How and when was the company founded?
The Gallo Company has a long tradition as it was founded in Venice in 1910.
Following centuries of Italian tradition associated with craftsmanship, the founder of the company, Luciano Gallo, started his own activity in the solitude of a small workshop located in the heart of Venice, precisely in Campo San Tomà, one of the hundreds of small squares that compose the uneven and jagged urban area of the city of Venice.
So we are talking of 105 years, but do not ask me if we celebrated the anniversary because we did not: as a rationalist, I suffer from a strange form of superstition!
So the origins are in Veneto?
Actually I prefer to say they are in Venice.
What exactly did your great-grandfather?
Although the most typical Venetian artisan tradition is linked to glass, Luciano Gallo was an expert in processing iron and more specifically in making lighting objects for outside use such as lanterns or oil lamps, as shown in the photo on the cover page of our catalogue, in which he can be seen amidst his creations.
How did he end up in Tuscany?
Because of the war – after WW1, in 1919, my great-grandfather moved to Tuscany, first to Florence then to Prato (8 km from Florence) with his large family (his wife and 9 children, i.e. 7 sons and 2 daughters) as was usual in those days.
The move was necessary because the region of “Tre Venetie” was the Italian front of the First World War, and was devastated in the aftermath. And then who knows: it might be destiny, I wonder? A Venetian artisan who does not work with glass but with bronze and wrought iron ends up in the right place after all, Florence, the Italian land of artistic wrought iron crafts, as is the whole Tuscany region.
It is this very activity, after the move to Prato, that lead him to become a famous “bronze” craftsman in the Florence area, a creator of artistic objects, including for the street furniture sector, such as park benches, street lamps and statues in brass and bronze.
Luciano Gallo passed away in 1933 (not a bad year to leave this world, I reckon!: Hitler’s rise to power in Germany and all the mess that he’ll make afterwards, but this is another story…)
Who continues the activity?
Being able to rely on 9 children, 7 of whom sons, the company did not end with Luciano. Two Gallo brothers, Libero and Dino (my grandfather) took over the business after a forced interruption during the most dramatic phase of WW2, due to the German occupation between 1943 and 1945.
1945 is also the year when Aldo Gallo was born, Dino’s son and my father.
We have lost count now – which generation is that?
Third – Aldo is the third generation – not bad I’d say: having lived through two wars, a dictatorship… so we are now in the 1950’s.
And what happened in the 1950’s?
The brothers Libero and Dino Gallo went their separate ways but continued to produce classic-decorative light fittings for internal use. Over those years, each one in his own way, they renewed and reinterpreted the so-called “Florentine style” (which in its most traditional form consists of either iron or wood) and brought some major stylistic innovation such as the use of Venetian and Murano crystal and glass (recalling their Venetian origins).
Both Gallo brothers (Dino and Libero) were really two master craftsmen and guides, in the Florence area, also for all subsequent generations of classic lighting producers over the course of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.
It was a good time – full economic boom – how did the company live through it?
Rather well: over the course of the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s, my father Aldo brought major innovative changed in style and production that lead him to introduce new work processes: not only the use of iron, but also products based on the use of wood, ceramics and china. This further lead him, in particular in the 1970’s, to invent a collection of table lamps that became a commercial and stylistic case in the recent story of the Italian decorative lighting design.
Over the 80’s and 90’s, my father Aldo found new energy and incentive also thanks to the constant and keen presence of his wife and business partner, Beatrice Pacini Gallo, my mother.
Thus the company was able to complete its final leap in terms of quality and recognition on foreign markets, including outside Europe (Asia, North America, the Arab Countries).
And you Jacopo, what are your achievements?
To begin with, I was born – in 1972 – and so I represent the fourth generation and I truly hope not to be the last.
You can well vouch for it after 105 years!
That’s right – we look pretty good for our age!
A century and more of experience is a treasure on which to draw – a cushion on which to sit: artisan background that happily combines iron, glass, wood, bronze and ceramics, as well as a cultural background since I grew up in close contact with a Venetian grandfather who would always crack jokes with me in Venetian dialect (a dialect which in some ways we have kept alive at home, joking with my father). I am also the bearer of a Venetian life style, food wise for instance, (we used to eat “poenta e osei” for Sunday lunch, and I’ m still fond of it, as well as liver with onions of course – what memories!).
This constructive contamination may well be what has allowed us to hand down these skills for more than 100 years; then an innate curiosity and the blending of 2 exceptional cultures and territories that belong to 2 dream cities, Florence and Venice.
What was your main objective when you joined the company?
To continue the internationalization process that was started in the 1980’s and 90’s and to expand it to what I like to call the emerging “New World”, namely BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China). This coincided with the time when I joined the company for good, in 2000 (while I was finishing my degree in Architecture in Florence). These emerging countries are very important as they have practically sustained world economy over the last 15 years, so we have invested accordingly there with substantial outcome.
What about the future?
The future of a company like ours will always go hand in hand with a review of the past. This is not a “nostalgic” idea, also because it would be impossible to remain attached to old models when the world order changes every 7-10 years; so we are forced to reinvent and question ourselves – here I am referring not so much to work processes but to the spirit behind them.
To this day we continue designing and producing our items in the name of the tradition that has guided our company through over 100 years and 4 generations. The rich cultural background that has been handed down to me helps me monitor, manage and blend different types of materials and shapes, as clearly shown in our production, which is both a review and an update of the already mentioned “Florentine style”.
105 years of existence are also a clear indication of reliability and professionalism that the various owners have always endeavoured to maintain and foster at large, but also toward their many employees, suppliers and customers over the course of 4 generations.
As a matter of fact our company collaborates with hundreds of architects and interior designers all over the world. They have total trust in our abilities and skills, so much so that they very often order made-to-measure or enlarged items, because they are confident that the final result and object that will be delivered will fully meet the expectations of their final customers.
Therefore the “tailor made” approach stands as the most significant step in connection with the review of the past I was mentioning above: i.e. putting our experience at the service of other people’s needs.
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