The history of modern Sesto ceramics starts around 1737, with the foundation of the Ginori Manufacturing company by Marquis Carlo Ginori. In the following decades, the company’s production line kept constantly growing (in 1774 it employed more than 100 workers). Ginori was known throughout Europe for its majolica and porcelain of great artistic value.
The artistic features of its production remained unchanged for a long period. In the last four decades of the 1800s, however, the company underwent an industrial transformation. The number of employees and items they produced grew steadily until the company employed no less than 1,400 workers and produced up to 4 million pieces. Nonetheless, the artistic quality of its production remained high. Ginori was awarded prizes in many international exhibitions featuring its best production: precious ‘egg-shell’ china, 16th-century style majolica, crockery and industrial ceramics. After the acquisition of the company by the Richard group in 1896, its industrial development was pushed even further forward. Artistic production, however, maintained its important role in the company. During the Liberty Age, the company—now called Richard-Ginori—produced items of great value.
During the 1920s and 1930s, a novel series designed by Gio Ponti set up a new stylistic standard for artistic craftsmanship. Creative collaboration between designers and producers would become more and more frequent throughout the following decades. Some of Italy’s best designers still cooperate with firms in the Sesto district today. The area’s first handicraft workshops were often established by former Ginori painters and modelers, between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. The Colonnata Ceramics Society was founded around 1891 and the Industrial Society for Artistic Majolica was established around 1896. The latter was taken over at the beginning of the 1900s by one of its founders, Egisto Fantechi.
The Federal Ceramics Cooperative, Ernesto Conti Manufacturing and Alfredo Ciulli Artistic Ceramics were all established between 1900 and 1915. Other workshops began their production in the 1920s, as was the case with Barraud & Messeri, Carraresi & Lucchesi and Alma Manufacturing, S.A.C.A. At the beginning of World War II, the area hosted about thirty ceramics workshops. Some of them were still working according to the stylistic trends of the late 1800s; still others managed to modify their production to suit contemporary trends. However, the astounding development of handicraft production occurred only after the war; once more, its success coincided with a time of crisis and change in Richard-Ginori’s manufacturing. Today, the Sesto Fiorentino district hosts about 100 companies that employ ancient ceramics techniques and traditions in their workshops.