Because I took after my mother, I have decided to surround myself exclusively with nice and positive people and when I met Raffaella, it was love at first sight. Venetian, kind and smiley, it was my husband who introduce her to me and, by the way, everything happened in my favourite restaurant, Fiumefreddo Bio. While her son was listening to Vito (they are two big supporters of Inter and apparently had a lot to talk about...), Raffa and I started chatting about food, life in the lagoon and so on and, in the end, I gave her my website address and she showed me what she does, although -elegant as she is- she did it in a very understated way. Of course, I was eager to learn more...
We met again a couple of times by chance until we arranged a proper appointment so that I could see how she works. Raffaella is very refined, therefore she did not highlight all of her qualities, but I just want to add that in addition to working as a designer, she also teaches textile technologies at IED (European Institute of Design) and some of her creations have been selected among the items sold at the bookshop of Ca' Pesaro, the Museum of Modern Art located in San Stae.
Anyway, she invited me to her house -and studio- in Cannaregio and we spent a wonderful afternoon together! She lives with her son in a bright top floor with a small terrace from which you can see the roofs of Venice (so so so amazing!). The house is smallish, but very luminous and full of books, magazines, arty objects and plants. In short, it exudes positivity! I was put immediately at ease as she offered me drinks and lots of hazelnuts to snack on, then we started talking about her activity. As you will see in the pictures, I only photographed some of her designs (she had delivered the others to her retailers), thus I invite you to have a look at her Instagram page and her website to see more (especially the necklaces!!!).
I was curious to know more about Venice during her university years and -because I work as a creative too- about the difficulties and/or privileges of carrying out this sort of activity here, so I'll report our conversation in the form of an interview!
You were born and brought up in Venice, could you please tell me more about the years at IUAV?
'At the beginning of the 90s living in Venice was just great. There was 1/3 more of resident population and a significant number of students from other parts of the country and the world, besides there were many more 'normal' neighbourhood shops and a vibrant daily and night life. A very diverse city from the one we live in today, from many points of view, especially with regard to touristic pressure...
When and how did you get involved with design?
My passion for design flourished during my years at university, when I was attending a History of Design class that opened a whole new world to me. Eventually, for a research project, I became very familiar with the Italian design and architecture journals of the 1950-70s like Domus, Abitare and Interni and realised how much my compatriots had been ahead of their time and revolutionary in this field.
Is it difficult to work as a designer in a reality Venice?
I have to say that I have never encountered particular difficulties, as I follow each step of the creative process, from the design to the physical creation of my pieces. Besides, thanks to the internet, I can easily buy materials and fabrics from all over the world and sell my jewellery anywhere. I actually find amazing the fact that my objects, from my little Venetian studio, can reach any part of the globe!
Does the lagoon inspire your creations?
Yes, definitely. Just look around yourself, wherever you set your eyes you see beauty: the facades of the palaces, their decorations, all the architectural elements, the games between light and shade and between solids and voids, everything is inspirational, even the pavements are rich in textures, motifs and patterns! I am particularly fascinated by the intricate network of stitches so typical of our Burano lace, not to mention certain architectural elements in Istrian stone of some late gothic architectures such as Ca' d' Oro,Ca' Foscari and Palazzo Ducale.
Where can I buy your jewellery in Venice?
- At the clothing and design store Altrove. I am somewhere Else. I started collaborating with them many years ago, as there seems to be a perfect harmony between the outfits designed by Alessandra Milan and my jewellery, in fact for her brand I also realise exclusive pieces to match her clothes. The atelier is open by appointment and is located in a stunning Venetian interior.
- You can also find some of my pieces at the shop Bragorà in the heart of Castello, a wide and luminous space that gathers the creations of artists and designers who self-produce using recycled materials.
- My designs have also been selected by our museums bookshops, therefore you can find some pieces at the Museum of Modern Art Cà Pesaro.
- Another curious and truly lovely space that hosts my collection is The_Sign Venice, small yet incredibly sought-after, only two minutes from the Fenice Opera House.
Are you available for custom orders? Of course! I am always enthusiastic about new projects and really enjoy creating customised pieces for my clients. Making something that not only is unique, but also thought for a specific person gives me great joy.
I noticed that you still haven't opened an online shop, how can people buy your designs from far away? You are right, I still haven't had the time to open an online shop but I am planning to do so very soon! For now, clients can contact me dropping me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or through my Skype account raffaella.brunzin . I am very responsive and usually reply within 24 maximum 48 hours.
At that point I stopped asking Raffaella questions and just admired her working at the sewing machine. In a way, I understood that there is a lot more to her work than what she describes... I could see her references and enjoyed watching her adding the finishing touches to her minimalist pins. Hers is a world of colours, books, patterns and fabrics and her passion exudes from her energy and from the way her eyes shine whenever she starts playing with needle and thread.
Don't forget to have a look at her website and to follow her on Instagram. Oh... and yes, I highly suggest to visit the above mentioned shops when in Venice. They are unique and will introduce you to a whole new world of local and designers!