‘We've kept the production process exactly as it was in 1633’

Manufacturing slowly in the age of fast retail is a gamble. But it's something that the Marchi family's textile-printing business has carved out as its niche.
Marchi family 16x9 hero

The Marchi family have been running their textile-printing workshop, Antica Stamperia Artigiana Marchi, for four generations. Yet, the equipment they use goes back further still: their mangano (mangle) is 389 years old and counting.

The mangle is a five-meter-tall wooden wheel – operated by someone continually walking inside of it – that moves a 5.5 ton stone slab across wooden pins wrapped in raw hemp, ironing the rough material to a smooth finish that's extremely hard to replicate with other methods. 

‘Wanting to keep our mangle alive and the production process intact exactly as it was in 1633 was an important challenge in an era when everything's mechanized and computerized,’ says Lara Marchi, co-owner of the workshop. 

The family also realized that they'd need to diversify in order to attract a larger clientele, so they began selling hand-painted products, which Lara creates using dyes made from original recipes dating back to the 1600s, but with modern lines and drawings on materials like linen and cotton. 

‘Experience has taught us that our customers don't follow mass approval, but have very different tastes, requests and needs. So we try to create items that can embrace all of these diversities, even if it's not easy,’ says Lara.

For our ‘25 big lessons from small business’ series, we scoured the world to find inspiring people to share the lessons they've learned from running their own companies. Click here to read the other stories.

This special feature was first published in Courier issue 45, February/March 2022. To purchase the issue or become a subscriber, head to our webshop.

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