My last post talked about Aurifil products in some detail - in fact my friend Nicky kindly said I sounded like quite a nerd. However, my main reason for visiting Milan was to meet the team and find out more about the company and its history. Here I am going to share some snippets from my day.
Aurifil CEO Elena Gregotti grew up surrounded by the sewing industry. In 1957 her father Angelo founded Studio Auriga, and the company started producing punched program. In their neighbouring factory she showed me a vintage multi needle embroidery machine similar to that purchased by her father in post-war Italy.
In that period the designs were each individually punched into paper by a manually operated punch, and decorative patterns would then be created onto cloth.
Elena described very fond memories of observing these procedures as a young girl, amazed at the fine work and attention to detail needed to get the right results.
The family business developed and Studio Auriga now deals in very high tech Japanese Tajima embroidery machines, all of which I saw in action in the sister factory in Saronno.
They use amazing laser technology to cut designs on cloth as tough as leather, make intricate lace for haute couture and produce fine art pictures in collaboration with famous photographer Steve McCurry. The picture below has 4.6 million stitches, 87 thread colours and took several months to make – it was amazing in the flesh.
Elena also explained to me the meaning of the name Aurifil, which if pronounced correctly would sound like ow-re-fill, but unless you are Italian is just doesn’t quite roll off the tongue.
The Studio Auriga logo features Auriga himself and is the Latin word for the driver of a chariot. He is seen below with embroidery machines in place of horses. When the new thread business was developed in 2007 (Aurifil USA) they wanted to keep it attached to the original brand so took the “Auri” stem and added “fil” as filo is the Italian word for thread.
Elena’s passion and enthusiasm for Aurifil is matched by that of CBDO Alex Veronelli. His father co-founded the company back in 1983. Alex’s commitment to the brand is demonstrated through his mastery of social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and more recently Persicope. He genuinely loves what he does and has put the company right at the centre of the quilting world for both modern and traditional crafters. When we met I had one of those awkward moments when you feel like you know somebody because you have followed them in the virtual world and don't quite know what to say! However, my degree in Italian helped me along and we had a nice chat. I also met lots of other lovely people working behind the scenes.
During my day in Milan what I did learn is that many of the people at Aurifil HQ don’t really sew –with the exception of Elly in the Artistic Department who loves cross-stitch. So my next mission is to try and change this. My first volunteers are Brad and Alex, pictured below. They have opted to make a tie, to look the part when hanging out in Milan, one of the fashion capitals of the world. No pressure.
We are meeting up later this month so watch this space for updates. I may even have figured out how to Periscope the lesson and broadcast live by then. If not perhaps Mr Veronelli can help us out!
Check out @studioauriga on Twitter for a really good insight into the Tajima embroidery machines and videos of them in action.
For more information on historical embroidery techniques check out: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punched_tape
Thank you for stopping by.