Europe

An Italian Maker Crafts Umbrellas With Personality

For many, an umbrella may seem a pedestrian, often disposable object.

Not so for the umbrella maker Carlo Suino, 60, who believes an umbrella should not only last a lifetime but should also reflect the personality of its owner.

“It’s a bit like a business card,” Mr. Suino said on a recent cloudless morning in his curiosity-filled shop on Turin’s narrow Via Sesia.

“I have an umbrella that says I’m an exuberant person, or I’m a person who loves elegance, that I’m a very classic person, or that I’m crazy,” said Mr. Suino, whose offerings are meticulously handcrafted according to his clients’ build, tastes and habits.

Carlo Suino working on the frame of an umbrella in his workshop. The main objective, he said, is “to have a product that is always better than the one made previously.”Credit…Camilla Ferrari for The New York Times

Mr. Suino has umbrella making in his blood: He is the fifth generation of his family to make umbrellas, starting with his great-great-grandfather Bernardo, who left Corio, a mountain village, in 1890 and headed to Turin in search of work. As a child, he sometimes slept in the fabric cuts on the floor of his grandfather’s workshop, Mr. Suino said. At age 10, he began learning the craft for pocket money, and at 15, he could assemble an umbrella.

Now, as the owner and sole employee of Ombrellificio Torinese, the company his grandfather, Carlo, founded in 1931, much of Mr. Suino’s work uses the knowledge and experience handed down from generation to generation. But “the main objective is to have a product that is always better than the one made previously,” he said.

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