Jan Plecháč and Henry Wielgus are spending the day at the Milan-based studio of Gianluca Pacchioni, the celebrated metal sculptor and master craftsman.
The Czech designers are instantly captivated as they tour the place, a former eye-drop factory from the 1930’s with soaring ceilings. It’s a metal forge, an artist’s atelier, a gallery and living quarters all opening onto a courtyard, and Plecháč admits to feeling a bit like Alice in Wonderland. In a short time, Pacchioni can see that Plecháč and Wielgus have deep respect for the materials he works with, and once they settle in to talk, they fairly quickly determine that they will do a project that shows metal patina to fine advantage. “Gianluca is not only a craftsman but also an outstanding artist,” says Plecháč. He and Wielgus are clear that this cannot be the kind of collaboration where the artisan simply carries someone else’s design.
It’s the first time they have worked with an artist, he says, and they are grateful for the chance. Pacchioni too is in a new role in this collaboration. It’s the first time he’s crafting someone else’s idea and he welcomes it as a pleasure and a challenge. Besides, he says: “There will be the opportunity and the freedom to impress my sign, my personality on the project.” That evening Pacchioni treats Plecháč and Wielgus to a Milanese risotto and they proclaim him a great cook. “It’s been sort of a blind date,” Pacchioni jokes. “But no one has been disappointed: we have all marveled at each other, and a precious friendship was born.”