A family of craftsmen and a dream coming true
The story of the Valigeria Grignola is that of a family: a father, mother and two children, Marilena and Giorgio. First two, then four and eventually eight hands that since 1966 have been busy caressing, sewing and handling leathers both exotic and not only. Four craftsmen, a job and a passion; all made by hand following in every way, the philosophy of “Made in Italy” by producing products completely designed, manufactured and assembled in Italy. In this way, they have been able to give their own name to one of the best known brands in the world. A little like saying that the quality and the result reflect the Grignola Family.
By looking at Franco in the face, it is immediately understood that he’s not one to joke. He was just a boy of 14 after World War II when he began working in a shop to learn the trade. After a few years, in 1966, he set up his own workshop and finally gave life to his dream; create, design and make personally piece by piece, seam after seam, each “masterpiece” coming to life in his workshop. The passion and results achieved have made the Grignola brand stronger and stronger. In time, important names and celebrities started passing through his door. They had discovered a place, in Varese, where leather is the focus; where the concept of luggage, handbags, jewellery boxes or bags has no boundaries; and where anything may be fashioned according to the wishes of his customers. In short: a real workshop where all you need is an idea and it will made. But if no ideas are to be had, no problem, Franco, his wife and children have plenty of those.
Franco realized quickly that the greatest satisfaction comes right at that moment when he’s fulfilled a client’s desire. In order to succeed, the rules of the Grignola bottega are few and simple; creativity and innovation are allowed as long as everything is “done by hand” and according to the finest artisan traditions.
Only certified leather and a world of customizations
The selection of leathers needed in making the luggage is the first and perhaps the most important step. Among the great varieties available, the Grignola family moves skilfully by selecting only certified leathers and without having to sacrifice the originality of the final result. Yet, at the same time, they refuse all that has not been guaranteed by the international CITES certification. So, along side Italian calfskin is elephant, ostrich, crocodile and Arapaima gigas (a large fish commonly found in the Amazon River) in an innumerable variants of colours. The taste of Grignola does the rest and the result is amazing; large travel bags and briefcases in addition to special accessories like watchcases, cigar humidors, golf bags and jewelry boxes. The number of possibilities is remarkable, as is the creativity and talent at the service of the myriad of demands made by their customers. And if someone needs a bag to carry a bicycle wheel? “No problem.” Giorgio assures us, the eldest son. “We study the shape, the size and the specific needs of the object followed by the design a model (in Italian jargon, it is called a salpa) which is then shown to the customer. If it’s an “ok”, we proceed with production. Otherwise, we work on the necessary changes. Naturally, the model itself requires a good deal of time; hours dedicated to coming up with the idea and its creation. Each step constantly accompanied by the same care and attention to detail.”
It isn’t always easy to understand the process behind the production of objects which are used daily and tend to be neglected and where most of the time, are extremely complex even when they are designed. A simple bag computer may take up a whole days work if it is a model being made for the first time. Of course, looking at the design of a golf bag and comparing it with the finished product, it is impossible not to feel a sense of awe and wonder, especially if to illustrate that they come from the same designers.
Leather and carbon bags: jewels of style, gems of technology
The Grignola family knows they have chosen a tortuous trail; when the paths become narrower and narrower, staying true to one’s own belief becomes even more complicated. But instead of being scared off, the team rose to the challenge and thanks to the design and creation of the first trolley in carbon and leather (in collaboration with S.G. Compositi), once again, they hit the mark. The carbon shell, high-tech material and therefore cold by definition, is equipped with a soul warm with leather inserts and interiors. The inspiration came as they observed sports cars and it seemed the moment had come to create a bag to match perfectly, both in material and size.
One year is the time it took to successfully complete each step, from the design to the completion of the prototype. Today the result is all to admire; a real jewel of technology enhanced with perfect mechanics (such as those of the wheels, mounted on the same ball bearings used in sports cars) and all with the pleasures of leather. A product truly capable of combining technique and elegance with the addition of one of the benefits offered by Grignola: the infinite number of custom-tailoring possible.
The bridge between the past and future has been thrown. Franco has won another battle. It can surely be said that in this family, unity has given the strength to look to the future with confidence.
photo courtesy of Luca Pradella