Gianfranco Chicco

Gianfranco Chicco

Conference director, marketing strategist, and writer, acting as a cultural translator between different worlds. I create experiences that bring people together and curate The Craftsman Newsletter.

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Talking by making: pottery in the heart of Uji

Ceramics and tea culture are both close to my heart so when Hosai Matsubayashi XVI invited me to practise pottery at Asahiyaki it felt like a dream come true.

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Talking by making: soba noodles in Tokyo

Akila Inouye runs the Tsukiji Soba Academy in Tokyo. A fan of molecular cuisine, his teaching method relies on getting to know the history of soba, grasping the underlying chemistry of its preparation and of course cooking and eating them in different ways.

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Moving at human speed

You can tell that September was the busiest time at work when all I could manage to write about was putting tomatoes on handmade ceramic plates and sharing daily Instagram Stories about preparing matcha (抹茶, Japanese powdered green tea) in a proper teabowl using a bamboo whisk. Truth is, these

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Tomatoes on Japanese ceramic plates taste better

Do tomatoes taste better when eaten from a nice Japanese ceramic plate? Objectively, no. But the experience of serving and eating the tomatoes does improve. That is because human experience is not limited just to the physical characteristics of the food but how we interact with it, from the sensorial

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From artificial to artisanal intelligence

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, anything Artificial Intelligence (AI) related is top of the newscycle. Even my local florist will go to great lengths to share his thoughts on how AI is going to either make us miserable or be the end of the human race. However,

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From banal conference badge to collectible item

Throwback to 2010 when I was leading marketing and communications at the PICNIC Festival in Amsterdam during the day, and the Conference Director of Frontiers of Interaction in Rome at night. The first decade of the 2000s had been a fervent period for innovative media-tech-creativity conferences to rise and refresh

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Slow prosperity: empathy and (small) business

On April 14th 2023 I hosted an online session called “Slow prosperity: Empathy and Business” with 6th generation Japanese master craftsman Takahiro Yagi of Kaikado. Kaikado has been making tea caddies - 茶筒, chazutsu - since 1875. The wide-ranging conversation followed some of the topics covered in Taka’s book,

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The connection between maker and owner

"So somewhere along the line, I’ve switched from being a consumer to an owner. Or maybe even a custodian, if I look after them well enough to pass them on to my children: not inconceivable the way they’re going."

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The humble yunomi

The yunomi is the workhorse of Japanese teaware. It’s the cup where you’ll be offered tea at a shop, a restaurant, an office or when visiting someone’s home. You’ll find it in daily use by people of all classes and backgrounds.

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The Ukrainian Tryzub

Ivan Hryhorchuk of Viter Ceramics is a young Ukrainian potter whose work is inspired by Japanese ceramics and tea culture. As a fellow Japanophile, I found his teaware very relatable and bought some of it in 2019. When Russia invaded Ukraine in February of 2022, Ivan’s life and that

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Tea Ensō

This morning I did a sloppy job at transferring new matcha tea from its original container onto a tea caddy using a sift that was wider than the opening of the caddy.

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Traditions: from copying to rebellion to transcendence

When we think about traditional craft objects, the first image that comes to mind is that of old things, vintage looks, nostalgia and remote origin stories. However, traditions are living entities. They have to be born before they get a chance to establish themselves, they grow and evolve, and sometimes