There is a curious idea that tradition is immutable. However, all traditions are partly reinvented, revisited and therefore enhanced. Traditions are not just things that are there but also things that might be there, that are incorporated, virtual, as it were.
The quality of Italian manufacturing is multiplicity which does not mean uniform. It is a distinctive feature of our culture.
The issue therefore is plurality not of products but of a lifestyle, exported via items that add meaning to that lifestyle.
Therefore, to some extent, the objects we send around the world may be given new meaning.
Apprentice and maestro
As far as disseminating knowledge is concerned, differentiating between information and training is fundamental.
Pure information is the transmission of something that is already known, training requires another kind of skill. It is the amount of correctable errors that defines the relationship between apprentice and maestro.
"A classic" is an object, a concept, a perception, an effect that has never finished saying what it has to say”, as Italo Calvino said.
It is a metaphorical way of saying that a classic has a concept of virtuality that can always be developed, as it were.
This predisposition to create future memory is the main feature of a classic piece.
Nowadays there is a tendency to bring science into the kitchen, based on processing the world’s materials and compatibility of these materials with ourselves, which are part of the world, i.e. alchemy.
Cooking today requires extraordinary expertise, know-how, handling the world’s materials in an original, inventive manner, with tools that seem to be much more similar to those used in alchemy.
I think teaching about models and prototypes is very important. It enables us to differentiate between fixed teaching, between those who say: “This is the model you need to follow”, and those who say instead: “This is the model and, starting with this, can you see how it can be improved”. In teaching there are those who demand and sanction the exact model and those who, instead, offer models – think of improvised jazz – the opportunity to create different options.
An autograph is something done by someone, a painting for example. An allograph, instead, could be done by a machine.
However, there are parts that can be done by machine, namely making a model, and parts that are done by hand, starting from models.
Take music. Each score can be performed very differently.
In the same way, in craftsmanship there are some parts that are simple model making and parts that are customized to each model.
I would say, therefore, that the model is an autograph and is made in an autographic rather than allographic way.
Today, in English, something very important, salient, is said to be “iconic”. This enables us to distinguish between salience and significance. There are items which are salient and to which certain significance is given – meaning, affection, investment, such as the items in a personal collection, which remind us of certain things. They have salience, i.e. they are configured on our investment in affection, memories, which have meaning for us.
That same salience can be invested in different significance, new meanings, new feelings.
So it can be said that they are “iconic”, since they embody that value of significance.