Walking in the studio of jewellery designer Cristina Grazioli is a bit like jumping inside’s Narnia wardrobe. The place has a Mediterranean feel to it, and you will never guess it is located in the unassuming neighbourhood of Battistini - the last stop of Rome’s Metro A.
“Many people coming here say it feels like being on a boat” she admits sitting with her red cat Leone purring at her leg, while we are sipping Jasmine tea.
In her house Cristina like to host friends of all stripes, as she is a big believer in sharing, whether food, ideas or a simple chat. More than once, artistic collaborations came out of it.
While the big bulk of her production are jewels, her work crosses the boundaries between art and craft. She is a very hand-on person, personally taking care of all the aspects of the creative process from the original design to the realisation. It is indeed in the making though that the most fulfilling part for Cristina happens.
“My travels, a stone, a recycled material, corals found on the beach, all these things can be an inspiration. She let chance being an integral part of her process. A particular stone for example can determine the shape that the final jewel will have, making it unique. “I only do unique pieces. In my collection Onde, for example, the first one I started working on with glasses, every single piece is different. Because of the different shapes of the glasses and the artisanal way I work on it, no two pieces will be alike.”
A storytelling aspect is pivotal: “In many of my creations the objects already have a story. Then I work on the pieces with the story I imagine for them. At the end of this process, the person who is going to wear the piece will also integrate it in their life, making it part of their own story”
Both in her home and creations, she has inherited the philosophy of William Morris, who insisted that you should possess nothing that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. “I want to realize useful object that are an expression of beauty but they can also be useful in everyday life.”
Born in Milan, Cristina is self-taught: “I did technical studies because coming from a practical family, I was forbidden study art. My apprenticeship took place in a stained glass studio first in Milan, than in Rome.”
Coloured glasses have been her favourite material ever since. “Glass has a mysterious charm for me, it changes with the passage of the life, and is influencing what’s around it”
Since she was a child Cristina has been obsessed with recreating beauty around her, whether in her personal style or environment. “As a little girl I’d go to the river next to my grandmother’s hotel in the mountains, and I’d built dams and arrange stones and flowers to create what today I’d call Japanese garden. I was a mania for me”
In an eastern fashion, Cristina deems nature to be the greatest artist. “In nature you can have the full spectrum, from the sheer beauty and power of a sudden storm, to the daintiness of the petals of the rose or even marine microorganisms”
Her passion for beauty and the natural world has continued to the day jobs that she has taken in the emerging phase of her career, as a florist and as a sailor. By letting her eyes and soul get accustomed to islands, waves, rocks, shells and volcanoes, these have became her inner landscape.
“As a sailor, I was entrenched by the water which was moving alongside the hull, creating instant and ephemeral sculptures. The captain of the boat was always wondering that is the world was keeping me three full hours on the bow!”
These memories and observations have stayed with her long after that. They have been digested and translated into work in the fluidity of forms and movements.
Cristina’s interest for the environment is also to find in her projects with recycled materials, like pvc, collaborating with local cooperatives. She has a collections of bags, bicycle wheels, and jewels made of air chambers from camion wheels. “This is an extremely resistant material. I wanted to be readable what the object was before.”
Posidonia collection was thought as a jewellery line that you could bathe with. “It was done in hammered steel, fishing rope, pvc and air chamber.
Her routine is fuelled by the passion she has for her work. She wakes up early in the morning and after having watered the plants on her big terrace she goes at her workshop. “The morning is rich of ideas and potential. Then of course, if I’m working on a piece I’m particularly passionate about I don’t stop until it’s finished.”
She explain that for biggest works, such as panels decorated with glasses, she gets in a state of flow where she doesn’t feel the need to get out of the house for days.
Her new collection Immersioni will be soon present in Milan at Spazio Now, Furisalone di Vita Tortona for the Salone del Mobile. “For the Immersioni collection I created a line of accessories inspired by the underwater world. I tried to reproduce living forms by using electric wires, which movement reminded me to the jellyfish. They are very light and they are composed by unconventional stones. Crystals evoke depths, crystallized agates evoke abysses, red agates evoke volcanoes.”
In summer she plans to exhibit, like every year, at the Hotel Raya in Panarea. “This is one of the most beautiful island of Mediterranean, right in front of the island of Stromboli. Having a volcano is front that erupts every night is one of the most beautiful and suggestive spectacle of nature.”
After that, she will take inspiration as it goes. “But one thing for sure, I’m always interested to improving and learning. It’s so exciting to know there is a whole world to learn!”
Location_: Atelier Cristina Grazioli, Roma
Ph_: Naima Amarilli
Txt_: Naima Amarilli
Styling_: Cristina Grazioli
Model_: Cristina Grazioli