Zazie Gnecchi Ruscone is the colour girl. This young Rome-based veartisan (she picked the definition for herself) and interior designer creates home decor and furniture with vivid patterns and unpredictable geometries: we subjected her to our ZigZag Questionnaire to find out more about her and her method.
You said you don’t see yourself as an artist, but an artisan. Given that all artisans are artists but not all artists are artisans, how and when did you pick this definition for yourself?
I’ve always defined myself like that, because my aim is to create something that is not only beautiful but also useful, that has some function in everyday life, albeit a purely decorative one. I don’t feel any different from all those artisans whom I see at work in their shops every day, in silence, creating objects with their hands with no intermediaries. On the other hand, I feel different from some artists who confuse beauty with provocation, fierceness with conceit, a good idea with genius.
Are there any colour matches you really dislike?
There are no colour matches I don’t like, given that any colour can have a thousand nuances: yellow can be mustard, gold, canary, egg. Nature teaches us that that there are no “wrong” matches, and you should never have a prejudice about it. I definitely dislike “fake” colours like neon, though.
What are your main sources of inspiration?
I’d say there isn’t one thing that inspires me more than another: sometimes inspiration can be completely unconscious. Some forms or images stick in your mind and come out when you least expect them. Nature, however, is my greatest and most unpredictable source of inspiration.
What’s your superpower?
What attracts you in a dress that makes you want to buy it?
Cut, fit, the quality of the fabric.
Can you tell us about your method of work, if you have one?
My method is very simple and my tools are fabric, my hands, two or three brushes that have been the same for years and bottles of primary colours for fabric… the rest is a secret.
Is there anything you’ve ever wanted to create, that was all in your head but didn’t come out the way you meant it?
There are many things I want to make, but I’m still young and I think that if you have passion and drive there is nothing that’s really impossible to make. Sometimes you need to not become fixated on things that you can’t get right on your first attempt. If you’re not obstinate and try and try again over time you get to a point where you’re ready, and it happens.
What about interior design? Was there ever a house that you saw in some way and your client in another and you couldn’t come to an agreement?
People usually come to me because I make everything by hand and upon request, and so I can create custom designs and respond to (almost) all of my clients’ requests. It’s definitely necessary to go along with the idea that a person has of their house, and be capable of listening and being flexible; often, though, people come to me with one idea in mind and leave with another. If they as me to make something that goes against my idea of beauty or I think is unsuitable, however, I usually take the risk of saying it.
When is it officially spring for you?
Spring for me starts when the mimosa outside the window of my studio starts to bloom.
Can you tell us about your first time with Missoni?
I was in a mountain dew and I’d accidentally poured vin brulé on myself. A friend of mine lent me an old jumper that he had with him in his backpack: it was very beautiful, from one of Missoni’s first collections. I still have it.
What’s the style rule you have found to be always valid over the years, regardless of trends?
Perhaps just to avoid following trends, dress with personality, your own personality.
Many people who work in fashion and style prefer to move to Milan, but you live and work in Rome. What have you found in the Capital that you haven’t found anywhere else?
I can’t say I work in one sector or another, fashion or interior design.
I like to come out with designs and not think of any one use for them: this allows my imagination to run free, and only later do I rework what I’ve created to fit the object. As for fashion, I usually work with people I admire and we “choose each other”, so in reality I could live anywhere. One thing that is essential for me is to find inspiration and work according to my own schedule. My mood is very much influenced by the weather, so light for me is fundamental and the sky in Rome is often clear, with colours going from blue to purple to pink and yellow in the space of a few hours. I was born here and I left for a few years, but eventually I chose Rome because it’s also the city where I’m lucky enough to have a beautiful studio, in a garden right at the heart of Trastevere. I love leaving Rome and coming back to it, each time with the same intensity: it’s a strange feeling that not all places can give you.
Where is your place of the soul?
My country house, where I’m always at peace, and the sea, any sea.
What’s the last book you’ve read and liked?
The Art of Joy, by Goliarda Sapienza.
Who is your heroine?
My grandmother, because she was a brave woman, elegant with a fierce temperament. Strong, but graceful.