When visiting Paolo Venini’s daughter, Laura de Santillana, in the 1990s, Sarpaneva noticed a beautifully made glass piece on a side table. He asked her who had made it. Ms. Santillana said that it had been made by a great maestro from Murano who is extraordinarily talented, but extremely difficult and headstrong. “It’s almost impossible to get along with him, but he has golden hands.” Sarpaneva decided right then and there to find this Signoretto. He had already been planning to get into free-form glasswork and now he had found the right maestro.
His collaboration with Pino Signoretto was seamless. The men understood and appreciated one another. During the work week, Sarpaneva lived in Venice in a modest hotel, which was located in the sestieri of Cannaregio, just a short distance by vaporetto to Murano. Work at the hot shop started at eight in the morning. When Sarpaneva arrived, the glass blanks were ready and he began to work on pieces according to the plans made the day before.
Their collaboration, which lasted for years, was fruitful and inspiring. Sarpaneva presented new challenges, which Signoretto and his chair then produced, sometimes after a giving them a few moments of consideration. The Millennium Meum glass sculpture collection was on exhibit in the foyer of the Finnish National Opera at the turn of the millennium, 1999–2000. The exhibition was opened by Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari. Maestro Signoretto and his assistants were in attendance as guests of honour.
In April 2000, Sarpaneva returned to Murano for the last time. His decades of practice and technical virtuosity are crystallised in the simple forms of his swansong collection, Ammiana. Together, Sarpaneva and Signoretto pushed the glassworking envelope, paving the way for future glassworkers.