INTERVIEW WITH GIULIA COSENZA:
I am an Italian designer and ceramist, originally from Milan and currently living in Rotterdam. My work ranges from pottery made on the wheel to handbuilt pieces, from small everyday objects to iconic pieces that mix functionality and artistic expression. I like to create elements that can have a discreet but also sculptural presence in the home environment.
What is the origin of your passion?
My passion comes from an education in beauty as a way of thinking. I have always been fascinated by the way in which design is able to translate creativity into an object and make abstract concepts not only visible but also tactile. This is probably why I initially approached ceramics: I had a strong need to give shape to my thoughts and materialize my ideas.
What is your mission?
My mission is to emphasize the material in its natural expression, but also by trying to explore and expand its boundaries without preconceptions. At the same time, I want to position my work between art and craftsmanship. As a woman I know how the aspect of doing, often associated with the predominantly male figure of the craftsman, is sometimes overlooked. I believe instead that making is an essential part of working with ceramics and certainly of my artistic research.
When you work on a project, where do you start from?
From the material: I really like researching local stoneware and being inspired by the colors and textures of a specific place. A few years ago I had the opportunity to stay and create some pieces in three different regions of Japan, where I was taught attention to the context and the beauty of being able to incorporate the surrounding landscape thanks to the use of local materials.
How would you define the style of your creations?
Simple, sculptural, often linked to the exploration of forms and the enhancement of “natural” material.
What inspires you?
In general, the material itself and the infinite possibilities that a sticky and humid piece of earth can offer to create pieces with defined, elegant and refined lines. Architecture is also an enormous source of inspiration for me: simple and clean shapes, enhanced by their interaction with light and shadow, play an important role in my work.
Is there, or has there been, someone or something that has influenced your work?
My university education was linked to architecture and design. A figure that I have always highly esteemed is Lina Bo Bardi. Her work has always been a source of inspiration for me for her dramatic concreteness, a work based on materials, often poor, which bend to formal and functional needs with beauty and originality.
What are the personal qualities a designer should have?
Imagination, awareness and perseverance. Especially when working with a material such as ceramic, patience and the idea of working slowly are essential. I believe that for a designer the main quality is awareness: creating works in a mindful way not only generates aesthetically interesting results but also ethical and sustainable ones.
What is your favorite project to date and why?
One of my favorite projects is a series of vases that I made for myself, as a self initiated project in 2019, inspired by a location I had the pleasure of visiting some time ago, the Muralla Roja designed by architect Ricardo Bofill. The architectural complex is characterized by simple but playful geometric shapes and strong colors that give it an iconic appearance and “paint” everything around them. I therefore decided to work with neutral colored ceramics and porcelain, so that the pieces could incorporate sculptural details and reflect the surrounding colors. In a play of light and shadow, the vases become like a liquid presence, constantly evolving according to the movement of the sun and the colors of the surrounding environment. The curved and soft lines of the vases, a tribute to the female body and in stark contrast to the straight and angular features of the building, generate a joyful tension of shapes. From this first experiment was born the recent collection currently on sale on Monomio.it, where I explore similar silhouettes but revisited with My Heroines, a small series of exclusive vases made in a limited edition. Each vase is unique and named after a woman who inspires and motivates me in life.
How does your creative process take shape?
It starts from the material and lets itself be drawn by the hands into the shapes. I work very intuitively and often without a too predefined plan.
What are you working on at the moment?
For some time now I have been working less on the lathe and more on hand-built pieces formed entirely by hand with the help of very few tools. Some time ago I participated in a workshop residency in the Rif Mountains of Morocco (thanks to the Ard Artisans association), learning the ancestral processing techniques that the women of this area have been practicing since time immemorial. I like to investigate this idea of “removing”, work with the bare minimum and create by relying as much as possible on your tools, your hands.
In which direction do you see the world of design going?
I hope more and more in the direction of awareness. I believe it is important to never stop experimenting with new ways of creating, which are sustainable from an environmental and human point of view.