This Italian watercolour shop is inspired by art history
Located in Assisi, Umbria, A Gallo is a shop selling watercolours and art supplies, whose interiors were reimagined by Milan- and London-based studio Duelle to reference art history
Melanie Liaw and Micaela Nardella of Milan- and London-based design studio Duelle have created the interiors for A Gallo, a watercolour shop in Assisi, Umbria, specialising in natural pigments and art supplies, including paints, brushes and sketchbooks.
The store was founded by artist Alina Gallo, who was inspired to make her own paint following her studies of manuscript painting techniques and interest in the history of pigments. After studying Timurid, Byzantine, Safavid and Ottoman miniature painting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, Gallo moved to Assisi to continue her research and practice. Together with her husband, she developed the brand with a vision to connect artists with pigments that relate to the origins of artistic materials. A long process of experimentation led to a formula producing environmentally friendly pigments that match historical shades such as vermilion, carmine and verderame.
For the design of the space, the duo behind Duelle focused on colour: ‘The interior had its own historical palette, from the red-brown timber shopfront to the traditional cement tile floor of cream and burgundy,’ they explain. To complement the original tones, they added a soft lavender colour to the walls (by Italian brand Kerakoll), in reference to Umbria’s lavender fields.
To honour the work behind A Gallo, Liaw and Nardella researched traditional paint supply shops throughout Italian culture, and their design. ‘These spaces, often with long histories, are densely packed with artists’ materials displayed upon simple timber joinery,’ say the pair. ‘We loved this concept of “the art shop of the past”, working with one maker to handcraft all the shop fittings, emphasising the solid connections of the oak in clean, crisp lines.’
The design features a gallery-like display for the watercolours, discreet wooden shelving that allows the raw pigments to take over the space. ‘There is something quite magical about the array of colours in their natural, powder form, before they are transformed by Alina Gallo and her team into the artist materials as we know them,’ they add.
‘The additional elements are purposely natural, with the colour coming from the materials themselves; the honey tones of the European oak, the warm white of the ceramic pendants by Italian artist Enrico Donadello and the glazed lava stone by local maker Domiziani,’ they add. ‘The gallery feel we envisioned became the perfect backdrop for the richly coloured product line – from the half-pan watercolour paints to the hand-blown jars showcasing raw pigments to the vibrantly marbled papers.’
Via San Rufino, 25
Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.
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