Home Magazine A day in Giovanna Ferrero Ventimiglia's studio, where she realizes and designs her Piccoli Smalti

Piccoli Smalti are unique pieces that will be part of the Salone del Mobile and the Venice Biennale 2024.

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Piccoli Smalti is Giovanna Ferrero Ventimiglia’s world, a Milanese designer who, following her grandfather’s path, has developed a unique form of art and design, colorful and suitable for any space. We had the opportunity to meet her in her studio in the center of Milan, a bright wooden space upstairs her house. Giovanna's studio is full of wonders and small objects, a place where she designs, draws, and studies her ideas, transforming them into Piccoli Smalti.

Kooness: How did your career as an artist begin?

Giovanna Ferrero Ventimiglia: My career as an artist began with oil painting, which I cultivated since my art high school years. In '93, I had my last exhibition, then I got married and stopped my career. I then had three kids, my diamonds. There was something inside me, I always had the desire to create, but it never seemed to be the right time. Four years ago, I felt that the moment had come and I started from my grandfather's works, Renato Morganti. This art form gave me my balance and peace. Piccoli Smalti are tactile bas-reliefs expressed in a unique format of 10cm x 10cm.

Piccoli Smalti. Courtesy of Giovanna Ferrero Ventimiglia


Kooness: How were Piccoli Smalti born?

GFV: Piccoli Smalti originated from my grandfather. I resumed his work and also kept the same name, he called them "I Piccoli Smalti". They are supporting objects welded onto bases of different materials, small sculptures. For me, the important thing was to create something unique, different. Each piece is numbered and each one is different from the other, there are no doubles, two lookalikes nor series. I play a lot with colors and geometric figures that give me a sense of stability, unlike painting, which was the framework of another time of my life. At that time, I needed to experiment, express myself on very large canvases. I painted using my hands. Now, precision reigns in my life, and, for this reason, geometry is the perfect reflection of me. My works reflect the moment I am living and change accordingly, writing the story of my life. You grow and change, and right now this is what I am.


Piccoli Smalti. Courtesy of Giovanna Ferrero Ventimiglia

Kooness: What is the cloisonné technique you use?

GFV: I use cloisonné, which is a very ancient technique also used by my grandfather. It is a decoration technique that has remained almost unchanged over the centuries in which thin wires (filigree) or metal strips create cells (cloisons in French) into which the enamel is poured. The origins of cloisonné are very ancient: already known in ancient Egypt, it developed through different civilizations, reaching its peak in Byzantium in the 12th century and finding extensive use in France and Italy. It was used for hundreds of years in the creation of jewelry and decorative arts. My goal is to create contemporary and constantly evolving works.

Kooness: Colour seems to be very important in your designs, what role does color play and what materials do you use?

GFV: Piccoli Smalti are characterized by bright and vivid colors. Colors are very important. The enamels I use have transparencies that give a lot of depth to my work and make it unique, every light gives it a different aspect. I used bright colors, but lately, I use simpler primary colours. The colour shade can always vary depending on the firing or depending on how much color is poured. The enamels are fused onto brass, silver, or bronze tiles. Then, the tiles are assembled on marble, stone, leather, wood, bronze, or parchment supports. I work with a team of Italian artisans who help me create each piece by hand. Each Piccolo Smalto tells a different story, represents a unique artistic vision, and also celebrates femininity through its forms. Each piece is numbered.


Piccoli Smalti. Courtesy of Giovanna Ferrero Ventimiglia

Kooness: Do you think artist and interior designer are two figures that can go hand in hand? How do you imagine your works within a living space?

GFV: Certainly, they go hand in hand, it's about the taste for beauty. In the end, even as an interior designer, you sometimes have to design pieces for the house, pieces that you imagine and want to create. I think Piccoli Smalti are pieces that can fit anywhere. They are versatile, small in size, unlike large works for which it is more difficult to find the perfect place. They are small jewels that you don't wear, but your house wears. The eye has to get used to them, they are easy pieces aimed at both women and men.

Piccoli Smalti. Courtesy of Giovanna Ferrero Ventimiglia

Kooness: Will you participate in the Salone del Mobile and the Venice Biennale?

GFV: This year, I have worked on a number of projects which I will present during the Salone and during the Biennale. I have designed lamps with small enamels on the base, or with horns as "pedestals". Both models will be exhibited during the Salone del Mobile by GLAB in via Giannone 4 and by Orienthera in the 5 Vie, Milan. In addition, during the Venice Biennale, I will present bronze breasts, made using the ground fusion technique. They will be exhibited at Palazzo Franchetti, part of the exhibition curated by Carolina Pasti "Breasts".

"Breasts" will showcase the works of over thirty emerging and established artists from around the world, spanning the fields of painting, sculpture, photography, and cinema from the 1500s to the present day. The works on display explore how the breast has been understood and represented in art across different cultures and traditions. Reflecting on a range of themes from motherhood to empowerment, from sexuality to body image and illness, the presentation investigates how the breast acts as a catalyst for discussing socio-political realities, challenging historical traditions, and expressing personal and collective identities. The mission is to raise awareness about breast cancer to a wider audience through the channel of art.

Witten by Kooness in Collaboration with Giovanna Ferrero Ventimiglia

Cover Image: Giovanna Ferrero Ventimiglia. Courtesy of Giovanna Ferrero Ventimiglia