Authenticity according to Vittorio Serio, the Master Cabinetmaker, awarded Chevalier de l’Ordre du Mérite

Vittorio Serio

“Authenticity is acquired by becoming aware of the greatness of his profession. I am lucky to have in my hands a knowledge that is mine. And it is unique, a living heritage that is transmitted mainly through gesture and experience. And I want to uphold this and make it known and recognized. Our way of working is ancestral. As a carpenter, the wood is put in rebates, in grooves, except that the wood will be prevented from working, putting a veneer on each side to stabilize it. Then we come back to the notion of marquetry. To prevent the plates from moving, one will curl the veneer, that is to say to cut it in a certain sense, and as a result, one creates motifs and the artist in each cabinetmaker is revealed. There are also techniques and tools with a handmade craftsmanship in the purest tradition. A cabinetmaker is also a craftsman who has the science of wood because he knows the associations of colors and materials. Ebony is preferred: black when it comes from Gabon or Congo, striated when it comes from the island of Macassar in Indonesia or white from Laos, but also all kind of woods and there are collectors of cedar for example.

I am a fervent defender of this heritage which is emblematic of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine district. Forty years ago, at my beginnings, there were cabinet makers on every street: rue Saint Sabin, rue de la Roquette or rue de Charonne. It was a classic production with a unique know-how that I still pass on today in my creative pieces. Moreover, thanks to my father, I learned the cabinetmaking of excellence, and that is what also makes the quality of my work. We really learn this craft by repetition, making initially series of 12 or 24 pieces of furniture at a time. Then, on the day when the hand manages to forget the tool, there is the movement of creation. Having reached this level, we dominate the hand and it is the spirit that takes over. So I can say my pieces are a part of the past with today’s mind. And this is fundamental because there is no creation without history and authenticity without relying on the memory of the past.

With this knowledge and this spirit, we found the craft where we can do everything we love. Then working becomes fun and a creative tool. I am full of gratitude by realizing that everything that comes out from me (from my mind), takes an existence. It’s huge to say that I do something with nothing. The object does not exist at the beginning because it has no referent and it is invented. It is born more exactly, and that is really amazing. We are at the heart of authenticity, for there can be nothing false in this creation. To know that what is there has come from a person with whom we met, with a soul, is so pure. Besides, it is the soul that gives envy and strength to the hand to realize the object. Thus, each creation is a part of me. It is the reading of my life and I would like to do this forever in my workshop.

To be true, one must also be at the service of his creations, and I let myself be guided each time. I have the idea, then the drawing comes and quickly the model. But I always change during manufacturing, depending on the eye. I call it a fresh eye. I let the furniture rest; I cover it up to see it no more. And I see it again with a fresh eye to continue the act of creation. The most complicated, then, is to stop, to tell oneself that the work is finished because one always wants to put more. But when the balance is there and when the eye is satisfied, at that moment, the piece is finished. And already, from that moment, the work no longer belongs to me. It is autonomous and it exists. And I’m ready to rebuild something else.

My first desire was to leave my imprint with the vision I had of my trade. From the start, I saw it as an instrument of creation and not only a tool of work. Since then, I have made a whole clientele at the level of creation, but this network is very tinny and private. The clients who come here in confidence, ask me for something different and it is a way for them to keep a part of the heritage, to be amazed and to have unique objects. Each piece is created in a total revival and that is what has made my whole career. This, because I like to be in perpetual creation. I love challenges and discoveries, and always to learn and continue to achieve.

Finally, my pieces are authentic as well. I do not have a special style like some, because I make each time different objects. But we recognize today because of the richness of materials and forms and this unbridled side. I can hear: “When it is a remarkable piece of furniture, it is Serio!” or “There is only one fool to do that, and that’s him!” What is certain is that I swim against the tide and the trend of today. I mean the design that is very clean and very light, worked by digital machines where we have small assemblies. This gives minimalist furniture that is clean and quite cubic. I am in the roundness, the exuberance and with my Italian side, I will always add something else to make the pieces more baroque and more daring. That’s why I’m hardly copyable in the making, but very often in the spirit. For example, I was the first to make furniture with printed circuit boards. Then Prehistoric furniture with drawings of Lascaux and reproductions of Neolithic thrusters or flint… or the raw materials leaving the ranges aspects bare. Now a lot of people are doing this!

Of course, I would like to see my furniture end up in museums one day. It would be a recognition, not for me, but for what I did. And I also have this desire to see our workshops where we transmit a unique knowledge, become workshops schools. For my first pleasure is to create furniture, but the second is to create souls who continue this work of creation. And I am so proud of the 17 professionals who are self-employed today and have been able to train here. They in turn pass on what I have taught them, and that is how we can preserve Living Heritage and reinvent human relationships. Our world needs it !”

Interview held by Carine Mouradian on May 22, 2017, in Paris

Link to Vittorio Serio’s website

Read also the Portrait of Vittorio Serio

About Carine Mouradian

My core goal is to reveal the authentic luxury through the portraits of passionnate people that I meet during my travels. With their unlimited creativiy, their deep convictions and their know-how between tradition and innovation, they work daily to build the ultimate customer experience that gives meaning and emotions.

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