For the past 13 years, Norman Vilalta has been on a “personal voyage”, after he decided to give up his profession as a lawyer in Buenos Aires and start his apprenticeship as an artisan shoemaker in Italy. Now this Argentinian born in Patagonia is based in Barcelona, and has become one of the best-known artisan shoe makers in the country. From his workshop on c/ Enric Granados, he makes exclusive bespoke shoes for clients all over the world. Each pair is unique and completely hand-made, and he spends about 200 hours on each pair of shoes. Norman shares with us some of the things he started his voyage with, and others he has picked up along the way
8. Hammer from my grandfather & French wooden tool. When I was learning how to make shoes as an apprentice in Florence, my mother removed the rust from my grandfather's cobbling hammer to give it to me. He wasn't a shoemaker, he was a fisherman from the south of Italy. It happened that it was the tradition at that time to fix the family's shoes to save money. I still remember when I was a child looking at it, who could have said that I would use this tool all the time. The French wooden tool was added later on a trip to a French flea market.
1, 7. Shoemaker's chair & last making bench blade. For artisans, our tools have a very important meaning. We use them and, when we don't use them any more, there is a tradition of passing them on to another shoemaker. My “companion” from the beginning was my shoemaker's chair. I've used it each day for more than 10 years and I got it from a shoemaker friend, actually one of the best I have ever met, Josep Cunillera. It is the same with this last making bench blade in my hand, a very rare tool. This one is more than 10 years old and is completely hand-made.
4, 5, 6, 3: Poncho, red hat, formal hat, orange gloves. I love my great Andean poncho, the colours, its form, I use it a lot in winter. For more than a year my red hat has been almost my signature, as well as my formal hat. I like hats and gloves because they are an important part of our style, and strong colours chase away the boring winter.
2, 9, 10. Fly fishing reel, Decon Chelsea boots, Wabi Sabi shoes. I love going fishing in the Pyrenees and my fly fishing reel came with me all the way from my native Patagonia. The inspiration for my Wabi Sabi Collection probably comes from Japan and Patagonia. Finally, the Decon Chelsea boots are one of my personal designs that I sell all over the world.