“ When a thought becomes an idea and an idea becomes an object, I can say to have created something”.
When Almini's founder, Remo Almini opened his company in 1958, the focus was on paper products. His “cartotecnica” - paper making became renowned for high quality hand crafted and customized office stationary. Some of the product is still in continuous production today: accordion document folders and signature books that are still in used for signatures on many important desks.
Since 1989, Almini Milano has been run by Remo's son Amos and his wife Elisabetta in a new location.
When demand for classic stationery continued to decline with increasing office digitization, Amos had a brilliant idea. He incorporated new ecological material, recycled leather bonded with natural latex, and developed a brand new range of products from bags and accessories to stationary and home decor. All this utilizing only the factory's original machinery used for paper production.
Although in a much smaller operation, Almini brand continues thanks to Amos' dedication and ingenuity in the face of change.
When developing “Libro” notebooks in the past year for Conmateria, we visited Almini offices many times. When the time came to pack them into boxes ready for shipping, we took one more tour of the production floor. It always seemed more like a museum of paper making machinery. Amos Almini, with a lot of enthusiasm stops at a few of them to show us various specific operational steps. “Do you see this hollow punch? It stamps braille letters”
Against the wall was an original beauty, still in use today to cut and stack paper.
Passing a sewing machine where we sat together during one of our numerous trial samples, the tour concludes with Amos remarking smilingly: “This machine was in the storage for more than twenty years. I took it out again to glue the cloth binding tape onto your Libro notebooks. It is a very traditional book binding technique that requires one at a time handling. Don't expect me to do thousands like this!”
It is the world of multigenerational family owed productions that I find so fascinating and would like to learn more about. Before we said good buy, I asked Amos last few questions.
P: As a child, did you help around in your father's factory? Were you given a specific task?
A : Before becoming an apprentice, my father first of all taught me how to work. He showed me how to operate every single machine and made me understand all production steps of the factory floor, including the fact that it could be tiring at times. This hands on knowledge was in fact what made me realize the full potential of the operation in its entirety and became invaluable in time of need, when we had to reinvent out product and started using recycled leather without any additional investment.
P: How was the factory different back then?
A: It was a very busy operation with a lot of employees, as all the product required a lot of manual work. When I took over, we were twelve and at the moment there is five of us for all that needs to be done.
P: What do you enjoy about your work and what makes you keep going?
A: Even though I spend long hours between the office and the factory floor every day, it makes me feel good when I can realize my ideas and see beautiful objects that others appreciate as well. I know that I am doing my work well when our clients call us to say thank you, when they are happy with our product.
Ps- The design of this notebook is inspired by my childhood school notebooks from former Czechoslovakia