At Salone del Mobile Milano 2023, also known as the hotly-anticipated Milan Design Week and the biggest artisanal display on Italy’s calendar (save for Milan Fashion Week), the compulsory motif is clear: Made in Italy.
Case in point: luxury label Tod’s, who today unveil their latest design project titled The Art Of Craftsmanship.
In a boundary-less world where generative AI is becoming involved in almost every facet of design, and the practice of honing your skill is expedited through a series of YouTube tutorials, Tod’s are reflecting on the phygital nature of now through a photography series showcasing the innate skill of craftsmanship.
Lensed by globally-renowned British fashion photographer Tim Walker, Tod’s is exalting the deft, human touch that comes from handcrafting—the pinnacle of luxury. Because you didn’t think your favourite Tod’s Gommino or Di Bag would be made without the firm handle of a pair of Italian hands, did you?
In these photographs, Tod’s and Walker exploring the importance of attention to detail and meticulous quality. Their dream-like approach to capturing the steps of design (see: crafting, moulding, cutting) amplifies the tools required to craft art through playfully distorted proportions.
“In this increasingly digital world, where so much is being created on an industrial scale by machines, the value of craftsmanship is increasingly precious,” explains Walker.
Ahead of the unveiling of the photography project at this year’s Salone del Mobile, Walker sat down with Tod’s for an in-depth dialogue about the significance of the artwork.
Below, ICON brings you their conversation.
ICON: What is in your opinion the value of craftsmanship and safeguarding its know-how and manual skills today?
TIM WALKER: In this increasingly digital world, where so much is being created on an industrial scale by machines and robots, the value of craftsmanship is increasingly precious. Detecting the hand of a skilled craftsperson in a product gives it a unique quality and very particular beauty.
ICON: This project wants to celebrate craftsmanship and its values. How did you translate this concept into images?
TW: I spent a fascinating day at the Tod’s factory where I was able to witness the craftsmanship and skills that go into the products for myself, along with my set designer, Gary Card, and we both drew inspiration from this. We wanted to let the specialist tools and methods play a starring role in the photographs – the artisan tools are so specific to the creation of Tod’s iconic products – we wanted to find a way to celebrate them in a slightly surreal way in the photographs, playing with perspective, and hopefully some with some with.
ICON: In your career you have been working with the most iconic models in the world, while this project presents a cast of different people, from all ages and backgrounds, what did you want to express?
TW: Whilst I have had the privilege of photographing some truly iconic models in the course of my career, I greatly enjoy the freshness and unpredictability of working with very diverse talent of all ages and backgrounds – you get a particular thrill as a photographer establishing a connection with and coaxing a performance out of a subject who may not be very experienced in front of the camera, but they nonetheless bring a vitality and immediacy to the pictures.
Salone del Mobile runs from April 18 – 23 at Rho Fiera Milano. To learn more about the participating artisans and activations, click here.