From dominoes to handmade bags inspired by fighter pilots, Ghisò is in the business of slow luxury. The Italian manufacturer makes a sumptuous line of products tailored to the finer things using raw materials inspired by the designer who founded the company in the 1920s. Here, we speak with Gianluca Maina, the CEO who purchased the company four years ago and kept its legacy intact.
Life + Times: Your product range includes luggage, poker and dominoes sets, humidors, and writing boxes. How do you go about developing new products that fit within your design aesthetic?
Gianluca Maina: We have a wide range of products that all fit a very specific lifestyle. Our major source of inspiration relies on the beauty of materials we use, and on a very contemporary idea of design. Purity and essentiality of lines have to enhance the beauty of our materials, and our designers have well integrated this. Last but not least, we need to love the products we do.
L+T: When was your company formed? How has it changed and grown over the years?
GM: Ghisò has several decades of history. In the 1920’s Ghisò was a very active designer and we are still inspired by his work. I purchased the brand over four years ago and since then, our brand has gained maturity. Our structure as well as our product offering has been consolidated. Recent additions, such as leather accessories, have rapidly become solid elements of our collections. The experience our brand offers has gained in taste and consistency.
L+T: Wood is a big part of your products. Where do you source your wood?
GM: Sourcing is a very important part of our business. We source most of our materials from Italy —95% of our raw materials. When this is not possible, we make sure to buy certified products, from certified suppliers.
Concerning leather, we have an agreement with a consortium of tanneries in Tuscany that produce vegetable tanned leather according to the most sustainable and traditional techniques. This is very important as it allows us to produce a genuine 100% made-in Italy product, of the highest possible quality.
L+T: How do you execute “Slow Luxury?”
GM: “Slow Luxury” is our mantra. [It]expresses itself in all the aspects of our work. Sourcing has to be local and from small artisanal partners. We produce small quantities that are certified and individually controlled. Our production techniques have to integrate traditional artisanal techniques and modern knowledge. Hence we preserve a methodology of work and knowledge of product that is very strong in Italy. We create distinctive collections, often in limited quantities. We believe that our company has to grow organically, in partnership with our suppliers. Our products need to last a long life, and accompany its owner, evolving with him. To this extent, vegetable tanned leather is a great material to work with as it matures perfectly, ageing with character. Our products are thought for urban and sophisticated consumer, aware of fashion but not victim of it.
L+T: How does your bespoke process work?
GM: Since the beginning of our project we have created a team of craftsman that can work on bespoke products. The idea is to offer our customers a very personalized product, and whenever possible to create it with them. Currently, we offer this service from our showroom in Geneva, but we hope to be able to extend this to other partners worldwide.
L+T: Your products tell stories, what are your best stories?
GM: Our best stories have yet to be told. Personally I love our shoehorn, born from the hands of a master craftsman who has been with us since the beginning. The shoehorn has taken shape organically, carving the wood manually and the more we carved the more the object started to look perfect. Another story is the one of our Helmet Bag, a product that is inspired by fighter pilots’ nylon helmet bags, and that has been modified to suit every days needs for working men and women. Since our first test products, it has evolved and has gotten really great. The leather we have chosen for it is the best calf leather, hand brushed and tanned, to achieve a very sophisticated look.
L+T: What are new products for this season? What will see in the future?
GM: Our collection will grow to integrate a new range of briefcases and bags that add a small formality to the products. In addition, we have signed a great partnership with one of the most magical and prestigious luxury car manufacturers that will be unveiled in March. The future products will integrate more and more our customers’ requests, in order to become a stronger part of their life.
L+T: Your collection is not currently sold in stores in the U.S. Can customers order directly from you?
GM: It is currently possible, but our proper online store will be available only in February.
L+T: What’s your most popular game?
GM: Backgammon is definitely one of our best selling games, and since a couple of months Mahjong, which has become a fantastic seller. Finally, our domino games are very popular as well.