Giuliano Mazzuoli is an Italian product designer, who first made a name for himself as a typographer and later as designer of pens. Since 2005, he has been focusing increasingly on watches.
His works are familiar yet original. A coffee pot, a pressure gauge, a gear. Domestic objects, tools and parts, one would typically find in a garage. The genius lays in elevating the object above the utilitarian and reinterpreting it in surprising way. At a certain level simplicity meets class and morphs from mundane into virtue. There is no place to hide. The simplicity forces the viewer to evaluate the design at an intrinsic level.
To understand better the creator and his work we spoke to the maestro himself.
Who is Giuliano Mazzuoli?
I enjoy passing my time making things and when what I am making comes out to be something I am proud of, then I have a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction. I work with a passion that I would like to see reflected in the object that come out of my efforts, and if that object stirs up emotions or makes someone smile, then I know I have been successful.
You have been described as a creative artist and inventor. Why inventor?
I do not describe myself in any one way. I make what I like after getting an inspiration for something. I am mostly doing it for myself, and if that object has an appeal to others all the better. I do not invent anything, but I encounter the objects I am creating in my everyday life. I take the aesthetics of an object designed for a function, and transform it into an object with a different function.
How did you get to design writing instruments? Where do you get your inspiration from?
I was making paper products like agenda books and notebooks under my own brand that were different than what was already on the market, and in showing people what I had done they would constantly ask me to design a pen to go along with those paper products. I suppose it’s a natural progression from making paper products to pens, but I am never one to do anything just for the sake of doing it.
One day I was in a mechanical workshop and saw some tools that reminded me of the tools I played with as a child in my grandfather’s bicycle workshop. Memories of those days came flooding back, and from those memories I developed my first line of writing instruments based on mechanical tools which I called Officina (Officina in Italian means workshop).
Moka, a pen inspired by Alfonso Bialetti’s famous coffee-maker, a symbol of Italian design to this day, was my next pen. The Writing Tools collection has grown from there to include original objects that have captured the imagination of the world.
How are your pens different from the other pens on the market?
I try to make pens that have an original design, that are made with the standards of high-quality that we are famous for in Italy, and that inspire an emotion. I love getting letters complimenting me on the quality of the products we are making, and hearing how important the pen has become to them. People grow attached to them. They put them on their desks or keep them around their house and they are sort of design objects that write. When people take the time to contact you and tell you what an object you created means to them it means that we are doing something right.
You are Italian and Florentine. What does that mean for your pens?
Italian products usually are associated with originality, innovation, high-quality, and a sought-after design. Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance, provides an undiminished creative inspiration from what the great masters left behind. Art, and the tradition of artisanal craftsmanship are alive even today. The writing instruments I design combine all the elements and traditions I have around me.
Now it seems like your focus lays more with watches. Do pens still have a place in your portfolio?
Watches in the last few years have taken up a lot of my attention and time, and it’s the product category where inspiration most strikes me and from which I received a lot of personal and professional satisfaction. Pens continue to be something that I am involved in, but a lot of the creativity and involvement in this part of the business has been passed on to my sons Emiliano and Tommaso who are doing some fantastic work under my continued guidance. They are taking creative initiatives that follow in the tradition I have set into motion, and it’s wonderful to see that tradition continue into the next generation.
How big is your pen production?
Our pens are handcrafted and made in an artisanal way and so there is no set production target for the year based on any unit number. We are keeping up with the growing demand, but based on the manual nature of our product our production is not on any industrial scale. The handcrafted and manual nature of our products is part of what makes a Mazzuoli pen special. It’s not something you see everywhere and not everyone has one.
What is your main market?
Our main markets are our home market of Italy as well as the USA where there is a strong appreciation for high-quality product made with the skills and craftsmanship that products made in Italy are usually associated with. We are also seeing an interest in markets where people are not just looking for a brand name or something everyone around them has, but products that are timeless and made with an old-world craftsmanship.
What new challenges lay ahead for the Giuliano Mazzuoli brand and Giuliano Mazzuoli pens?
We compete against the growing influence and pressure of the big, commercial groups and we manage to resist because we continue to be a small company creating products that are original and innovative in a way that is not industrial. I hope that this type of product will never lose its appeal and people continue to appreciate the effort and work that goes into every aspect of products done the way we do them. We never compromise on making an original product paying close attention to its detail and its quality.
Outside the pen world, what brands do you admire and you have liked to have created yourself?
Although I do not really pay attention to a lot of what is out there today, there are objects developed by designers who I admire and once in a while I do find something that I wish I had done myself. I am a fan of the work of Jonathan Ive, Philippe Starck and Marc Newson.
Iunal Giumali is the founder and editor of the very successful pen blog Penficionado.com and owner of The Pen Gallery. His blog is considered one of the top resources for writing instruments news and reviews on the net. With a writing style that is original and engaging his main goal is to share his passion and unfold the mysteries of mechanical luxuries.