For Roberto Risso, custom frame building is an art form.
"I still apply many painting and working techniques used by [the artist] Michelangelo," he says.
Roberto learned the art of custom frame building from his father at Risso Cornici, their family shop in Chiavari, a small town in northwest Italy. Traditionally, the techniques behind artisanal art forms like frame making were secretive and not readily accessible to customers. But with the help of technologies like WhatsApp Business, Roberto is trying to make this process more visible.
In a world where automation and mass production have made goods and services cheaper, Roberto wants to attract and retain customers by giving them a glimpse into his artisanal frame-building process. So Roberto uses status updates on WhatsApp Business to make and disseminate videos of himself handling ancient materials with white cotton gloves and special tools, making natural-pigment-based glues, and creating precise mixtures of gold and plaster to paint the frames his clients order.
Roberto views WhatsApp Business as a valuable tool in communicating with clients, especially the quick replies feature which he uses to respond to customer queries. Every week, Roberto communicates with at least 30 of his customers exclusively on WhatsApp Business and by doing so, he says he has seen a five to ten percent increase in business.
Messaging via WhatsApp has helped customers like artist Martin Charlemont who says, "We use WhatsApp to initially exchange ideas for the best frame to use for my piece of art and, once decided, we use it to keep me informed of the whole frame-making process."
Guendalina Dallorso, another of Roberto's clients, says WhatsApp has made the buying process with Risso Cornici easier. "[It] allows me to see the ample selection of frames and make a choice without having to go to the store — it’s so easy to use."
As Roberto watches his children play and study in his workshop, it is evident that WhatsApp Business is helping him keep an art form alive in the hope that he too can pass the ancient tradition onto his own children.