The business is based in Faè di Longarone, in the province of Beluno, Italy, and has been importing fine pieces of furniture since 1976.

His “Kandahar ” has set up a room in the Messner Museum in Brunico

From Cadore to the East, and back. That is how, for Andrea Gracis, his passion became a commercial enterprise, with his Kandahar based in Faè di Longarone, specialized in finding and trading fine pieces of Oriental furniture . “Those who buy one of my products”, he explains, “must realise they are taking home not only a decorative or furnishing item, but an article that has long-lasting artistic value”. Over the 40 years of importing from the East, we have sought out each individual piece of old and antique objects of daily use, the original furniture used by the peoples that my wife Marina and I used to visit”.

A passion that led him to donate to an entire room to Reihnold Messner’s new museum dedicated to the mountain peoples, opened on July 2 in Brunico . And it was Messner himself who recalled how “never, in any of the antique dealers in London Zurich or Paris, or in the capitals of Asia, have I found such quality as in the Kandahar warehouses”.

The company was founded in 1976 by ​​Andrea Gracis, his passion somewhat earlier. “At the beginning of the 70’s”, he recalls, “when the East was politically stable and peaceful and you could travel freely. The desire for the “journey “, the curiosity, the hippie movement, the Beatnik movement, reading Hermann Hesse’s or Jack Kerouac books, were his stimulus to leave”.

Born in Venice in 1949 from a Venetian father and Cadore mother (Venas di Cadore), married to Marina Vecellio, also from the Cadore region, Gracis choose to live in Tai di Cadore. And not just for family reasons, but because his love for the mountains is as deep as his love for the East. “Ours has always been a family business, with two or three employees at the most. Our customers range from the collector to the architect, the retailer of Eastern items to the traveler, the simple enthusiast. We do not propose commercial craft, or industrial-scale production, but each piece is different, with its own history, origin, characteristics. A concept that Messner appreciates. “My acquaintance with Messner goes back to a chance meeting we had in Pieve di Cadore in June 2002, when the Museum was inaugurated on Mount Rite. I mentioned the idea to open the last of his five museums in Brunico and dedicate it to the” mountain peoples”. He proposed my donating pieces from my collection. And thus he came to see me several times in Longarone, visiting the warehouse and deciding, in view of the quality of the articles collected during forty years of research in the East, to entrust the set up of an entire room to me”.

Gracis leaves Cadore periodically for long business trips: at least four or five a year. The countries he visited most frequently were India, Indonesia, Pakistan, China . “We initially imported small-sized objects and items of ethnic jewellery then, with the onset of cargo carriage in containers, we specialized in home furnishings . At first we bought from small shops and in some cases from homes; as the demand for these products grew, we began buying from large warehouses . Our choices, however, are always made personally by us, selecting every single item with care”.

Kandahar has thus contributed to furnishing homes belonging to prestigious names in the fashion, entertainment and political world, both in Italy and abroad. And now also the Messner museum. But how much is this valuable material worth in financial terms? “It’s hard to estimate” says Gracis, ” its true value lies in the rarity and uniqueness of each individual piece.”

by Stefano Vietina

(source: Corriere delle Alpi – 12 July 2011)

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