Eat-and-Run: a project by Michela Bortolozzi
today I am introducing you to Venetian designer Michela Bortolozzi, and we are visiting her in her studio in Cannaregio, located close to the church of Madonna dell' Orto, in a hidden industrial building overlooking the north lagoon.
I met Michela about a year ago. I contacted her because I had fallen in love with her creations, purely aesthetically, then she told me about the Eat-and-Run project... at which point, I was literally captured! Anyway, first things first, so let's start from the beginning.
Michela was born in Venice in 1986 and after graduating at IUAV university, she attended a Master's Degree in Design for Sustainable Local Development in Marrakech. She has always loved traveling and believes that cultural exchange enriches us, thus tourism as an industry should contribute to the improvement of local cultures. In fact, Eat-and-Run is a combination of projects that refer to the current touristic model and move from the concept of souvenirs as objects we bring home to remember a special place and emotion.
Unfortunately though, in cities like Venice, mass tourism has transformed the social tissue and most of the souvenir shops sell cheap objects made in far away factories, so depriving souvenirs of their original meaning and impoverishing both the local culture and the exchange implied in the act of traveling. Eat-and-Run wants to raise awareness on the materials and the traditions of objects that carry a millenary history, and its key project is ENJOY, based on the creation of craft objects that, by circulating the world, convey messages that will be received and interpreted in unexpected ways, triggering so a virtuous cycle that wishes to stimulate curiosity and bring the attention back to places we sometimes take for granted.
The collection includes candles, earrings, brooches, and... lollipops! Yes, everything started from there: the lollipops. On the occasion of an artisan market, Michela decided to create lollipops that recall the columns of Palazzo Ducale and Ca' d' Oro. The choice of the material was due to its transparency, because it is clear like glass. In fact, people approaching to buy initially thought they were Murano glass, at which point she explained the idea behind the project and asked if they had though what they were going to do with the souvenir: eat it, thus consume it until nothing was left, bring it home and keep it as a memory, or leave it to the city. A fun way to raise awareness on the way we consume and the consequences of our choices.
The lollipops met an unexpected success, so Michela decided to enlarge her production and work on a wider range of objects, all handmade with sustainable materials. For example, for the candles she created the moulds herself and as base she uses pieces of wood given to her by Pietro Dri, or better, Il Forcolaio Matto, another interesting artisan you should keep an eye on. The candles come in different sizes, colours, and designs, from the above mentioned columns to gondolas, Palazzos, the Rialto Bridge, masks, and our lion. The earrings too are in recyclable materials, and very light to wear. Whereas the brooches are made with pieces of glass that Michela picks up during her walks along the 'beaches' in Murano, and then fuses again.
ENJOY also includes a part inspired by Morocco, her second home, so I suggest to have a look at her website and follow her on Instagram to learn more about her work. In Venice, Michela was recently selected among the 12 Venetian designers for the Viva Venezia - Venezia è Viva initiative promoted by Il Fondaco dei Tedeschi, and her candles had a window all for themselves, at only a few metres from Rialto Bridge and the Grand Canal. The window display was beautiful, as her candles had a background in blue tones with Venetian palaces under water, and the effect was gorgeous, as if the waves were moving and the candles floating. Now and throughout Christmas the candles are sold inside, so if you happen to pass by consider stopping.
Michela has many talents, and an understatedly bubbly personality. She is engaged in several projects, although right now the candles take most of her time and attention. When she's not working she likes to go climbing and has a camper van somewhere in the mountains where she escapes most summer weekends. I loved her studio too: she has a small room in a shared space filled with antique objects I so wish I could possess; before arriving, there is a small garden, and two short train tracks that lead to the water, used once to transport heavy material to the boats out for delivery. A part of Venice I would have never seen if it weren't for her, and I am so grateful.
I hope you enjoyed meeting Michela as much as I did, and will support her Eat-and-Run project. Feel free to contact her directly for any information, meanwhile take care and talk soon!