Both uplifting and melancholic, Constanza Vallese’s flowers appear on paintings, ceramic tiles, jewellery, and now on a capsule of bronze furniture. The Argentine artist talks to Sara Pierdonà about her newest projects, and why she will never stop learning and searching for beauty.
BY SARA PIERDONÀ | 27 NOVEMBER 2023
Constanza Vallese, pictured with her bronze chairs © Gianluca Bellomo
Born in Buenos Aires and raised in an artistic, creative family, Constanza Vallese first became interested in design when she moved to New York and began experimenting in sculpture and painting. In the years since, the Argentine artist – who now lives in Portugal – has curated impeccable homes, built with bold lines and earthy colors, and developed her unique and covetable style. She is often captured in photographs of her home, appearing, not center stage, as both a creative mind and muse.
Perhaps unexpectedly, given her androgynous, pared-back aesthetic, and sparsely furnished homes, flowers dominate her figurative language. “I'm not interested in them for their beauty, that would be too simple,” she says, mimicking the shape of fading petals. “It's the transience, the interesting part. And their complexity. If you look at them very closely, their shape is sometimes almost strange.”
Flowers by Constanza Vallese © Josh Olins
Fascinating and melancholic, her flowers appear on paintings, ceramic tiles, jewellery, and now bronze furniture – two chairs, a small table and a pair of wall sconces, all made at Fonderia Battaglia in Milan. Although the chairs are exceptionally heavy and difficult to move around, Constanza loves to imagine a set of six set around “a black lacquered or concrete dining table with a long Noguchi lamp hanging from the ceiling”.
The project had been on her mind for some time, yet took just a month to realize. “I went to the foundry from Monday to Friday and worked the same hours as the craftsmen, who taught me a lot,” she says. “At the weekend I would escape to the seaside, because Milan, in June, was torrid and the working conditions tough.” Alongside, she collaborated on a sculptural jewellery collection with Elhanati, a Danish goldsmith. “We made silver pieces inspired by natural forms, full of precious details.”
Floral cutlery by Constanza Vallese © Josh Olins
Working with such ancient materials is particularly inspirational for Constanza, who admits to being artistically driven by “a certain nostalgia for a time I haven’t lived”. Although inspiration for her works can take many forms and is generally informed by both experience and visual stimuli, she repeatedly connects most with ancient crafts and periods. “If I had to identify a reference for my silver collection, for example, it would definitely be the Victorian Gothic taste,” she says.
Even as a child, she was always making and creating. She recalls asking her mother to make large fabric bows for her hair, and wandering around her grandmother's gardens in search of florals, "to steal petals from flowers and other bits to make cakes with". "I admired my big brother and listened to his invented stories for hours, [but] it was hard for my parents to get me to sit still," she says, "I was always dancing or exploring."
Bronze chairs, Constanza Vallese © Gianluca Bellomo
A natural artist and intellectual – her favorite museums include the Museo Marino Marini in Florence and Gypsotheca of Antonia Canova in Veneta – Constanza, known as Conie to her friends, matches her prolifically productive professional life, with a quieter personal life. “I am embracing the simplicity of it all more and more,” she tells Cabana.
“I want to live in a small house surrounded by trees, [the ocean], and a huge garden where I can grow my own food, fruit and flowers.” She also aspires to, “always wonder”, adding that it is "learning and beauty that keeps me going".
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