Stufe Collizzolli: A symbol of Made in Italy quality

Autor: Alberta Voltolini

Collizzoli stove: a product of excellence, an example of Italian craftsmanship popular around the world, a timeless elegance 

a new stove is created each week100% handmade in Italy, in the tiny village of Bolbeno in the municipality of Borgo Lares. A product of excellence, an example of Italian craftsmanship popular around the world, the timeless elegance of a Collizzolli stove enhances any space, warming not just the home, but also the hearts of those who live there. Just a few kilometres from Madonna di Campiglio, a new stove is created each week, unique and personalised, in the studio that is at once a workshop of ingenuity and designer store. Each piece comes to life, cultivated by the loving hands of skilful craftsmen and women, nurtured by experience, attention to both detail and to the customer, in terms of their personality and needs. It is for this reason that no two stoves are the same. To speak about Stufe Collizzolli is to tell a story of an entrepreneurial adventure that is also the story of a family. Gemma, the artist mother, who discovers the gift of creativity and nourishes it constantly and with dedication, even when life leads her down other roads. Dario, the brilliant father, his far-sighted vision, a follower of dreams. Eros and Gabriele, their passionate and enthusiastic sons who chose to follow in their father’s footsteps and see the business into the new millennium, meeting its many challenges and unexpected tests. Together with Paolo Rivani, who has been overseeing the various stages of production for fourteen years.

Visiting their Bolbeno workshop arouses the same amazement a child feels in the face of something new. This is a world made of the wise gestures of an expert craftsman and the kind words of those who know how to seize the value of life and daily commitment. Spaces are filled with objects and tools arranged in a seemingly haphazard manner. Yet everything has its place and together, they make up a harmonious picture. Walking through the entrance, on the right, some completed stoves are on display, while on the left, the eye is drawn to a sequence of colourful majolica. Colours and brushes, waiting to be used, are placed in a display cabinet, while the designs for decorations are kept in large drawers. Gemma is at work in the middle of this. She is mixing earth and powder to achieve the desired shade. Then, she delicately glides the brush over the majolica, which, in just a few minutes is decorated with a simple, yet effective, design. There are numerous designs to personalise stoves. Depending on the customer’s taste, majolica can feature a modern or an old motif, an engraved decoration or a bas-relief, it can be simple or have a complex design like the stoves once found in the homes of peasants and the noble dwellings of Trentino and South Tyrol. Each project has a personalised designIn another area, Eros Collizzolli lets us see his hands at work as he shapes and smooths the clay within the moulds. He does this on a large Val Genova tonalite workbench. One of Dario’s creations was placed within the workshop before it was completed. Smoothed and levelled to perfection on the surfaces, the various elements that make up a stove are created and tested. Pieces that pass the ‘bench test’ are guaranteed to be correct and can be installed anywhere.
A hopper that deprives the clay of air and an oven that can reach 1000 degrees for baking the majolica are the only machinery permitted in Stufe Collizzolli’s workshop.

The rest is ingenuity, know-how, the pursuit of perfection, tenacity, and love for a work that goes beyond the difficulties of the times and market rules.

Handmade ceramic stoves, wood burning stoves, ‘olle’ stoves and majolica stoves are all built in the Stufe Collizzolli workshop. Generally wood burning, stoves can also be electric. Each project comes from direct collaboration with the customer and has a personalised design. Shapes, decorations and colours may be inspired by the heavily detailed traditional Alpine stoves (those with a green background and white reliefs produced between the end of the 18th and the mid-19th centuries are familiar to many), or by a more contemporary minimalist style. All, however, share Collizzolli’s ingenuity and a widespread warmth that bears the scent of wood and harmony.

Let’s start at the beginning. When did the story of Stufe Collizzolli begin?

We are a small business in a small place Dario: “We go back many years, to when I was a boy. The first job I had was as a handyman. I used to carry bricks and mortar for a craftsman who made stoves. Then I was a builder, but the passion for stoves never left me and I began making them to order. At the start, between the ups and downs of the market, I bought ceramics from businesses in the industry while Gemma handled the designs. Then, in the late 1980s, I decided to design and create my own stoves, still with the help of Gemma and my brother, Simone, until I had created the stove that I wanted. My children gradually came into the business and the company you see today was born. My children were great because they followed without me asking them for anything and without me having to observe their work. I left them to develop in their own way, watching, observing and learning. It was a huge task. I don’t do anything anymore. I’m no longer a part of it, really.”

Traditional elements as well as innovation and ingenuity can be seen in your products...

Dario: “I always say that I worked really hard and that I saw a little further than I thought I could see. I have done some things and introduced some small innovations that surprised me. I considered them temporary, but most did not need any adjustments or changes and it’s a wonder that they are still working today.”

How do you promote your business? What markets do you focus on?

Dario: We are a small business in a small place. Also, a Collizzolli stove will last for generations and, as a result, the market is saturated. Visibility via the new methods of communications and the Internet, as my children tell me, helps to get your name out there even a long way from Bolbeno. Today, our stoves are all over Italy and even across the ocean, as far away as Boston.”

 

What are the main stages of production required to create one of your stoves?

Gabriele: We manufacture handmade stoves together with the customer. The buyer contacts us, we talk about their house, thermal factors and, together, we create the perfect stove for its intended environment. After inspection, the research phase and the actual design, the ceramics are made without the use of any machinery. Created from clay, one by one they are first manually hammered in plaster moulds, then the next day, they are spatulated, smoothed and turned. Once this is completed, everything must dry for about 8 weeks before moving on to the next stage. Creating a stove is a long process that takes 3 to 4 months and requires between 300 and 350 hours. Finally, when the individual pieces come out of the oven, the stove is ready to be assembled within 1 or 2 days. We will return to the house where it is installed for testing at a later date.”

 

Decoration is perhaps the stage that most expresses the stove’s personality. Can you tell us about your role?

Gemma: My role is more than a job, it is a gift, something creative that makes me happy.

It's more than a job, it's a giftThe most important thing is to understand what the customer wants, to try to find a chemistry with the customer so that we can make them happy, in line with their taste as well as with the environment in which the stove is to be installed. There will never be anyone who says, ‘Oh, look how lovely your stove is’. Everyone will say, ‘Mine is more beautiful’, but only because it has been made how they wanted.” 

 

When did you discover your talent?

Gemma: “I’ve always drawn and painted, ever since I was a little girl, and over the years I have developed this talent which is, at the same time, a need. Even when I was doing other things, I never stopped drawing or painting. For me, it’s an expression of a part of myself, it’s important.”

 

The products that you make are something more than stunning ‘Made in Italy’ pieces, they tell your story...

Gemma: “Yes, that’s true. Creating something in the workshop takes a long time and requires a lot of commitment."

"We put a lot of ourselves into our stoves and sometimes it is hard to let them go.”

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