We are thrilled to share with you a special article that introduces us to a one-of-a-kind initiative: the Accademia della Pipa. This extraordinary place represents the beating heart of the art of the pipe, where expert pipemakers share their precious knowledge with other craftsmen to perfect their skill and passion. Al Pascià will select and present the best creations that will take shape from the various artisans who participate in the initiative. Enjoy the reading.
The name is high-sounding, Accademia della Pipa, and the roles within it pretentious, Masters and pupils.
However, it is not a question of haughtiness, but rather of the desire to communicate, starting from the name, seriousness and rigor. The roles, on the other hand, are borrowed from the organizational model of the ancient artisan workshops, where masters and students identified themselves because of the skills and knowledge accumulated over the years of work.
The Accademia della Pipa was born in 2020, the year of the great Pandemic. Between the blocking of non-essential activities and the confinement at home, four long-time pipemakers, with different experiences in the international field ("Mimmo" Romeo, Gabriele Dal Fiume, Davide Iafisco and Gioacchino Sauro) eventually found the time to realize an idea that had been stirring in their heads for a long time.
Each of them had already found themselves welcoming young aspiring pipemakers into their laboratories, yet these were always fragmentary and, in most cases, unproductive experiences. During long discussions, the four had repeatedly wondered if something could be done to raise the level of Italian handmade pipes production . And not just that, it was also necessary to find a way to "protect" promising young people from the pitfalls of an increasingly competitive and varied market, which had already burned many of them in the past.
With each confrontation it became increasingly clear the need to create a space where elderly artisans, with experience in the construction technique of high grade, could follow promising young people before they got lost in the illusory labyrinth of social media. To realise this, it was necessary to build a structure with the canons of the "school,” but which was not forced within the stakes of bureaucratized organizations. However, it was above all necessary to put the craftsman’s ethics first, to do things for the pleasure of doing them well and to transmit one’s own knowledge for free to those who had proven to deserve it.
Each Master brought in the boys he followed, and so the Accademia della Pipa was born which, in order to avoid any kind of bureaucratization, opted for the formula of the "Free Association".
The Academy's Charter of Values is a genuine ethical Manifesto. Here's the first page:
The pipe is a symbolic artefact, the carrier of a way of understanding life. That is why pipemakers are not just craftsmen but also peace builders, since the pipe represents serenity, meditation, dedication, passion, pleasure.
The craftsmen joining the Academy care about a well done work for themselfes. Even dealing with a practical activity, their work is basically a means to reach a different level goal: putting personal involvement in the things they do.
The culture of Italian pipes originates from the genius and industriousness of in series manufacturing. In full awareness of all this, the Academy believes that an evolution in style and quality is necessary.
For this reason, the Academy thinks the moment has come to make the most of the creators of high quality unique pieces, those who operate according to the rules of the so called high grade. Manufacturing and high grade are not competitors. The two entities belong to a single front, with due regard for mutual differences and are perfectly able to compete on an equal footing with other nations schools.
To each member of the Academy, constructive perfection and high quality in materials are a modus vivendi, because each pipe is one-of-a-kind and it is the expression of the craftsman who built it.
The Academy will ensure that smokers know and appreciate the quality of a high grade pipe, and the dealers become aware that promoting such products enhances their function.
Experiencing new shapes and building processes is an exercise in creativity, as long as it is the expression of a conscious mental path. Sinergy with the art world is necessary to widen every craftsman’s culture and style horizons.
The free transmission of knowledge is a form of gift and love, the exchange of expertise is growth.
Granting a future to the pipe world cannot be separated from detecting, training and promoting young talents.
The Academy sets out as top priority the creation of a high grade Italian School.
The teaching activity is conducted on the ZOOM platform, through purely technical lessons, which, however, often also touch the world of art, design, marketing and research on materials.
Pupils regularly visit the Masters' laboratories, where workshops or simple evaluations of progress are organized. A private Facebook page hosts the videos of the lessons and a remarkable number of in-depth technical documents on good laboratory practices.
One of the strong points that the Academy wants to develop in the future is the opening to other international schools and to foreign masters of great renown. To date, masters Eder Mathias and Wojtech Pastuch have joined the Academy, and, whenever they can, participate in the Zoom sessions.
The Academy is a partner of the Pipa Club Italia and twinned with the Confreire des Maitres Pipier de Saint Claude.
The Masters of the Academy are keen to emphasize that, according to them, School does not mean stylistic flattening, rather, it is imperative to preserve the personal style of each member. Imagination and creativity are for the Academy subjective resources that must never be extinguished or frustrated, for this reason the Masters never judge the shapes chosen by the pupils, but the technical precision of the drillings, finishes, and the respect for the concepts of harmony and cleanliness of the lines.
As of May 15, 2023, there are 23 students belonging to the Academy.
Accademia della Pipa