2020 was a big year for the small Italian terracotta tile maker Fornace Brioni. The company, located in the Lombardy region of Northern Italy, which is noted for its rich clay deposits, is celebrating its 100th anniversary. This is the remarkable story of the Brioni family, founded by Giacomo Brioni who took over an 18th century brick business in 1920 that is now being run by the third generation of brothers, Alberto and Alessio, and is at the forefront of terracotta tile design.
Giacomo Brioni built up the hand made brick business and handed it over to his son Fausto who, in the sixties, brought in machinery to produce industrial bricks, making Fornace Brioni the leading manufacturer in Italy. By the eighties, as competition increased and business declined, Fausto Brioni turned his back on the industrial world and decided to focus on making traditional handmade terracotta tiles with an emphasis on quality and smaller production. The company has since become the go-to resource for the restoration of historical buildings, including the Vatican.
With the third generation of Brionis, the business has grown to new heights, most recently with their collaboration with celebrated Milan-based designer Cristina Celestino. Together, they have created award-winning designs with a modern take on terracotta, putting Fornace Brioni firmly on the cutting edge of tile design. Explore the current collection here.
A once teeming industrial facility is now the workplace of a handful of craftsmen, turning out handmade tiles, one at a time. Fausto Brioni, now in his seventies, still comes to the factory every day on his bike and helps load the tiles for firing in the kiln.
Join Alberto on a Zoom tour of his studios and factory, as he shows us around and gives us a behind-the-scenes look at one of Italy’s most traditional and groundbreaking artistic tile makers.