For some years, one of Sykes Wilford's long term goals for Smokingpipes.com has been to facilitate the creation and foster the development of a well priced, super high quality brand made in the United States. Simultaneously, then in New Haven, Connecticut, Todd Johnson was already pursuing the same goals. Both he and Sykes were interested in the creation of pipes that fit neither of the existing molds for domestic pipe production-- the mass market and the super high grade. Medici is that brand.
The brand is named in honor of Lorenzo de' Medici, perhaps the most famous of 15th century Florentines. Lorenzo was an ardent patron of the arts and the late 15th century boom in artistic and architectural endeavors in Florence can largely be attributed to his generous patronage. Lorenzo 'il Magnifico' left an indelible mark in the annals of art history by fostering the artistic endeavors of talented men at a critical point in history in a city that became the locus for such endeavors.
In many respects, Lorenzo is both the namesake and the inspiration for the Medici brand. It is our hope that this brand will help to begin the process of creating a pipe industry in the United States between the likes of Dr. Grabow and Kaywoodie at one extreme and Todd Johnson, Michael Lindner and Jody Davis at the other. We hope that Medici offers the necessary locus for, literally, a renaissance in American pipe making.
Though the brand was unveiled in late 2003, few are familiar with these Italian-sounding, but American-made, pipes by Todd Johnson. Initially conceived as a moderately-priced counterpart to his existing brand, the project was put aside for much of 2004 and 2005. Though Todd had developed the production methods and processes that made the brand possible, he simply lacked the time to make many and, consequently, fewer than fifty were made in two years. Between pursuing a Master's degree at Yale and making pipes full time, little was left over to nurture the brand. Like so many great ideas, it proved, at that time, impossible to fully execute.
Having completed his degree, Todd moved to Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, a brief drive from Smokingpipes.com in Little River, SC. This proximity made a number of collaborative projects possible. Even before Todd (and family) moved to South Carolina, Todd and Sykes planned to reinvigorate the Medici brand. Sykes was as excited about the prospects of the brand as Todd, and figured he had a solution to Todd's central problem.
Smokingpipes.com also had a problem. While it had limited facilities for pipe restoration for the thousands of estate pipes it sells each year, it simply lacked the capacity, not to mention the expertise, to expand this area of its business. It needed access to better equipment, space and additional staff.
As is so often the case, Todd's problem with Medici and Smokingpipes.com's problem fit together very nicely to be solved simultaneously. Today, Medici pipes are made primarily by Adam Davidson, a member of the Smokingpipes.com team. Adam, with a degree from Purdue University in Industrial Design, brings incredible artistic talent and experience to Smokingpipes.com and Medici, but, until joining us, had almost no background in pipes or pipe making. Todd supervises the manufacture of the Medici brand and is involved closely.