Lorenza Bessone is the driving force behind Solelò, a brand of handmade ceramics with a minimalist style. In her workshop in Saluzzo (Cuneo), the city where she was born and raised, she crafts objects and accessories in stoneware entirely by hand, from the design to the processing, from the finishing to the enamels, which are also handmade. In 2021 she was one of the finalists in the "Artigiano del Cuore" (Artisan of the Heart) competition of the platform Wellmade.
Tell us your story. How was Solelò created?
Solelò was born in Turin one evening in May 2015. It was a decision taken lightly, without thinking too much about it, initially as a hobby. Of course, at the time I was not aware of the profound revolution I was starting in my life. In 2017 I realised that the creation aspect alone was no longer enough for me. So I bought a kiln, rented a space at the Docks Dora (warehouses in Turin) and transferred all my production there. From that moment on, I was able to dedicate myself to another aspect that I was particularly interested in, that of glazes, and I took courses in application and chemistry between Faenza and Turin. Ceramics was inexorable in my life and the further I went, the more I gave it the space it required
Was there someone who played a key role in your training and your decision to take up this profession?
Probably, if I had worked for a different person in 2015, things would have gone differently. Instead, I worked for Enzo Biffi Gentili, a ceramics historian and collector. Entering his studio was a feast for the eyes. You were catapulted into a parallel world, with ceramics of every shape, size and colour. There were so many of them that, even though we had been working together for several years, every time I came in I saw one I hadn't noticed before. I owe my first encounter with ceramics, the most theoretical and most 'admired' one, to him. At the same time there was the practical experience with my teacher, Laura Astengo, which was decisive for me. Laura not only guided me in learning how to work the lathe correctly, but also taught me to respect the earth, to know and interpret it, to 'feel' it with my hands.
What inspires you to create your works?
From what my eye perceives as harmonious in everyday life. The things and places where this harmony comes from are the most varied: from everyday objects to food, from mountain landscapes, to which I am particularly attached, to urban or industrial ones. In general, I am much more fascinated by the profiles of things than by their decoration. In some cases I focus on reinterpreting certain shapes, in others I just let my hands guide me in the creation, and then return to the object once it is finished and study it from a "critical" point of view. Since I deal mainly with ceramics and furniture, right from the design phase I try to consider every single object in relation to the role it will play, almost always part of a whole. It must be harmonious not only as a single piece, but also inserted in the context of which it will become part.
What do you feel when you work with clay?
The condition in which you immerse yourself while working is a very fascinating aspect. In order to be able to centre a ball of earth on a spinning plate, you need to be solely and exclusively there with your mind. The reason is that it is you who has to give balance to the object you are creating, and this requires complete presence. In the hectic world in which we live, with its constant and uninterrupted stimuli, in which we are often required to be simultaneously focused on several issues, being able to be in one place unconditionally is definitely therapeutic. It is only once you are focused on the 'here and now' that you can begin to 'feel' with your hands: feel when the earth needs to be wetted, whether the thickness of the object is uniform, whether it needs to be dried a little before continuing the work to prevent it from collapsing. On the spur of the moment you would say that these are all decisions that depend on sight, but they are all about touch.
What do you love most about your work?
It's difficult to give a simple answer. There are many aspects I love. I decide to focus on the less obvious, the more personal, the more connected to the 'dialogue' with the element in the handwork: the earth has its own times and teaches you to respect them. Its teaching method is quite brutal and is made up of cracks and fractures. To give a practical example, you can't make and finish a piece on the same day, because the earth needs to lose its excess water gradually. Finishing is at least a day later. Provided that the object is not particularly large, provided that it is not winter and provided that it is not raining, all factors that slow down the drying time. It is you who respect and wait, you who comply. It's never the other way around, and it doesn't matter how much of a hurry you're in.
Have you already had the opportunity to work with designers or on particular projects? If so, which ones? What experiences have they been for you?
The moment of design, the definition of the "what" and the "how" is one of the aspects that I cherish most. I have had the pleasure of working with various clients, chefs and private individuals, who had very clear ideas about the type of tableware they wanted. The comparison in this type of situation is always enriching: the study of shapes, lines, finishing details. Normally, in contexts of this kind, I always try to find and explain the critical points of the characteristics of a given object, because my aim is to go beyond aesthetics and put it to the intensive use of everyday life, to make it truly 'functional'. This approach allows me to establish a real dialogue with the client, to listen to his ideas and needs, interpret them and finally translate them into something real, an object that is exactly what he wanted. A tailor-made ceramic.