Steeling the show

Paolo Cividino

Paolo Cividino makes cool stuff out of steel.

Paolo Cividino makes cool stuff out of steel.

Photo By Cherie Louise Turner

Perched on Sierra and First streets downtown in the Palladio Plaza stands an elegant new steel sculpture. The look is contemporary, a sleek boxy shape. The sides of the gray sheen steel sheets are randomly perforated, so that light subtly glows through when the sun drops below the horizon line.

What most likely don’t know is that this piece is serving double-time in its duties to increase the aesthetics of our downtown. It is both public art and shield of unsightliness: Inside is an enormous gas manifold. If not for this piece, the view would feature a chain-link fence around the manifold, right in the heart of downtown; this was the original plan. What else may not be widely spread knowledge is that this work was created by local steel fabricator Tutto Ferro (with design consultation from Reno-raised Gordon Magnin of Magnin Design in Southern California).

“We wanted to create something that had a contemporary aesthetic that would challenge the local public. This sculpture is not as simple as it first appears,” says Tutto Ferro founder/owner Paolo Cividino, who, along with Kevin Moore, comprises the company. “We wanted to contribute to the modernization of Reno. I felt a real responsibility to the community.”

The design was inspired both by features of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, as well as Reno’s identity as a 24-hour town. Thus the lighting-up aspect of the piece; it’s active day and night.

Cividino has been contributing to the contemporary aesthetic of Northern Nevada and beyond for over a decade, both in residential and commercial venues. Tutto Ferro’s steel work can be seen in Sezmu, Bibo Coffee Company, LuLou’s, Chocolate Bar and Stremmel Gallery, among other locations. The company has also created work for clients in Seattle, Venice Beach and the Bay Area.

Cividino, who is originally from Italy, came to Reno in 1989 by way of the Bay Area. His family emigrated from overseas to Walnut Creek in 1974. He formed Tutto Ferro in 1998. He found his calling while working on a renovation project for former employer John Jesse, co-founder of the Pneumatic Diner.

“We did everything, including the welding,” recalls Cividino about Jesse’s project. “I freaked out over it [welding steel]. I knew what I needed to be doing.”

Cividino purchased a welder and set to honing his steel-fabricating skills. Within three years, Tutto Ferro was formed.

“Most people see steel as cold and industrial,” he says. “I think it’s gorgeous. I love the unyielding nature of the material, the weight. No two pieces are alike.”

Cividino and Moore are able to tease out the gorgeous from lackluster, hard, cold steel. Their designs—most often custom—are contemporary, featuring clean lines and painstakingly smooth welds. Oftentimes, the steel is used in combination with other materials, such as wood or glass, which adds texture and visual complexity. Throughout, the craftsmanship is of the highest quality. As testament to the beauty of the company’s creations, projects have been featured in the pages of Architectural Digest, Dwell and in the Chicago Tribune.

Though best known for creating interior architectural elements, such as countertops, bars and the like, Cividino/Tutto Ferro has designed and fabricated, among other pieces, furniture, candleholders, front doors and now sculpture.

Going forward, Cividino has an interest in creating more of these stand-alone pieces, including additional public works of art.