Guilloche is a decorative engraving technique that uses special lathes. Guided manually, these machines draw a precise, intricate, repeated pattern on the metal surface.
Different to freehand engraving, which is suited to more naturalistic and free decorations, guilloche engraving is typically mechanical and reiterative. It allows for infinite different patterns by varying the parameters of the process, which work in concert with the technician’s technical sensibility and aesthetic judgement.
The exact origin of the first guilloche machines is uncertain, but perhaps they were Swiss or invented by a French engineer named Guillot.
The first examples of its use are found on watch cases engraved with the year 1624. The definitive introduction of guilloche in watchmaking dates back to 1786, when Abraham-Louis Breguet began using it to decorate the dials and cases of his watches. In the 19th century, the technique became highly popular, largely thanks to the work of Peter Carl Fabergé.
For the first time, Olivari has focused exclusively on the surface, on its enhancement, whereas our norm is to concentrate our attention on the volumes, on their respective proportions, on the aesthetics and performance of the surface finishes, but not, as mentioned, on their characterisation.
he decoration that Olivari thought was most interesting and most in line with our way of understanding design was guilloché engraving because of its ability to bring a surface to ‘life’ due to the interaction of geometrical signs with light: a kind of vibration that is perceived when the point of view shifts, as indeed occurs when approaching and grasping a handle.
Further exploring the technological aspects of this particular decoration, Olivari discovered a world parallel to his own typically industrial realm: that of the top level artisan, where work is still done by hand using fascinating machines from last century that require the operator to be highly experienced and very sensitive, attributes refined through years of practice.
The Diana and Athena series of handles, as well as the decorations Damier, Barley, Chevron, Rank, Ligne and Panier are the fruits of a long research in reaching a mastery, also technical, of guilloche engraving.
Starting from history, from that of decorative motifs to that of production techniques, has led us to this result, which, we like to think, is open to new developments.
With engraving similar to grains, a shiny sophisticated allure.