Double Signature. A dialogue between design and artisanal excellence

Dimitri Bahler
Maurizio Tittarelli Rubboli

The walls in Maurizio Tittarelli Rubboli’s kiln room are velveted with black smoke, in contrast to the golden shimmer of his ceramics. The ancient firing technique he uses, called lustro, is apt: his pottery is lustrous and iridescent. Dimitri Bähler, a Swiss designer, has traveled to Gualdo Tadino, a small Umbrian town outside of Perugia to learn how Rubboli achieves this effect. Bähler has specified the size and dimensions of the pieces they are creating together, and Rubboli has explained how he makes the metallic glazes by hand. “All you have to do is decide which colours you want to use: blue, gold or ruby,” says Rubboli. Bähler smiles, not quite ready to choose.


He too is enamored with ceramics, and in fact pieces he made during a three-month residency in the Netherlands will soon be exhibited in New York. In front of them, three cone-shaped muffles sit atop the kilns. To their left is a heap of dried broom, which, like out of some fairy tale, is the key to lustro. When Rubboli feeds it to the flames in the third firing, its flare of heat causes a reduction in oxygen that activates the metal in the glaze. He monitors the process by drawing small glazed tabs out of the kiln through a very little hole. Rubboli now gathers a few of these brightly hued tabs and hands them to Bähler. “The colour is so lively you can’t see it in a photo,” says Bähler, lifting a gold and red-orange tab to the light. “Take these home to refer to as you decide which colours you want,” says Rubboli. “But in the end it’s always the kiln that decides.”

Dimitri Bähler
Dimitri Bähler opened his studio in Biel, Switzerland in 2014. He has presented his work at venues from Villa Noailles, France to Zurich and New York. His unique pieces include his Blausee bench, a stone piece which is almost like a ready made; IHP, a textured table hand carved from an aluminum block to express “industrial handmade patterns”, and a ceramics collection that won the Grand Prize for the Interieur Biennale in Courtrai in 2016. Bähler has done residencies at the European Ceramic Workcentre in the Netherlands, Hors Pistes in Burkina Faso, and Ishinomaki Laboratory in Japan. A graduate of the University of Arts and Design in Lausanne (ECAL), he was nominated for Swiss Design Awards in 2014 and 2015.
Maurizio Tittarelli Rubboli
Maurizio Tittarelli Rubboli descends from a line of ceramics artists known for their mastery of the ancient technique of lustro, which his great-grandfather revived in 1873 in the Umbrian town of Gualdo Tadino. The family factory is now a museum that displays fine examples of lustre majolica from the past 125 years. Rubboli maintains his studio there and fires his pottery in a rare 19th century muffle furnace built by his grandfather. Rubboli began crafting his own pottery in 1996, holding his first solo exhibition in 2001 in Perugia. Since then he has won many awards, and his work has been showcased in exhibitions, museums and galleries in Italy and around the world. He has been awarded a Master of Arts and Crafts (MAM).


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