Italian fabricator focuses on high-end design

September 1, 2002
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The refined image of Alfredo Salvatori srl is not only evidenced in its product line or in its packaging, but also in the company it keeps. In a recent edition of Architectural Digest's "AD-Toscana," a feature on the Salvatori family's stoneworking operation in Querceta, Italy, can be found among the features on the wines, fabrics, crystal and artwork of the Tuscany region.

Founded in 1946, the company's hierarchy includes Alfredo Salvatori, the company's founder, along with his wife Maria and sons, Guido and Gabriele. Sitting in view of the site where Michelangelo selected his Carrara White marble, the staff is so close to the stone's heritage that they "breathe it every day," according to Gabriele Salvatori.

The majority of the company's production - approximately 65% - is field tiles with specialty finishes, such as tumbled, pillowed and other surfaces. Its material selection includes unique colors of limestone and travertine, particularly varieties from Italy. Tile sizes include small formats such as 4 x 4 inches as well as larger sizes such as 16 x 24 inches.

In addition to field tiles, the company also produces mosaics, moldings and borders. Another specialty is designer sinks, with styles ranging from minimalist to ornate. The company has 20 standard models and colors of sinks, and it can also fabricate custom-designed sinks based on drawings.

No matter what the finished product is, fabrication work always begins with solid stone blocks. "Our customers want consistency, so we always need to begin with blocks. Even for mosaics, we don't want to use someone else's rejects." To ensure uniformity in size and thickness, all of the material is pre-honed on both sides, even the mosaic pieces.

The emphasis on quality and consistency at Alfredo Salvatori depends not only on the raw materials, but also on maintaining consistency in the fabrication methods. For example, to keep uniformity between antiqued tiles and moldings, Alfredo Salvatori chooses to tumble the 12-inch moldings, rather than sandblasting or acid-washing the material. "We have some breakage, but we run the tumblers at a reduced level. [Tumbling the moldings] makes our costs rise, but the quality of the end product is better and more consistent," Gabriele Salvatori said. "If you acid wash or sandblast, you can change the color, and you may have to add a sealer. Out process allows you to keep the natural color of the stone."

Equipment at the factory includes bridge saws, a tile line and large tumbler, but due to the nature of the production, the most important aspect of the process is the skill of the 20 employees who work at Alfredo Salvatori. Once products are ready for shipment, they are packaged in custom cardboard boxes bearing the Alfredo Salvatori designer logo, and these boxes are then shipped in wooden crates.

A total of 70% of Alfredo Salvatori's production is shipped to the U.S., where it is sold through distributors. The remaining production is consumed by the Italian market as well as Northern Europe.

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