A company born in Tuscany from the cleaning of a cane field. At the center a farmer-philosopher and an architect. The process from formation to finished product.
Inventing a profession from scratch is not just a figure of speech when it comes to bamboo. Stefano Martinelli and Sara Violante, with the help of Stefano Lazzarini, cultivate it, harvest it, use it to create structures, furnishing objects and artistic installations (that they design themselves) and promote its knowledge through training courses that combine theory and practice. An incessant succession of activities that characterize the origin and development of Bambuseto, a reality born at the end of 2010 thanks to the intuition of Martinelli (41 year old farmer and craftsman from Stiava, a hamlet of Massarosa in the province of Lucca, with a degree in philosophy and a past as a salesman and consultant) and Giacomo Mencarini, who left in 2017 to devote himself fully to the construction of buildings made of straw. Sara Violante, architect by profession and already a collaborator of Bambuseto, who discovered bamboo during a workshop held by the company, would soon take over.
The turning point
The name recalls the natural forest of about 5 thousand square meters and reeds up to 12-15 meters high (it is located in Capezzano Pianore, a hamlet of Camaiore, the same province) in which most of their activity is concentrated. It certainly would not have been possible if a couple of years before the conception of Bambuseto Martinelli and Mencarini, together with a couple of friends, had not decided to recover it after decades of abandonment, giving it a new life. As Stefano says: «It had become a dark and inaccessible place, we committed ourselves to cleaning up the dry canes and removing the rotten material. It was a way to do good to the environment and also to ourselves.» The training period in the Langhe with Lorenzo Bar, president of the Italian Bamboo Association he met in 2008, contributed to his personal and professional turning point. «It was during that stay that I really realized the potential of bamboo. Plus, I liked the idea of working outdoors.»
Driven by this conviction, after several integrated courses with continuous experimentation, Martinelli abandoned everything else to focus exclusively on bamboo, co-founding Bambuseto when he was not even thirty years old. «We started totally from scratch: at the time we were among the very few in Italy. We started with the sale of the canes and the construction of simple objects, then developing collaborations with various professionals.» Among them was Sara Violante, who, after graduating in Architecture in Florence, deepened her knowledge of bamboo by participating in a series of workshops, also in Australia, where she had moved for a while. She is in charge of designing and building artifacts of all shapes and sizes (chairs and lamps, just to name a few) in the small workshop just a few minutes drive from the forest (of the species Phyllostachys Viridiglaucescens).
«We’re letting it rest now because we’re entering the germination phase,» explains Martinelli, since 2019 president of Madeinbamboo, the first network of Italian companies in the sector. Sometimes, however, ill-intentioned people get into it to cut the canes and steal the shoots, «causing great damage to the entire ecosystem, as well as to our business.» Con Sara regularly organizes courses and workshops open to everyone. «The world is changing: bamboo can no longer be done without, people who can work it will be needed and we will train them,» says Stefano, who also holds ad hoc classes in schools and universities. «It’s a fulfilling way of life and allows us to spread beauty.