When and how was the Rizma project born?
In its embryonic form in 2013. I had just graduated in architecture, I wanted to experiment with drawing and I loved paper. Thus was born the first series of geometric patterns: the hexagon became its principle. This allowed me to generate infinite combinations that gave rise to interesting motifs which in turn became the cover of handmade notebooks. In 2014 then I moved to Australia where I worked as an architect and the project was inevitably put aside. In Melbourne, however, I had the opportunity to get in touch with the world of independent crafts. There I gained the awareness of wanting to dedicate myself entirely to my project. I left a safe job of endless hours spent in front of the computer for a new path in which my personality came out into the open and time took on another value. On my return to Italy, a phase of experimentation and research began and what it was next came in a completely natural way. Printing on fabric, botanical patterns and in 2016 the shared studio INSULA where my works finally has find a home.
What does Rizma mean?
Rizma is an invented word. Working with paper, it was inevitable to think about the ream. At the same time I was fascinated by the concept of “rhizome” or the fantastic way in which nature allows some types of plants to adapt and survive particularly difficult conditions. Merging the two words Rizma was born.
What do you draw inspiration from?
Mainly from the natural world. I look for my references in old botany books or simply by taking long walks in the countryside. Dwell on a plant, observe it, make the first sketch, the instinctive drawing, interpret it, redesign it: these are just some of the steps. Other times it is the forms of the city that suggest themes to investigate: the clear shadow of a balcony, the textures and colors of a wall, the detail of a pavement. In general, everything around me can inspire me, be it urban references or simply a moment immersed in nature.
Your work requires evolution, continuous research …
Yes, absolutely. When you work in the creative field you have to devote a large portion of your time to research and experimentation. In this way the project is enriched, changes and reinvents itself continuously and you inevitably with it. And then when I see that the fruit of my reflections has a positive response on people, I realize that the direction is the right one and this gives me an incredible adrenaline.
What kind of materials do you use?
When I start designing a motif, I always start with freehand drawing. Through a playful approach I develop my ideas, I train myself with shapes and chromatic combinations, drawing with tempera and watercolors, making collages, experimenting. Sometimes I go instinctively, other times I follow strict rules. I carve the first stamps using an engraving rubber on which I reproduce the drawing and then I do tests on paper to check the composition. The interesting thing is that with a stamp you can create many different patterns. When I am sure I have found the right harmony I move on to the final print on fabric: cotton or linen. If the designs become more elaborate I use the computer for the construction of the pattern and screen frames for printing. However, the blockprinting technique remains the most suggestive and the one to which I am most intimately linked.
What is the most difficult aspect of your job?
Definitely keep under control all the phases of the process. By dealing personally with research, design, printing, communication and sales, I would like to have clones that help me manage all the various steps efficiently (laughs, editor’s note). And instead when I manage to do everything alone I feel a great satisfaction. It is the beautiful side and also the complex side of when you decide to create a brand and manage every aspect yourself. Fortunately, a seamstress helps me in the packaging of the product and recently I have an assistant for the press who took over during my pregnancy. Oh yes, in the meantime little Adele has arrived.
Why did you decide to go back to Sicily? What is your relationship with your homeland?
It is a bond of hate and love. From a professional point of view what I suffer most is definitely the condition of isolation. At the same time if I had to think of myself now in another place I would not be able to imagine myself elsewhere. Sicily has this strange power to make you flee and at the same time to call you back and bring you back to you. It is as if it were animated simultaneously by centrifugal and centripetal forces. Probably only by moving away from Sicily was I able to metabolize how much it is actually linked to it. Perhaps as José Saramago says: “You have to get away from the island to see the island”. Then comes a moment when you put everything on a scale and decide how much weight to give to things and mature the idea that maybe the real challenge is to try to build something beautiful not elsewhere but in the place where you come from.
Are there any artists or architects who have stimulated your growth in these years?
Architectural studies have undoubtedly helped me in learning a method. Once you acquire that you can apply it in any area and on any scale. This is precious. The figures of reference in my growth have been different and belong to different areas: I think of Matisse’s “gouaches découpés” or the refinement of Luis Barragan architectures, the composition in the photographs of Luigi Ghirri as well as the dreamy paintings of Henri Rousseau. If I had to think of a pivotal figure then the multifaceted Bruno Munari with his “Roses in the salad” and the “illegible books” comes to mind. A concentrate of absolute genius that deeply influenced and stimulated my modus operandi.
What would you recommend to young women who would like to do this job?
To be brave. If you don’t sleep there at night it means that the time has come to jump. Making your passions a job is a huge and wonderful challenge and you must be aware of the great energy that this path requires. What I would recommend is to try to be optimistic. I has always been pessimistic in nature but I’m changing over time.
What are your future projects?
I would like to continue to carry on the project with the same constancy and dedication as now. I believe there is still much to communicate and surely there will be investments in this direction in the near future. My operational base will remain in Sicily but I will do my best to be able to take breaks around the world. Regenerating the mind and finding new ideas through travel is a fundamental condition: this is my secret agreement with Sicily.