In the very heart of Varese, the “garden city” renowned for its Art Nouveau villas, its parks and proximity to the enchanting Lombard lakes, small contemporary factory can be discovered, where Elena Magni’s and Valeria Bellorini’s sophisticated savoir-faire gives life to state-of the art furnishings accessories based on precious, unusual materials.
What is Younik and how did it come into being? What is your story?
Younik is a small contemporary factory located in the heart of Varese, inspired by our passion for design, art, craftsmanship and lifestyle. We both wished to express our taste and capability through pieces with a strong impact, based on modern top artistic craftsmanship, with a special personality. Our project of establishing an atelier dedicated to designing and creating pieces of furniture took shape while collaborating with a restorer. With her, we experimented for the first time how to apply fabrics to period pieces. We started visiting antique markets, much to our delight, and buying tables or consoles we could “revisit” and turn into special items. We experimented working with different, often atypical, materials, aiming at exploring new expressive paths. When we managed to find the right balance between inventiveness, materials and functionality, we decided to create a real collection, synthesizing technique and mind. We then started planning our creations and directly created furnishing accessories with a strong personality, which were easily recognisable, and had been totally devised and created by us.
Where do you stand within the world of contemporary high craftsmanship? Who are you addressing and with what specificities?
We wish to address all those who love beautiful, hand-crafted objects, who care about details, artisanship and tailoring applied to design. We interact with those who do not comply with mass taste and want to be surprised by an object which can tell a story and express the beauty of life even in these difficult times. Our work is a synthesis of decorative technique and planning and is naturally aimed at a niche audience that appreciates the culture of beauty and loves the Italian tradition, with a contemporary sensibility. Our pieces often meet the taste of architects, designers, collectors, and lovers of high craftsmanship.
Which are your sources of inspiration? Your poetics?
Inspiration comes from a number of sources. First of all, artistic and cultural sources: great Italian art, but also Klimt’s precious paintings recalling the splendour of Byzantine mosaics; the refined decorative motifs of Eastern art and again the china patterns, from Meissen’s delicate floral designs to Rosamunde Nairac’s Nineteen Sixties stylised Rosenthal flowers, up to today’s Taitù variegated brushstrokes. Images, memories, and personal feelings visit our minds, overlapping and coming apart, and creating unforeseen effects. We think we need an inquiring mind, it is mandatory to approach all that surrounds us with curiosity and attention, Nature’s beauty first, which we are profusely drawing on… Flowers, leaves, and birds of all shapes are recurring figures in our iconography, declined both in a naturalistic or geometric, abstract way. We are also inspired by our common passions, like porcelain. Ideation is the fruit of strong contamination. All of these suggestions finally reverberate in our poetics, resulting in works able to unleash a strong seductive energy and evade standardization.
Which technique do you use to create your design concepts? And which materials do you prefer to employ?
We like to apply mix and match, not to overburden decoration, but to imbue the piece with a unique, original value through an almost “alchemic” process. Knobs, nails, brass and alpaca plates enter into a dialogue with precious warp fabrics and with wire nets featuring ultra-modern patterns. Steel strips imbue them with a contemporary flair while gold, whatever its declination, adds preciousness and light. And, it is this very synergy between materials that confers our imprinting to the final product. The whole sequence ends with the skilful work of metal and glass master craftsmen, collaborating with us to create structures and top finishing. Testing ourselves against their technical expertise is always a pleasure for us, as our pieces are expected to be aesthetically attractive, but also meet all functionality requirements.
How do you conceive an idea to create your furnishings? How do you combine conception, design and production?
As we were saying, the project comes forth through different inspirations and experiences. Our structures always feature a very neat, modern design, so as to leave space to decoration. Each step of the production cycle demands in-depth work and strict adherence to a pre-established common thread: the decoration is to be explored and fine-tuned in the least details. First you tackle the subtle work of choosing and combining fabrics, which is quite a challenging step, and is crucial to the successful outcome of the work. We carry out preliminary tests to find out which materials could be more suitable as well as sampling every single décor… Finally, we start the manual creation which takes a consistent amount of time: it is very long work, requiring a well-trained eye, great manual skills and… endless patience!
What is the uniqueness your name also refers to? What makes your works unique?
Each of our works is actually a unique piece, which can never be replicated in the same way. Even when the shape is repeated, the decoration can never be exactly the same, because it follows the different structure of the materials and can never become a replica. Each piece has its own special qualities and variations: it is always a new challenge, and our eyes and hands are never the same either. After all, uniqueness is actually an innate characteristic of artistic craftsmanship, which makes it a highly creative job, far from serial reproduction and uniformity, and, for this reason, so close to the human heart.