Interview with Alessandro Alberighi, co-owner of the Aton Luce artisan glass factory in Empoli
Alessandro, can you please tell us about the history of the company?
Aton Luce was started as an artisan company in May, 1967 in Empoli. It was formed by eight ex-workers of another known glass factory. Today the company consists of the second generation of the founders with over 40 employees.
When did you arrive at the company?
I arrived in 1973 and I am one of the representatives of the second generation.
Why was Empoli chosen?
Empoli was a centre of excellence for glass works. In 1970, the area had between 35 and 40 companies specialised in traditional glassmaking.
Today however, Aton Luce is the last traditional glass company to remain active in the area. What happened?
Two factors have contributed to the recession of the companies in this area. The first is linked to the change in lifestyle of Italian families. The second, to competition from other countries which do not have the same level of quality in their products but are competitive on price.
What did your company produce and what does it produce today?
To begin with, we were specialised in chandeliers and lighting, but the arrival of the crisis in the sector led us to expand production. Today we are like a compendium of what was the best glassworks in the area. We produce lighting, vases, tableware (glasses and table mats), candle holders, perfume bottles, gold and colored mosaics for pools and mosques, and glass bricks.
What kind of glass?
White glass but also coloured glass (non varnished). But we also have a decoration department.
Can you tell us what is meant by traditional glassmaking?
It is when glass is produced in an artisanal way, mouth blown with a blowpipe. Basically without the aid of machinery. There have been evolutions in the techniques, but the process remains largely entrusted to the skill of the workers.
When did the collaboration with Dr. Vranjes Firenze begin?
In 2012. And in the se 7 years, a level of stability and security has been reached but it has also brought a continuous challenge for improvement and the development of production techniques due to the quality standards required by Dr. Vranjes Firenze. The relationship has also given us the ability to specialise in a high-end niche.
What kind of collaboration is it?
Dr. Vranjes Firenze is one of our partners, not just a client-customer. It has supported us with expensive investments for molds and in the development of the previously mentioned technique, where investments in machinery were necessary.
This form of collaboration and support has given stability to both parties. Dr. Vranjes Firenze can count on the highest quality and value in our artistic glass products; Aton Luce can count on a long-standing order, as well as on Dr. Vranjes Firenze support in the initial investment. This collaboration also encourages us to grow and constantly improve the quality of our products.
So what do you produce for Dr. Vranjes Firenze?
Bottles blown with a particular system that guarantees the optimal control of weight and the volume necessary to contain the liquid. These bottles require a high level of specialisation and have a sparkle that resembles crystal. We also produce candle vases in a reworked production method used many years ago.
Can you tell us what this technique consists of?
It is a traditional and artisanal system, suitable for the production of very particular shapes, such as the octagonal vase for Dr. Vranjes Firenze candles. It is a technique that requires a lot of expertise and many hours of labour, which is why it is very expensive.
These unique objects yield an incredible result and a very high quality that only a precise and refined consumer like the clients of Dr. Vranjes Firenze know how to appreciate. We are very pleased to have been able to dust off this very special production technique and adapt it to the large volumes requested by Dr. Vranjes. Each object is produced in decorated glass and heated in a furnace in order to make it more sparkling and stable.