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Constance, Cristina: tell us about “Paris-Milano”, the exclusive capsule collection uniting your work.
The Paris-Milano capsule is made up of Home Accessories inspired by Italy and France, from my trips to Paris, Constance’s Italian roots, Italian craftsmanship and the idea of a home shared by the two of us. The idea for this design came from transforming classic details from French and Italian architecture into simple yet elegant useful objects, playing with texture, colour and opaque finishes.
Paris-Milano is a multi-faceted collection blending the identities of two countries. A story told through the unique nature of pattern, material and shape. The idea was for designer Cristina Celestino and I to bring our two worlds together. An ultra-feminine sensitivity when it comes to design.
You have known each other for several years now. What made you decide to work together?
Collaborations and meetings with a wide range of personalities is typical of my work. In Constance’s case, I’ve always admired her cross-functional creativity and the idea that she had at the time on social trends and families was way ahead of the curve. She successfully transmitted this into designs with The Socialite Family brand using beautiful, elegant lines.
Cristina and I are of the same generation but our paths are very different. The thing that brings us together, above all, is our passion for objects, shapes and Italian design from 1940 to 1950. I’ve also been following Cristina’s work for years and her first glass creations astounded me. Little by little we became closer. We also created our companies at almost the same moment and found ourselves together every year at the Milan Furniture show. We’ve been wanting and planning to work together for a long time. The Socialite Family vibe goes well with her highly stylised art deco world.
In what ways are the stylistic influences of The Socialite Family and Cristina Celestino represented in Paris-Milano?
I don’t like speaking of style, labelling it is like putting it in a cage and I prefer not to define my prjects with a ‘type’. I can acknowledge the composing narrative of this project which is like a thread running through my work. Searching for references with freedom of space and time generates products that seem rooted in our joint imagination but are contemporary in their attitude and shape.
The inspirations are first and foremost architectural and also very urban. You’ll find the Italian architecture of ancient columns on one side and the Parisian facades of Haussmann buildings on the other. Cristina is the artistic director of the ceramic company Fornace Brioni, so she wanted to use their artwork to illustrate her collection. You’ll find it on a storage box, vase and a large planter, all three available in three colours and an ultra-modern matt finish. Selecting the shapes and the tones for the collection was a joint effort.
Cristina, why did you focus particularly on “day-to-day” items for this collaboration?
I focused on developing compact pieces which could become part of our daily lives, enriching life at home. These items are unique but essential. With their pared-down size, they can be used in different ways and so integrated into the greatest range of interiors! The largest model is a planter on wheels. I noticed that we are increasingly bringing greenery into our homes and I wanted to offer an alternative to the classic planter, to make it more than a simple container!
Where did you get your inspiration from?
My design always comes from research into my passions: architecture, design history, nature (as a palette of colours and textures), jewellery (functioning with a high level of aestheticism), fashion (for researching colours and attitude). For this collection, the ceramic pieces have a micro-texture made from little holes and these are the result of my work with Fornace Brioni (who also took care of manufacturing the ceramic items). In particular, the Ninfeo wall tile which becomes the three-dimensional pattern of the planter; this tile is then turned into a box with a lid, which then led to the opportunity for creating a large vase. This surface pattern made of even micro-perforations comes from classicism in the Italian Renaissance and then transports us to Paris with its exterior coating in dressed stone from the Louvre and other buildings representative of the French capital. I’ve also used a treated wood towel-hanger as a mirror detail with simple, clean lines.
The architecture, the dual nationalities. And above all the idea the design pieces that we both need and want to look at in our homes.
Ceramic is the main medium of expression used to bring these references to life. What made you chose this material?
I know this material really well as I’ve been working as the artistic director for Fornace Brioni since late 2016! It’s a historic Italian family company, directed today by two brothers from the 4th generation and is renowned for its skill and handcrafted ceramic tiles, namely Cotto. More generally, ceramic is a magical material, extremely complex to work, subject to shrinkage but easy to shape. Even the firing process is intriguing, almost like alchemy: the addition of fire makes the blend of earth and water into a day-to-day item that’s strong and long-lasting.
Paris-Milano is a multi-faceted collection blending the identities of two countries. A story told through the unique nature of pattern, material and shape.
You also worked with a soft, almost pastel, matte palette of colours; can you tell us more about this choice?
There is no good or bad colour nor a finish that works better than any other. For this collection, it felt interesting to use pastel tones but not the most obvious ones! A pale sandy yellow, powder blue and sage green with a matte finish. These items are ultra-elegant and classic and combining them with matte pastel tones conveys a surprising element!
If you had to define Paris-Milano in one sentence, what would it be?
A journey across the roots of two countries to bring out the best and produce strong emotions.
Where can we find this exclusive collection, and until when?
Photography: Constance Gennari – Text: Caroline Balvay @thesocialitefamily