D a n i e l   M a c c h i a r i n i   S p e a k s

Daniel Macchiarini as a young boy
in the studio

In Renaissance Florence... "men spent their time in the street and squares, and in the shops. A good Florentine would say of one of their moralists.... 'Sta Sempre a Bottega', "is always in the shop, "!

Kenneth Clark 'Civilization' Chapter 4 'Man the Measure of All Things'

My first memories of the shop, the studio, was that of a space where my father and mother created,and encouraged me in creating visual artwork. In the late 50's and early 60's, I would come to the shop every day during the summer, and every Saturday during the school year. I learned to both hard and soft solder when I was 7 years old, and gas weld iron by the time I was 9. My father would always have me focus on the projects I had designed and he insisted that I finish everything
I started. He took time to teach me basic metal working craft skills and art was always all around and integrated into my existence and consciousness. His opinions and direction was ever present but there were also many other influences.

s o m e   h i s t o r y--
t h e   s h o p   a n d   s t u d i o   c u l t u r e

The shop was a center for a wide community of artists and iconoclasts who, along with customers, constantly came in to discuss art, sometimes buying, but always intellectualizing about modernism and art in general. Among them were people like Bufano, a regular visitor who would always critique my work. I remember Margaret De Patta and the wonderful discussions she had with my father about the work they were creating and his great grief on hearing of her death in 1963. The African-American sculptor and muralist St. Johnson was also an ever present visitor to the shop as he lived on telegraph hill and frequented the New Tivoli Bar with my father along with a myriad of other artists for their nightly early evening rendezvous. St. Johnson told great stories of Mexico, the women he knew, his life and art. Joe Rosenthal, the photographer who took the shot of the Marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima, was also among the regulars. 

So many others I can't remember. I was raised in the studio and at that bar, hearing about their strife and struggles as well as the great triumphs and joys they felt from their work. This was the scene and I took it for granted. I was not legally supposed to be at the bar but it was never questioned that I was allowed there. I didn't drink, but I "drank" in all of the ambience of these characters of iconoclast intellect and I did it only semi-consciously of how special all of this was. As a young boy I was totally accepted in the presence of these artists and mentored by them. It was so natural and I thought nothing of it as a privilege even though now I consider my whole upbringing as an incredibly extraordinary education, unique, complete and positively exceptional.

Daniel Macchiarini
unicorn pin
(original design by
Peter Macchairini)

two rings

Daniel Macchiarini

This culture of the shop continues to this day with artists from 5 generations coming in to see us, to talk of their work and discourse about what they dream of doing or are doing. We still do too. The heart of all of this is about non-alienated work. The art is about a great feeling of creating and bringing into the world modernist designs that are vital, experimental and inspired. This was considered avant-garde in the 30's, 40's and 50's when my father, with a handful of others began this experimentation. It is extremely hard to do not only because it is metal work which is hand crafted but also because I never feel that I have explored a design in a complete way. My father taught me that this notion is good, that I should only ever have expectations of creating a really good piece, I should demand of myself good work. Design completion, on the other hand, is elusive, as we are involved in a great exploration of form. That is why each piece being created is an opportunity to take a new direction even within a given design concept. This education and exploration in design kept me coming to the shop all through the 60's when I was a teenager. There were days when I was so involved in a piece I was creating that I forgot to eat lunch. This intense involvement has also sustained me and kept me working with my father and coming back to the shop and studio over the decades.

 Everyday leads to something new and unique. This is also why my daughter now wants to be a visual artist, and is currently majoring in visual art at the University of California in Santa Barbara. She will be coming back to the shop this summer to work, again. This thing of art is in the blood and is generational.


This is also why we will never engage in any kind of mass production of any of our work or designs. I will carry on in creating pieces which are unique, speak to the world about sculptural modernism as well as generating a sense of personal uniqueness in those that buy the work I create. They wear it or put it up in their houses and project something positive to the world about themselves, how they view design and art. This would get lost if I went into mass production. The soul and chemistry between the artist and the consumer is destroyed when the machine makes the work. Good design is lost to the machine when an artist is forced to consider the machine in terms of the mass production of the design. The machine takes over. This is o.k. for cars, furniture, boats, beds and beer cans, it is not all right for visual art which must come from within the soul and out of the hands of the artists if it is to be true to the creative spirit which originates it.

Daniel Macchiarini
cubist guitar earrings

large cuff bracelet

silver pod bracelet

 Peter Macchiarini

So I will be in the shop, the studio, originating and elaborating daily with my father and daughter as and when she so chooses to be with us. We are on a great journey in terms of the work. The original bohemians were wanderers, like gypsies, never settling in anywhere but constantly on a journey everywhere. One of the great contributions my father made to metal art and modernist design concepts was that he created layers and depth within his work. He taught me to do the same.

Daniel Macchiarini

He had long discussions with Bufano about form and design. Bufano always thought the exterior form was the most important, in creating a beautiful piece of sculpture. He
described and compared this concept to what he considered was natures most
exquisite sculptural form, the egg. You see this in all of Bufanos work, these beautifully rounded lines, which always complete and return to themselves even if they orbited out of the sculpture into space. They always return within the piece. I remember visiting Bufanos studio and seeing him physically inside a huge plaster mold of one of his St. Francis'. He was fanatically obsessed about getting this form "right". He was working the form of the sculpture in the negative because he saw an "error" in the form in the mold that he didn't see in the positive. My father thought this idea of the egg was very important as well, and taught me that this was the basis of good design. He pointed it out to me in every artist's work we saw together starting from contemporary modernist to the renaissance medieval, from Egyptian and ancient Asian to Aztec and Incan monumental sculpture. The rightness and consistency of Bufanos' concept within the best of these works is profound. My father went further though, "You must start with the idea of the egg, yes, but the real journey of discovery is what is inside the egg". This is where he has spent a lot of time in his "pods", masks and pendants, finding out what is "inside the egg" over and over again. Using different layers of metal and different types of metal and patinas to effect depth within the form. I have too, and so much so that I have found that if I go far enough into these layers and visual depths, many times I actually return to the outside of the egg. I find another outside on the inside. I am still on this journey and it is hard work, many times I get tired, I struggle very hard to make all the layers and levels of design "right" and find how to make them all work together in a complete form in any given piece. I've never suffered from a single moment of boredom, and that is what keeps me on the journey. I will continue - 'sempre a bottega'!

Daniel Macchiarini

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