recently had the opportunity to chat with my good friend, Kaz Walters, about the new Savinelli releases for 2024: Fragola, Vigna, Minerva, Balanzone, and Collection 2024. We hope you enjoy this episode as we discuss these stunning new additions to the Novelties line, available on-site now.
Note: The following transcription has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Editor's Note: While discussing the Vigna pipes, Kaz misspoke and named the 111. The straight Billiard he was describing is the 128.
[Andrew Wike]: Hi everybody, I'm Andy Wike, and welcome back to another episode of All Pipes Considered. I'm joined today by my good friend, Kaz Walters. It's been a while.
[Kaz Walters]: It's good to be back.
[AW]: Yeah, I think the last time that we did one of these was for 2023's releases from Savinelli.
[KW]: It's exciting to introduce 2024's releases.
[AW]: That's right, yeah, so we're here today to talk about Savinelli's new releases for 2024. These just hit the market. We saw some samples earlier in 2023, and I have to say, I think this year's bunch is probably one of my favorites.
[KW]: They keep getting better and better.
[AW]: There's several new series we want to talk about today, and I think all the themes that you would typically expect from Savinelli are definitely present. So, there's a lot of playfulness and innovation when it comes to color palettes and materials. I think also shape-wise, there's a lot to talk about this year.
[AW]: Let's start with the natural pipe for this year: the Fragola. So what does that mean, Kaz?
[KW]: That's the Italian word for strawberry. Every year, the natural, completely unstained, Virgin Briar pipes are built around a particular theme. Last year's was the Oliva, and it had a bark pattern applied to it with an olive green stem. Before that, it was the Granola, which was grain. This year, they went with the strawberry. So it's got a rustication carving to represent the external seeds of a strawberry, and, of course, a strawberry-hued stem with a little bit of green for the vinery and the foliage.
[AW]: Yeah, I think there's a very nice texture in the hand, and because it's a natural finish, it's going to patinate really nicely. That's a really compelling series this year. The red and green with the natural briar really pops, too.
[KW]: I thought the exact same thing when I saw them. Usually the rustications for these or the carving patterns for the natural finishes or the natural Novelty is more shallow. I mean, it's still very apparent, but when they gather that patina, they're all going to do it in a unique way with the briar and tobacco. It is more consistent all the way around, and with this type of carving, you have these deep recesses, which aren't going to patinate the same way, so I think it's going to grow in high relief. I'm really excited to see how these turn out within a year or so.
[AW]: Yeah, that's a really good point. It almost reminds me of a Lattice-work finish on a Meerschaum pipe.
[AW]: Okay, so moving on, we have the Vigna. So this one, I believe, is inspired by vineyards, right?
[KW]: Correct, and it's my personal favorite of this year's Savinelli releases. I bought one as soon as they came in.
[AW]: Did you really?
[KW]: Yes. I smoke it all the time because something about the palette of the stem really drew me in. I have a smooth one. It's the straight Billiard 128.
[AW]: Awesome. Color palette-wise, it's incredible. The actual stains on these are a really rich, bordeaux, dark red wine stain, and rusticated or smooth. The real appeal here, I think, is that stem. So, once again, we have Savinelli playing with proprietary custom acrylic sources. The acrylic itself is a really cool melange of reds, blues, a slate gray, and some pops of white. And it's very variegated and swirled; every single stem is unique.
And that's what I really love about Savinelli's acrylic; Every single piece that you find is going to have a slightly different pattern, a slightly different assortment of colors that are present, and a varied percentage of how much each color is present.
[KW]: I was about to say the two examples we have here, they're both Vignas, and apart from the difference of rusticated and smooth, obviously, the stems are the same material with the same colors, but because of the individual or unique aspect of how they're produced, you have very different patterns and colors that are more prominent in a certain sense. Sometimes you have striations of different widths; some have more of a fine marbling, and then, sometimes you have this more broad, undulating appearance to the colors.
It's really cool within the Novelties releases because we have the Fragolas that are going to color individually to each owner, but we also have something that's distinct with this stem material from pipe to pipe in the Vigna.
[AW]: Yeah, that's such a good point. I think that it's really interesting that you could have a lineup of 25 or 50 of the same exact pipe, but you're going to be able to choose your favorite based on grain patterns, the actual stem, and the way it looks as well. And as far as accents go, we just have a very thin band of brass on this one, and I think that is an elevated and elegant buffer in between the wilder patterns of the stem.
[KW]: It's understated in a sophisticated way. The warm bordeaux-type stain and the unique stems bring a lot of bold representation here in these pipes, so the accent doesn't need to be particularly flashy or overdone. Just enough to basically make the other elements pop. And I think Savinelli really knocked it out of the park, or the vineyard, with these.
[AW]: Moving on, we have the Minerva. Minerva is the goddess of artisans and wisdom. And so, I think it's particularly appropriate that they're doing an homage to that in these pipes. There's two different finishes. We have a natural, lightly-colored, blonde stain and then also a really tactile rustication.
[KW]: Yes. I really like the throwback to the old Roman pantheon of the Roman deities. And Minerva, if you're a fan of mythology like I am, is one of my favorites. So, when I heard that that was going to be the name of one of the Novelties, that was actually the one I looked for first just to see what they looked like. I really love the understated brown stem.
You mentioned the stains. It's a beautiful warm, natural-esque stain that really throws some grain into relief. I see quite a bit of birdseye. And it's really interesting how well that contrasts with the rusticated version where they both work for the concept, but you couldn't have anything more different between the smooth, natural coloring and then this really craggy, shale-type rustication.
[AW]: Yeah, on the rustication itself, I found it particularly interesting because it's a different style of rustication from some of the other types that we have here, like the Romas.
[KW]: The Vigna's pretty much in line with a lot of rustication you see from Savinelli.
[AW]: Minerva's rustication reminds me of the old Piazza di Spagnas, with a very crisp, tactile, high-relief rustication and a wire brush striation. It's really cool to see them playing with old finishes and bringing some of those elements back. And, like you said, the stain colors are quite different. There's a warm blonde stain on the smooth and then the rusticated one has an earthy, bark-like green-brown tinge to it. The stems here, as you mentioned, are really interesting also.
[KW]: They're really dark brown, almost like black coffee. Savinelli once again set off with working with accents here. We had a lot going on with the Vigna stains. And then, the more understated stems make it pop. Here, we have understated color palettes with the stain and stem, and a broad, bright, white metal that looks like shining armor. That's a good reference to how a lot of people think of the Romans and the Roman Empire. It's a great homage to the personality they built around Minerva. If you want something that's more traditional in a lot of ways, but a little different, a little more attention grabbing, but still not ostentatious, I think that this is definitely something that's going to appeal to people that are looking for something like that.
[AW]: Totally. The accent does the same thing visually that I think a military mount does. There's a nice, broad buffer of aluminum in between that understated stem color and the understated stain color. It helps elevate the entire series to something that would not be out of place at a more formal gathering. So, it definitely dresses up the pipe quite nicely.
[AW]: All right, and then we have one of the most playful versions of the Novelties that we've seen this year. So this is, once again, Savinelli's continuation of the Commedia dell'arte series. So this is basically an homage to the Dottor Balanzone. Can you tell us a little bit about that, Kaz?
[KW]: So, this concept started out with the Arlecchino, and that kicked it off. Every year, it's the same shape in two finishes, and then a stem material that represents the particular city or region. And we started out with the Arlecchino, went to Pulcinella, and then we went to Gianduia.
Well, the Balanzone is going to be in reference to Bologna. He was a lawyer. He had the title of doctor, and he was depicted as having what most people might consider akin to the Elizabethan ruffle collars and sleeves, or that's how he's depicted in the art. That is what the stem reference is an homage to, those collars and cuffs. And I would argue it's also the more understated of this concept that they've been building on because usually it has bright colors that attract the eye. I keep using this word, and I think that it's maybe the overarching theme with this year's Novelties, it's a more understated but still distinct design.
[AW]: Elegant, yeah. The black-and-white theme reflects the character of Balanzone. His attire is very duotone, black and white, so adding multiple colors there just wouldn't have made sense. I really like the scalloping on the actual stem pattern themselves, that's a really cool touch. And I think it's a really nice nod back to that ruffled collar.
The actual shape this year is also an homage to the Balanzone character. We have the 320 KS here, which is a very muscular, round, and palm-filling Author shape. And for those of you who are familiar with some of the characters in the commedia dell'arte, Balanzone is not a slender fellow by any means, so I think that's a nice reference to that as well.
[KW]: That totally fits, and it doesn't hurt matters also with this addition to the line that the 320 KS is perennially Savinelli's most popular shape.
[AW]: Yeah, it is. It is definitely one of the most iconic Savinelli shapes in existence and there's plenty of fans out there. I think if you've been a little hesitant to jump into this particular series in the past, maybe because the color palettes were a little wild for you, or you weren't super fond of the actual shape that they chose, I think this year is definitely going to be something that you'll want to collect because it's super unique and is a really cool homage to that particular character.
[KW]: For sure, and it's available, of course, in that blonde, smooth stain that brings out a lot of grain. I would argue probably even more so than the Minerva, and a black rustication that appears almost like grain. It's not what you see in a lot of Savinelli pipes, which is their standard trademark rustication found in the Romas or the Trevi Rusticated, and what you see on the Vigna or something more like a stone or bark-like rustication on the Minerva.
This is going to be very easily mistaken for a sandblast. There's really craggy, almost natural-appearing textures. That's what sets it apart with this rustication. And I think the black stain with it works really well with the white stem.
[AW]: The white stem and the black stain make it look like a tuxedo pipe, you know what I mean?
[AW]: So speaking of iconic Savinelli shapes, we're going to move to the final entry in the Novelties for this year. And that is the Collection 2024 pipe, which, in my opinion, is probably my favorite Collection pipe to date. So they've been doing this since the '80s. It's definitely a long-standing series.
[KW]: Yes, they've been doing it, like you said, since the '80s, so you're talking about over 30 years worth, almost 40, of doing a unique shape every year and a variety of finishes. This year, they have a Poker, which is also a very popular shape. Within the Savinelli shape chart, we were either talking about the 310 KS or the 311 KS. And this has elements of both, which is really cool. The bowl has that more even cylindrical aspect of the 311 KS, whereas the 310 KS has more of a domed rim. So this is a true cylindrical shape, but then you've got this longer shank that's more akin to the 310 KS. The stem isn't like either, which really sets it apart and makes it more unique.
[AW]: That's true. I think lengthwise it's a little bit in between the 310 KS and the 311 KS. The Collection pipes are particularly interesting because they don't correspond to a specific shape number in Savinelli's shape chart, but they tend to adopt elements from different designs, and so I think the 310 KS and the 311 KS are both insanely popular and iconic Savinelli shapes. I think the way that they sit at that angle is very dynamic. It has a lot of visual appeal. It's not just the standard Poker shape that you would think; it's very Italian.
[KW]: And very Savinelli, specifically. I love how they take elements of their existing shapes on their chart and meld them into this completely new thing that doesn't look like it's more than the sum of its parts. It's completely new and unique on its own as a concept. They keep doing it year after year and it's available in a number of finishes. Here we have the natural finish and the sandblasted with the natural rim, which is my personal favorite.
[AW]: I agree.
[KW]: I love seeing birdseye on a rim and then having that sandblasted flame and ring grain going on. It's sharp.
[AW]: Yeah. I think in particular on the sandblasted finishes this year, too, there's a little bit more contrast to the actual finish than in some years. You could see some of that flame come through in a warmer stain, but the whole thing's very subdued. And I do agree with you that the sandblasted with the smooth top is my personal favorite. I just love that contrast.
[KW]: They set each other off.
[AW]: Yeah, for sure. It's available in multiple different finishes. I think the shape's really cool this year. The stem is really interesting, it's similar to a saddle stem, but it's also pinched on the cross section as well, providing it with a twisting look, which is pretty cool. It's definitely one of the most compelling Collection shapes that I've seen in the last several years. I think the grain on these pipes is absolutely awesome.
[KW]: Oh yeah, definitely. The smooths have excellent grain. You're dealing with very beautiful stain colors. I mean, Savinelli always does that, but you're dealing with a rich bordeaux this year or these reddish-blonde or true natural stains, and usually there's more of a mixture with that sort of thing. We've seen a lot of dark browns in recent years, which are great; I love that traditional stain. But seeing stains that allow more grain to shine through is really exciting, and the rustication with unique textures sets them apart this year. I mean, I think that this is my favorite Novelty release in the past few years, to my taste.
[AW]: I think there's a lot of variety this year. There's so many opportunities that Savinelli took to showcase what they are good at in so many different ways, whether it's the proprietary stem colors, accents, or playing with stains and textures; It's a really great set.
Kaz, thank you once again for joining us, and we appreciate you taking some time out of your day to come over and talk to Smokingpipes about all the wonderful pipes Savinelli released this year. All of these are available on-site now, so I hope you guys check them out, and thanks again for watching.
[AW]: Catch you next year.