'We fell in love with this territory long ago for its wild and isolated nature,' says Californian set designer Kyre Chenven about Sardinia, where she chose to base her artisan design brand Pretziada. 'And as we got to know the people and the crafts and the culture, we were more and more astonished that so few people outside of Italy had ever heard of the island.'
Astute readers will know of the self-contained creative scene on the southern Italian island. Consider, for example, the colourfully curated pop-up Gallery FUMI space in Porto Cervo, which this summer celebrates its eighth consecutive year.
Motivated by the wealth of local craft and the 'Sardinian obsession with perfection', Chenven – with her partner, Milanese artist Ivano Atzori – aims to bring Sardinian traditions to a contemporary design audience. To do so, they have forged contacts with a diverse group of artisans and locals, pairing them with established international designers. 'We talk to everyone,' says Atzori, 'and we investigate whatever we find fascinating. We’re equally at home in a sheepfold or an artist’s studio – which has turned out to be quite handy.'
The nomadic pair has recently invested in a cluster of four abandoned houses that they're in the process of renovating. 'Having a physical headquarters will allow us to invite collaborators for longer periods of time, to get to know the island more intimately,' Chenven explains. So far, such collaborations include teaming up with Roman designer Valentina Cameranesi Sgroi for a pair of lustrous vases, and Parisian designer Ambroise Maggiar for a contemporary wrought iron fireplace set.
'We have plenty of new items in the works,' says Chenven, 'but it is a delicate balance. We need to make sure the designer is happy, the artisan feels validated and that the cultural tradition of the island is being respected.'
Pretziada (which means 'precious' in Sardinian) is spawned by a love affair with a tiny island. It has the potential to stretch to global proportions, but one gets the impression that isn't the point. 'Our new headquarters will be our own little world,' Chenven concludes, 'where we can welcome friends, strangers, builders, poets and troublemakers to discover the silence and beauty of our island home.'