What was the turning point for you?
One day I made a toy van out of wood for one of my nephews’ birthday. I was surprised to see that he and his friends preferred to play with that rather than with a modern videogame. I wrote a letter to a newspaper to tell them about what I considered to be a beautiful story that I had to share.
What happened after the letter was published?
They came to visit me and dedicated a feature to my work. After a couple of weeks, Sergio Loro Piana, the late king of cashmere, called me: he wanted to order some toy lorries for his grandchildren. After that he wanted to meet me and he ordered more for his shops.
© Bottega Conticelli
What's the secret to your success in leatherwork?
Experimentation. I’m 100 percent self-taught, and I challenge leather, exposing it to unusual treatments, because I want to understand how far I can push myself. In many of my creations I use ‘drunken’ leather, which has a lot of purple veins: I soak it in wine, to see what would happen.
How do you define something that is well made?
An object is well made when it is crafted without shortcuts, respecting the time necessary. Each one of my creations is an act of love – that’s why I prefer to focus on one-off pieces – and to me, love means respect, also towards the person who will buy that object.