Here is a short story of MGN Plasters and its founder Naldo Busato, the third in a line of Master Craftsmen from the Venice area, specializing in lime work, traditional materials and heritage restoration.
A Traditional Apprenticeship
The mastery of Naldo Busato is a family tradition. He took his first steps into the world of restoration guided by his father's teachings, a local mason restoration craftsman from Vicenza, a small town near Venice.
Accompanying him to work from the age of 9, he was deeply impressed by some of the architecture emerging from the Italian countryside. At the age of 11 he receives a special gift for Christmas: a huge jute sack with the restorer's typical work tools.
He began to work alongside his father, on construction sites of villas and churches: preparing a lime pit, learning to mix the mortar, and the techniques of fresco and dusting. It was a real apprenticeship of the past - learning from his teacher all he has to teach.
One day a craftsman specializing in marble, but with no children of his own to pass on his craft, asks his father "to loan" him one of his three sons: "Give me the most passionate one, so I can teach him everything I know so he can continue my story." And the most passionate one, of course, was Naldo himself, who was ready to learn again, joining the master to further improve his techniques.
Learning from the Last Venetian Masters
In the 1970s and 80s, through word of mouth, Naldo began to collaborate with the shipyards of Venice, where a real boom was underway.
Working in Venice, he also found the vast experience of the last real Venetian masters, who's technical skills were about to be lost. As a result of social changes, many children - instead of following their father's profession - often took different paths, leaving the masters of a trade with no one to pass their legacy on. Thanks to his talent and dedication, he had the unique opportunity to learn the traditional restoration techniques directly from the last Venetian masters.
This knowledge handed over to him is an ancient knowledge, transmitted from father to son through many generations, literally accompanied by the "tools of the trade". When a pupil was ready, the master, together with his knowledge, also handed over his own tools: "These tools were my life, my story. Now they are yours, to continue.” - a symbolic guarantee that the art of the trade had been transmitted to someone who one day would also pass it on.
From Venice to Ancient Rome - Rediscovery and Innovation
The need for new and more performing materials was higher than ever. In 1980 he founded MGN in a need to recreate traditional lime plasters for the restoration of historic buildings, and distribute them in the form of premixed products.
MGN was the first Italian plaster manufacturer to supply customized materials based on old, traditional formulas and original raw materials.
In 1985, his Venetian experience leads to collaboration with the Superintendency (Italian Department of Cultural Heritage) and its laboratory, and Naldo Busato welcomes this new possibility. His research into the rehabilitation of old damp walls starts from Venice, driven by local needs.
From a collaboration with the Polytechnic of Milan, a research programme of Roman mortars begins, those being studied by researchers on site. Through laboratory testing, numerous attempts were made to reproduce them. The first major breakthrough, however, came in 1985, after a researcher from Naples, with a profound knowledge of pozzolans, explains him at technical-scientific level the behavior of Roman mortars, illustrating the concepts directly on buildings during a visit to Pompeii.
With this knowledge, Naldo is able to formulate a mortar based on an old Roman technology, which if applied correctly can last over 50 years. This is how Rinzaffo MGN was born. Early applications in Venice of this mortar from the 1980s are still intact today.
In the late 1980s, while restoring some of Andrea Palladio's buildings (a famous 16th century Venetian architect, influenced by Roman and Greek architecture, primarily by Vitruvius. Widely considered one of the most influential individuals in the history of architecture), backed by many years of practical experience, supported by modern analysis techniques, he reconstructed one of Palladio's traditional plasters, today known as Nigra Padoana MGN.
Own In-House Research Lab
In the 1990s Naldo traveled throughout Italy, further expanding his knowledge from more other local masters. The result of this journey is an enormous technical competence based on an ancient knowledge, which today is reflected in the excellence of MGN products.
In 2003, after relying on Venetian and the Superintendency (conservation department) laboratories for so many years, MGN's own in-house research lab was born. Dictated by the unavoidable need to have better, more durable and more sustainable materials, knowing how important it is to test a product in all conditions, this cutting-edge in-house lab, accredited by Accredia (Italy's national accreditation body), is dedicated to in-house research, analysis of materials, and testing of formulas.
Today, with international construction sites, 5 production plants, including new lines for green buildings, MGN, thanks to the wise guidance of Master Busato, is now ready to continue a tradition of success.