Friday, January 18, 2013

Contemporary Florence : An interview with Alessia Càmpera

As an artist and designer one of the most important influences for me are other artists and designers. I believe that having a community of like-minded people who share  the same ideas and passions is essential to creativity. Art in its many forms is a language and I am continually fascinated by the message that other artists aim to communicate though their work. 

The ideas of the Renaissance masters was not to continue repeating the same ideas and methods but rather to continue pushing forward and create the new and unexpected and to challenge the perception of what art is.  Contemporary art aims to push the boundaries of these accepted ideas and move away from the past to create the present.  With this in mind,  I will be conducting a series of interviews here on my blog to highlight the artists, designers and creative minds of present day Florence.

In conjunction with our facebook group Creative People in Florence, I will be conducting a series of interviews with our group members. In the coming months I hope to be able to interview each member who is currently living in Florence as a way of highlighting their wide range of talents. The questions will be exactly the same for each artist/designer and creative person, what is fascinating are the similarities as well as the differences in the answers. 

So, with that, please allow me to introduce you to Alessia Càmpera, a jewelry designer whose craftsmanship is the epitome of perfection, each tiny detail is handled with care and patience. Her line of handmade goodness is called Craftduck and you can find her blog here in Italian only) follow her on facebook here  and check out her Etsy shop while you're at it 

Tell us a little bit about yourself:
My name isAlessia. I was born and grew up in Rome, then travelled quite a bit following my husband. We lived for some years in Africa: there I discovered beads and since then I've been obsessed with them! I like making jewellery using ancientbeadweaving techniques, trying to combine the inspiration coming from myafrican memories with my personal idea of colour and design.

Why did you choose Florence or did Florence choose you?
After spendingalmost 10 years abroad with my husband, we decided to come back to Italy. Wedidn't want to live either in Roma (my city) or Milan (his), so half jokinglywe said we should live halfway. Bologna and Firenze were the most obviousoptions: we spent brief holidays in both cities, doing some sightseeing andjust strolling around, trying to understand how it felt living there. Firenzeconquered us almost immediately.

What is your favorite thing/place/sight in the city or all ofthe above?
A favourite placeof mine is certainly San Miniato al Monte: I like going there on foot, it's awonderful walk, in very quiet and beautiful surroundings. What I love inFlorence is that it's relatively easy to find yourself strolling around in the countryside only a few minutes away from the centre. Being accustomed tothe delirious and gigantic dimensions of Rome, where you have to take a car andgo a long way through squalid suburbia before seeing some nice countryside, Ifind this almost miracoulous.

Was there a defining moment when you knew that you wanted tobe an artist? If so when and what was it?
I've never seenmyself as an artist; I think of myself as an artisan, someone who works withtheir hands and transforms raw materials in finished objects.
I've beenexperimenting some different creative pursuits in the last 20 years (I loveknitting, crochet, glass painting, découpage...), but when I took on beading Iimmediately felt I had found my privileged creative channel.

What or who is your greatest inspiration and why?
Since I stilldon't feel I have really found my way in my life, I find deeply inspiringpeople who, like me, struggled for many years looking for their vocation. Thatexplains why, in my personal pantheon, there is a place for a large andvariegated group of people, from Julia Child to Grandma Moses, from GertrudeJekyll to Adriana Zarri: what they had in common is that, despite somedifficult moments, they didn't fall in despair and kept on looking for theirnorth star and when they found it, they just worked and worked and worked andstuck to it.

What is the best thing about being an artist? What is themost difficult part?
Probably the factthat you can find inspiration and ideas for new projects almost in everything:even the most mundane task or experience can open exciting and unexpectedperspectives. It depends on you, on your capability and willingness to stayopen, receptive, available.
This way, life israrely boring or dull, but rather an overflowing, generous and neverendingcreative process.
The most difficultpart is being capable of living those difficult moments in which inspirationseems to abandon you, in which you feel you've lost contact with your deepestsource of joy and realisation: you have to accept those moments, to livethrough them, knowing that they are as necessary as the ones in which you feelliterally submerged and carried away by your creativity and vision, trustinginspiration would come back, again and again.

What message do you hope to convey with your art/creativeprocess?
For many manyyears I thought I was neither creative nor particularly able to use my hands:in my family, I was the bookworm, the eternal student, not the artist, nor theartisan. Nonetheless, I felt I wanted to express myself with my hands butdidn't have the courage to do so. Then finally I gave myself permission and nowI'm enjoying immensely my newly found creativity.
If I've managed tofind my creative way, anyone can do it!

What is art/design to you? How would you define art?
Difficultquestion. Art is life, really. It's life and at the same time it's a way tolook at life, to live it, to fully feel it and to celebrate its beauty andgenerousity.

Do you listen to music when you work? If so who or what?
Always! And Ilisten to very different music, depending on the day and my mood. But Iparticularly like listening to classical music, Michael Nyman, Paolo Conte and,recently, to Kings of Convenience and Feist.

If you could go back in time 10 years knowing everythingthat you know now what would you change and why? Or what would you tellyourself?
I'd probablychange nothing: every experience, even one which might look like a loss oftime, is useful and necessary. But I'd say to myself more often: “Don't be afraid!Just have a try! Go for it!”

Who is your favorite artist/designer/writer/performer?
The list isendless. By impulse, I'd say: Virginia Woolf. I like the way she worked hard onher novels, as an artisan, polishing them, refining them, at the same timestaying deeply tuned with her deepest and mysterious source of inspiration,like a sybil.

What is your favorite movie?
Difficultquestion. Maybe “Hannah and her sisters”, by Woody Allen.

What is your favorite book?
Another mostdifficult question, since I have many favourite books (books are one of mybiggest passions in life). But if I must choose one, probably I'd say“Orlando”, by Virginia Woolf or “Memoirs of Hadrian” by Marguerite Yourcenar,or “The French Lieutenant's Woman” by John Fowles.

Describe yourself in five words.
Enthusiastic,optimistic, insecure, melancholic, contemplative.

When you’re not being creative what do you do?
I read read read.I listen to music. I enjoy a walk. I play with my two cats. And I spend my timein the kitchen, especially baking.

If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be?
Paris, orScandinavia.

Is there anything else that you want people to know aboutyou?
Maybe that Ienjoyed immensely this interview :-)
What do you think of Aessia's interview and creations? Tell us in the comments below!


  1. I really like her work, especially the necklaces that look African inspired. Thank you for sharing her story!

  2. How exciting, Sara! Can't thank you enough for your generosity!
    @ Christy: thank you to you, too :-)


  3. It was my absolute pleasure! Such a great interview indeed! So insightful and heartfelt. THANK YOU Alessia!


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