A Look Inside the Studio of a Decorative Artist

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  • February 12, 2019

Stepping behind the scenes of a decorative artist’s studio is like stepping into their mind; it’s an extremely personal space and can help you to learn a lot about materials, technique and craftsmanship. Every studio is different and magical in its own way. Some artists display their own work, some surround themselves with inspiration and some keep it clean and simple.

As decorative artists here at Pigmentti, we want to share our own history and the secrets of the Pigmentti studio with you. Working with the right people in luxury interior design is part of the process. We hope you enjoy this small glimpse into our imagination.

Charcoal sketching at the studio in Solagna
Inside Pigmentti Studio – Tempera painted panels

A little history of Pigmentti

Pigmentti’s first home is nestled in the centre of the small town of Solagna in the province of Vicenza, North-Eastern Italy. It’s a small place, where typically, everyone knows one another within the community. It’s just a short bike ride way from Paolo’s home. Paolo was born in Bassano del Grappa, the closest city to Solagna, and has worked in decoration since the age of 14.

Solagna, drone view
Bas-relief panels outside our studio in Solagna

He studied at the European Centre for Heritage Crafts and Profession in Venice before studying under Professor Enio Verenini back in Bassano. It was here that Paolo was asked to join the Verenini family decoration company and learnt 3 generations of expertise over the course of 20 years, not least bas-relief sculpture, trompe l’oeil murals, verre églomisé, gilding, ceiling decoration, glazing and furniture finishes.

I started on my artistic decoration path at the renowned Institut Supérior de Peinture Van Der Kelen et Logelain academy in Brussels before continuing my studies at Ecole d’Art Mural de Versailles in Paris. I enjoyed the depth of artistic inspiration in European cities and had the pleasure to work with Thierry Thenaers, an interior architectural studio, in Brussels for 10 years, where I have mastered a variety of painted decoration techniques.

Noel (left) and Paolo (right) at the studio in Solagna

Paolo and I first met on social media in 2014 and later in real life at the International Salon of Decorative Painters in Lecce, Italy. From the very start, we both believed in the importance of ensuring the work of the great art masters lived on and this bond has left us as close friends as well as colleagues. We bring this bond to our studio and to our mission: to bring on the artistic decoration revival by bringing traditional techniques and materials into contemporary design.

The Artistic Inspiration

Pigmentti has stayed loyal to its roots by maintaining a studio in Solagna as well as a second base in my home of Ireland. Northern Italy is a whirlwind of inspiration for decorative artists thanks to its stunning architecture and beautifully maintained villas. Being close to inspiration is vital when it comes to working in a studio. Some of the main sites of original artwork can be found not too far from the studio, such as the Villa Valmarana ai Nani – a Venetian villa located at the gates of the city of Vicenza. It’s something that never fails to excite us as decorative artists.

Villa Valmarana ai Nani, Vicenza – Italy

As you can see in our studio tour video, the villa is famous for the trompe l’oeil murals and extraordinary frescoes by Giambattista Tiepolo and his son Giandomenico. Tiepolo painted frescoes on the vestibule and four ground-floor rooms of the villa, while his son executed the decoration in the adjacent guest house, the Foresteria. The exquisite work is a direct source of inspiration for us and it is in part this that has kept us working on maintaining these traditional techniques as well as contemporising the methods for luxury interior design today.

Frescoes and trompe l’oeil murals from Tiepolo at Villa Valmarana ai Nani

Inside the Studio, Solagna

The Solagna studio is set over two floors on a quiet street. Large panel windows fill the space with natural light and warmth. It’s an open and airy space that allows us to work on various different stages of design projects; charcoal sketching, watercolour studies, sculpting, painting, gilding in gold leaf. Our studio feels like a cocoon to us. It’s a secure place that allows us to be creative in a secure manner whilst opening our minds. When we come here, it’s not work. It’s our passion and vocation. The excitement of what the potential of the day can bring is a very satisfying feeling.

Noel and Paolo discussing a project at the Pigmentti studio in Solagna

Paolo and I have a collaborative relationship that really shows itself in our studio. When we enter the studio together there is a magnetic attraction to each other. There is harmony between the two of us, but also contrast. In art, we have the same ideas but sometimes our life philosophy is different. The studio brings this out in interesting conversations, and highlights the hugely creative and physical energy between us. We can have different individual ideas but together we start big concepts.

Pigmentti Spolvero archives
Applying the Spolvero on Marmorino surface

Process is important to how a piece of work is created and this is something we heavily agree on. The environment can deeply impact the final result and that is why space is so important to us. The Solagna studio allows us to pay respect to our materials and gives us enough room to move while making.

Materials have a language and we believe it’s our job as decorative artists to listen to that voice and make the most of it. We like the materials we work with and they become the catalyst for our ideas. When mixing materials such as Marmorino, the process is almost scientific and involves feeling the material. The studio doubles up as a laboratory when it comes to these processes and you’ll spot many tools, equipment and even scientific containers filled with pigments to support this. When we have good ideas and good materials the result is always superb.

Sculpting bas-relief Marmorino

Large-scale works and sketches on parchment surround the studio. From baroque, neoclassical, art deco and modern pieces, there is inspiration from each era. Canvas paintings, villa floor-plans and photographs also act as mood boards for working.

Before we start working on a project, we do a little warm up, a ritual if you please. We look at a book, contemplate, look at a material; we continue to look at books in our library to open our minds to new ideas. Sometimes, we can even look at the same book 10 times in a day.

Something we haven’t noticed before will always appear. Then with some paper, we start to draw freely. It doesn’t matter if it’s good or not. We might continue to draw for hours on one idea.

After the drawing is complete, the thinking stops and it’s our hands that do the work – they conclude the creative response, just as they should.

Charcoal sketch

Pigmentti’s goal when working with luxury interior designers or architects across the world is to realise the artistic vision of the client. The studio helps to set the scene for this; a home away from home for anyone who visits and a work of art in itself. No matter the size of your project, whether interior or exterior, your imagination is Pigmentti’s canvas. We specialise in bas-relief sculpture, trompe l’oel murals, gilding, gold leaf, frescoes and painted ornaments. Contact Pigmentti today for advice or further information.

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