Studio Fludd is formed by Matteo Baratto, Caterina Gabelli, Sara Maragotto and Valeria Sanguin. The activities of the Venezia based artistic collective revolve around the theories of Robert Fludd, a prominent English alchemist. Art Direction, Graphic Design, Illustration, Product Design, Decoration, Concept Development and Visuals are some of the fields the creative quartet expands on.
Sara Maragato was more than willing to answer to our questions, revealing many things about Studio Fludd’s team. Among them being that their panacea is ice cream. And yes, we believe that is the key to happiness too.
How did you guys meet and decide to start Studio Fludd?
We met at High School - Valeria, Matteo and me, Sara - and then I met Caterina at the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice. We've been working together since 2008. Studio Fludd was born from the common desire to collaborate in hybrid projects and from the dissatisfaction with the surrounding creative and visual level.
Is Robert Fludd a common reference which all of you have?
Caterina and I discovered R. Fludd during our Artistic Anatomy studies at the Academy. We were totally stuck by his fascinating and visionary representations.
Why did he have such a great influence on you?
We like the sound of the word, and we think that the alchemy metaphor is a good one to inspire and relate our work in general.
Sara, could you tell us a bit more about Studio Fludd's activity?
Our collective counts with four very different people working together, with different natures and skills but a pretty common aesthetic. We really influence each other, but we still remain very complementary. In our projects we experiment with mixtures: illustration, printing, installation, public art, food, styling, graphic and product design - all approached with an artisanal attitude. For a presentation we choose five key-words to describe our work: Alchemy, Handicraft, Taste, Polyphony, Vividness - I think this is the plan for the next 5, or 50 years.
What inspires you?
Matter and materials, in primis. Visual analogies between really different fields (like Geology and Ice-cream, as in the wide and on-going project Gelatology); old iconographies, Venice, or just a momentary interest of one of us.
You seem to use specific motifs frequently. Is there a symbolism behind these cones, pyramids and cubicles?
We love neat shapes and volumes combined with irregular texture and soft matter. We work on contrasts. There isn't an obscure symbolism, sometimes these simple elements are a kind of natural synthesis, outcomes of our playful process.
How would you define your team? Are you artists?
Difficult one... I don't know! We often react to artistic and more free projects as strict designers, and vice versa when we are working on a commissioned work we try and expand the point of view, searching for alternative tracks.
I’ve seen on your site that you collaborate with many artistic teams and theaters. Which of your latest collaborations is the most exciting to you?
We just attended a very nice collective event in Saint Denis, France at Zone Sensible, with a bunch of cool creative people - it's been fresh air. We feel rather isolated in our little Venice, so we struggle to organize events of public art like the Fondamenta one. This year will be it's second edition and we're very happy about it, there is really nothing simple when talking about collaborations and innovation.
You were on tour. Tell us a bit about your experience.
At this time we are looking around, we need new stimuli and contacts. It all happened because we were invited to go to Bruxelles and Saint-Denis/Paris in the same week, so we took advantage and left for a week on tour. It was really good! We had two flash exhibitions, three workshops, a sale of our handmade design and fanzines, old and new friends, and lots and lots of niceness.
Which European cities are next and where would you like to go but are not going yet?
We have plans in Ljubljana in May and Turin in June. It'd be great to explore the East Europe (Poland, Baltic Republics) and we'd be thrilled to plunge in high-quality Nordic Countries.
In your "About" section, you call yourselves alchemists. Do you believe you actually alternate matters to 'gold' – and by gold I mean something important, meaningful, spiritual - with your art?
Totally metaphorically! That is the highly ideal aim. It would be great to add that we put our best energy and honest vision and vivid ideas in everything we do.
What is your own panacea?
“Your microcosm within the macrocosm of the universe”. Do you believe in the power of universe upon our lives?
We think/see that everything is authentically connected. There's a quote in Italo Calvino's Palomar that says: “It is only after you have come to know the surface of things that you venture to seek what is underneath. But the surface is inexhaustible.” So…
Name some of your favourite artists.
First ones that come to my mind are: Hieronymus Bosch, Vittore Carpaccio, Giotto, Giorgio Morandi, Kazimir Malevich, Francis Bacon, Bruno Munari, Raw Color, Jockum Nordström, Blexbolex, Olafur Eliasson, Medieval stuff.
Which of your works do you find the most characteristic of your aesthetic?
Our self-produced collections are the project with the highest level of autarchy and complexity: concept, design, craft, styling, photography, graphic, illustration, model scouting, texts… So, pretty much everything. Everything we do, has its own character.