Studiopepe, a Graphic Duo

Studiopepe, a Graphic Duo

For Arianna Lelli Mami and Chiara Di Pinto, the ultra-creative duo behind the Studiopepe agency, it all began in 2006 at Milan’s most prestigious university, Politecnico de Milan. The heart of creativity that pulses through Italy, this city quickly proved to have much in store from these brilliant graduates. Ten years later their multi-dimensional vision, that arose from their studies in Interior and Industrial design, took flight. Offering stylist advice for magazines, scenographies, shop transformations and most recently decoration, Studiopepe proves one thing: its ability to get people talking. For The Visit, their latest project displayed at the Fuorisalone 2017, the designers requisitioned a Milanese apartment in the Brera district. A gigantic building project, with one initial request: to make the family furniture and objects synchronise with the existing rooms. Challenge accepted. Equipped with sharp eye for colour, Studiopepe conjured up a vision of elegance and warmth, a veritable ode to Italian spirit.  Replete with a mysterious aura, the rooms are awe-inspiring, finished with an innate forte for mixing luxurious materials (brass, marble, velvet), with rare and reissued creations (among which are Gio Ponti and even Angelo Mangiarotti). “More than a tale pertaining to the place, a gesture, a ritual, a visit” here are the origins of the exuberant Studiopepe project.

Discover Studiopepe’s transversal approach to design on their site.

Studiopepe, a Graphic Duo
Studiopepe, a Graphic Duo
Studiopepe, a Graphic Duo

Arianna, Chiara, how did you meet ?

Arianna & Chiara

We knew each other since university. After graduation we both went on vacation to Mexico, not together, and at a secluded beach on the Pacific coast, where there wasn’t really anything but the hammocks, so we met by chance! We did the rest of the trip together, and once back in Milan we decided to collaborate. After working together a few times we decided to open Studiopepe.

How do you divide your tasks? Who does what?

Arianna & Chiara

We have a strong creative direction. Being part of a duo it’s always like a dialogue where each of us adds a little piece in the creative process and the result is more like 1+1=3! Then, we translate our vision into different frames: set up, interior design, graphic, style consultancy on products… in the end we are storytellers, and when you tell a story you have to carefully consider every aspect, not only the plot! Anyway, our projects are developed by a team of professionals under the artistic direction of Chiara and come to life thanks to unexpected synergies based on observation, analysis and insight. In particular we pay tribute to Italian masters through a meticulous attention to research, starting with the study of unusual materials and archetypal forms. Every project is overseen by both of us, although sometimes one of us is more involved than another.  We have different backgrounds and interests: Arianna is passionate about photography, she collects trouvé photos and unexpected items, with which she creates surreal installations that constantly changes in her house and studio. Her work takes inspiration by art installations and architecture from the past. Chiara approach is multidisciplinary, with an academic training in the theory and practice of fine art, her work is distinctive in a strong hand-made approach and a fine passion for honest materials and colour palettes. Plus a team of professionals that involves architects, stylists, product designers, and a great turnover of ‘internshipers’ from around the world!

Where do you find inspiration?

Arianna & Chiara

We usually like working with classic shapes, creating variations on archetypal forms, those that have been in our culture since forever, using materials and colours to reinterpret a piece rather than coming up with unusual forms. It is really intriguing to work on objects that have always been part of the domestic landscape. Our design starts from a specific need, a study of proportions, a juxtaposition of geometric shapes and a declaration of love for materials and precious details. The result is a very simple, yet very refined design that could be from the Art Déco Era or even from the ’80s, but still looks contemporary. Some shapes survive throughout the eras because of their strength and simplicity and that is what makes them timeless.

Studiopepe, a Graphic Duo
Studiopepe, a Graphic Duo
Studiopepe, a Graphic Duo
Studiopepe, a Graphic Duo
Salle de bain The Visit Mur bleu et rouge Miroir Studiopepe Arianna Lelli Mami et Chiara Di Pinto
Salle de bain The Visit Mur bleu et rouge Miroir Studiopepe Arianna Lelli Mami et Chiara Di Pinto

Which colour are you into right now?

Arianna & Chiara

Colour is really important in all our projects. A lot of research goes into each colour choice. Usually we prefer half tones, an in-between like grey-green or a mastic colour against a stronger one. At the moment we love using the colour palette from our project The Visit, most of all the emerald green and ochre pink.

How would you define your decorative style?

Arianna & Chiara

Our approach is based on continuous research of colours and materials in relation to their shapes and the environment. We love to investigate the subjective and objective sensations and experiences linked to colours in order to create the best way to define the personality of each project. This study, a peculiarity of the Studio’s constant research, allows us to design the identity of a product and its physical perception.

For your Via Palermo project in Milan, how did you want to experiment with colour?  

Arianna & Chiara

The wall murals, that echo the ateliers of artists from the Mondrian and Bauhaus movement, become an ‘outer skin’ of sorts, a pulsating upholstery that makes up the fabric that permeates every setting. The furnishing elements, from the most important down to each individual object, coexist in a mutual dialogue with the colourful backgrounds that surround them. The rooms interconnect in a continuous play of chromatic and patterned echoes. As I said, we also took inspiration from Tremlett and Sottsass Wall drawings.

Which type of person do you design for?

Arianna & Chiara

This project strongly represents our style and our way of appreciating and living Design. So the perfect people to live in this sort of universe, is us !

Studiopepe, a Graphic Duo
Salon The Visit Rideau Imprimé Studiopepe Arianna Lelli Mami et Chiara Di Pinto
Salon Verre coloré The Visit Studiopepe Arianna Lelli Mami et Chiara Di Pinto
Studiopepe, a Graphic Duo
Studiopepe, a Graphic Duo
Studiopepe, a Graphic Duo

Where do you love working the most? And with which material?

Arianna & Chiara

We really like the connection between raw and sophisticated. Velvet with raw linen or lacquered with reclaimed wood. Like you see in fashion where creatives mix vintage with designers, Levi’s with Chanel. We love this approach. We like to work with artisans to have the right ‘patina’. Their skilful ways always solve a design problem. We also love to finish our interior projects with trouvé or ready-made objects. In our last interior we put a beautiful Cassina table with a group of vintage pharmacy glasses for example. Or, in an interior we were doing for Spotti we used reclaimed marble pieces to create the finishing touches. We love to layer without adding. It may seem like nonsense but we tend to eliminate and then add just a few select, eclectic layers. In product design, we feel differently from industrial design, there is already so much talent in the world. We design things that come from a desire and need for aesthetic. They are always useful but that’s not the point. They stay between decorative, sculpture and memory (but not old fashioned!). Touch is an important element in our project. The surfaces of materials are so important, tactile aspect in fabrics, wood, marble, wool concurs to create a story without words.

Your next project?

Arianna & Chiara

Hotellerie and a design collection for a client in fashion.

Where is Studiopepe heading? How many in your team at the moment?

Arianna & Chiara

Since traveling is so important to us, we feel that it would be very interesting to work on hospitality, to investigate what makes you feel at home. And so, after so many years to design, retail and private interiors, we would be glad to work on a hotel that feels like home. Apart from doing a hotel, we would ove to do a book to talk about our style, vision, inspirations… Currently, our studio has eight collaborators with different skills. For each new project, a team is selected depending on the peculiarity of the project so that it can explore it best and at various levels.

Studiopepe, a Graphic Duo
Studiopepe, a Graphic Duo
studio pepe table
Salon The Visit Studiopepe Arianna Lelli Mami et Chiara Di Pinto
Studiopepe, a Graphic Duo

Photography: Constance Gennari – Text: Caroline Balvay @thesocialitefamily

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