EL was born in 2015 out of the encounter between the graphic designer Isabella Attanasio and the architect Marina Migneco, united by their passion for the contemporary and for the crafts, for sinuous and dynamic forms and for experimentation in all its possible facets. They conceive, design, make, assemble and apply the finishing touches to their objects at their two small workshops in Catania and Venice, relying on companies in the Veneto to do the electroplating and precision casting. Recently they have also set up an e-commerce platform.
What is EL?
EL speaks of relations between parts, of what is bathed in light and what is hidden in shadow, of unstable equilibria, fragile tensions, uncertain shifts or interrupted courses, wearable metaphors for a competitive interplay of weight, material and colour. The meeting between two women in love with crafts, manual skill and experimentation with materials.
A strong desire to personally make low-tech objects for immediate use is what motivated us to embark on this venture.
Our pieces of jewellery are mobile mechanisms, micro-works of architecture
Has there been a moment or a person that has influenced the choices you have made?
A strong desire to personally make low-tech objects for immediate use is what motivated us to embark on this venture. It is fundamental for us that none of the steps in the production of the jewellery should entail industrial processes or professional mediation. Even the design stage is carried out directly with the object, without any preliminary drawings, which allows us to see immediately whether it is going to ‘work’ or not.
What is the philosophy that lies behind the creation of your jewellery?
Rather than stemming from a philosophy ours is a declaration of intent: producing articles to be worn that have a form complete in itself, but that can find new meanings in their relationship with the body. Our pieces of jewellery are mobile mechanisms, micro-works of architecture made with a core of bronze and the micro profiling tools used in model-making and the industrial production of small metal parts, which house and are combined with elements deeply rooted in the tradition of local Italian handicraft. The spun glass of Murano, the tesserae and enamel beads of the historic Venetian furnaces, Sicilian china clay: the whole process of assembly is a hybridization between the handmade and industrial production, in keeping with a modernist aesthetic, but one with a local flavour.
What does it mean to be an artisan?
It is hard to give a complete description of the contemporary artisan. Take jewellery for example: it has many different aspects, eluding a single definition: it is not ‘necessary’ or ‘functional’, but it is one of the oldest forms of handicraft; not recognized as a strictly artistic object, the piece of jewellery is admired rather for its technical intricacy or its preciousness, and all this pertains to the manual skill and ingenuity typical of the artisan.
Where do you get your inspiration?
El Lissitzky’s concept of the Proun was the first step towards the production of the series Muv e Proun, Tube, Quadro, Gap, Hole and Obli, mobile and immobile assemblages of primary geometric shapes. The series Snake, Curve, Nodo and Nido allude to open and dynamic lines and forms, in the process of becoming, movements typical of ballet. The Saw series, on the other hand, makes reference to another sphere, that of a relationship with the material which is almost one of opposition, a physical connection established through wearing away by friction: we have made them by subtracting instead of adding.
How did you come up with this idea? Was there something or someone that provided the inspiration?
Historical avant-garde movements like Russian Constructivism, Oscar Schlemmer’s triadic ballet, Mario Pinton’s Padua school of jewellery making, with the craftsmen Giampaolo Babetto, Francesco Pavan and Graziano Visentin, and then Osvaldo Licini, Fausto Melotti and the Sicilian artist Gino Cosentino: these are the models from which we have taken ideas for our creations.
What makes a piece of jewellery authentic?
Its interaction with the body: the body sets in motion and activates the object, thereby turning it into jewellery, translating the form into movement and sound, into an object that is lived and has a life of its own, quite apart from the material out of which it is made. And precious material then makes it eternal.