Skilled carpenters in Italy are known as falegnami, expert woodworkers whose handcraft has been finely honed over generations. Many of them live and work in Brianza, a furniture-making region 45 minutes outside Milan. And many of them are octogenarians, or quickly approaching their golden years.
Milan-based woodworker Giacomo Moor is an exception to this rule. At 34, he is the oldest in his nine-person workshop, where hip young carpenters wearing baggy jeans, fashionable beards and big yellow earphones cut, trim, join and build sleekly designed furniture. Moor runs not only the youngest woodworking shop in town but also the only one that designs and installs furniture in addition to building it.
‘In Italy there are a lot of furniture designers and there are a lot of carpenters,’ he says. ‘But there aren’t people who do both. The secret is to be able to work with your hands, but also to be competent with design.’
He adopted this unique approach when he launched his business in a basement in 2011. His early customers were private clients who wanted to cut out the pesky architect middleman. He now does full-scale interiors, producing not just elegant walnut desks and oak tables made from reclaimed beams, but also custom kitchens with oak tops and cabinets made from rare blackened ash wood. Many of his pieces now combine his finely researched and treated woods with glass, iron or brass.
Moor graduated from the Politecnico di Milano’s School of Design eight years ago. While studying, he also worked with a local carpenter, learning the trade.
His first piece was a set of bowls carved from the trunk of an olive tree and was recently shown at Milan’s Triennale museum. ‘It took me four days to excavate it,’ he says. ‘That was back when I had time.’
Moor now oversees 100 projects a year from his new atelier, a former auto body shop. In addition to private clients, he works with companies and galleries, such as Post Design, Memphis’ contemporary design brand, for which he produced furniture in 2013 and 2014.
At Salone del Mobile, he debuts metal and stone oak shelving for Acerbis (the wood is buried underground to give it a grey tone). Two other new works – a tool kit for a craft and design project presented by Fondazione Cologni, Living and Yoox, and a paduka-wood toucan sculpture for Woodyzoody, a new company co-founded by Moor’s wife Aurelie Callegari and based on an idea by designer Giulio Iacchetti – are as impeccably made and easy to slot into a home as his furniture.
As originally featured in the May 2016 issue of Wallpaper* (W*206)