Russell Brooks from Circa Collectables shares his knowledge and passion for the famous Bitossi Ceramiche pieces which have been in production in Italy since the early 1920s.A Bitossi item is a popular collectable that adds charm and style to any room. Sometimes you’ll only need that one special piece and other times, a grouping of animals or small vases adds an inviting and intriguing element to a room.
Bitossi Ceramiche is famous for designing classic Italian hand-made ceramics, combining great artistic tradition with contemporary design and using local craft works. The Bitossi family founded this business in 1921 in Montelupo near Florence, Italy – an area with a long tradition of ceramic production dating back to the 15th century.
Art Director, Aldo Londi designed thousands of pieces, patterns and techniques during his 30 years with Bitossi. As an 11 year old he showed an affinity with clay and became an apprentice at the town’s largest factory. When he returned from war in 1946 he joined Bitossi Ceramiche. His talent was immediately obvious and he was appointed artistic director, a position he held for 30 years until his retirement in 1976.
Londi was very aware of the marketplace and what buyers wanted, and he pushed forward with designs for the home that would surprise and delight. He wanted to stir people’s emotions with them.
Bitossi products retain a certain handmade look despite the fact they are now mass produced. This was necessary because the post-war workforce there was largely unskilled and inexperienced.
Forms centred on the cylinder, cone and sphere – modern in taste yet relatively easily made by these workers. Simple motifs were impressed into bodies, allowing consistency and ease of manufacture while still retaining a hand-crafted look. Londi’s ‘Rimini Blu’ is the most successful example of this and by far the most popular. ‘Scraffito’ is another main design element where lines or patterns were scratched into the surface. These two basic production elements followed ancient techniques combined with his modern, forward thinking designs.
‘Rimini Blu’, designed in 1959, quickly became the company’s signature range. It is still in production today. Other glazes were used with this pattern and included bright orange, green and mottled colours.
Lamp bases are a particular favourite of mine. Originally these bases would have been sold without a shade and it was up to the new owner to purchase one to match their décor.
I also love the ‘animals’ range which comes in various colours and patterns.
Bitossi is a desirable collectable, becoming more expensive all the time. But when you consider that most of these stylish items are 40 to 60 years old and undamaged, they are most affordable compared to mass-produced, modern day alternatives.
Thanks to Russell Brooks of Circa Collectables for this article and pictures. Find all their treasures at the Love Vintage Show, Melbourne 17-19, and the Sydney Fair, June 13-16. Check out their facebook page for details or contact Russell on 0414 489 784, or email firstname.lastname@example.org