Studio Medea — exclusive interview

Emerging from an unquenchable thirst to capture the essence of their Italian roots, Adele and Cinzia – now based in Byron Bay, honour the history and artistic beauty of their motherland in their project Studio Medea — a result of deep nostalgia and poetical urges for Italy.

Inspired by the legend of their namesake, Studio Medea is a curation of handcrafted, artisanal wares from the Mediterranean.

Can you share a moment growing up that was quintessentially Italian?

Despite coming from different places in Italy, for both of us, our quintessentially Italian memories are strongly connected with il mare. For Cinzia, growing up in the north of Milano, the summer holiday and the short trip to get to the sea have always represented one of her best and most loved memories. “Myself, my mum, my sister, my aunty, my cousins and my nonna would pack our small FIAT Cinquecento with all the essentials for the next 3 months and drive the 2 hours that divide us from Milano to the sea of Laigueglia, in Liguria, once there it was just a dream coming true… the excitement of the first one of us that would spot the sea from the window of the car, the flavour of the focaccia for merenda, sleeping with my cousins in the same bed, rushing our summer homework in order to run back to the beach as soon as possible, la nonna waiting for us everyday with lunch ready on the table, the sunburn skin, the smell of the aftersun.

For Adele, is a beach-day in Sicily, surrounded by stunning villas liberty, “When I think about home, I always pictured in my mind my nonni, the food and the endless Sunday lunches, Nonna is making fresh pasta scrimping at Nonno to stop feeding us peach with red wine, but as well the whole day at the beach with family and friends, crystal sea water, kids everywhere, plenty of food, fruits and drinks under a big umbrella, music on, mums screaming “don’t go to swim too far with the Pedaló, you just finished to eat!” Sicilian people live by the sea, for us, the Mediterranean is a lifestyle, these days at the beach always end with a brioche con gelato al bar with family.

With travel restrictions recently, I assume you are missing your motherland immensely. How do you inject a little Italian into your day-to-day life?

We usually go back home every year as all our families are still there, unfortunately due to COVID we haven’t had the chance to travel to Italy since 2019. Luckily enough we are a pretty tight and loud group of Italians here in Byron, we are like a family, we can always rely on each other. We catch up everyday for an espresso, or for a proper dinner… eating, chatting, drinking and singing, always a lot of singing. Without our extended family that comes from every corner of Italy, honestly, we think that we wouldn’t have been able to cope with COVID, especially for Cinzia being a new mum, she can’t be grateful enough to all our extended Italian famiglia for all the love and support and for helping her and her husband with little Tommaso to always stick to our roots! On top of that we speak with our family everyday, Adele has a big family and she loves to hear from her mum about her brother and sisters, it helps to overcome the nostalgia of home.

I love the mythology around the Moorish Heads! What was the reasoning behind the name Medea?

Medea, in Greek mythology she was an enchantress who helped Jason, leader of the Argonauts, to obtain the Golden Fleece from her father. Euripides presented her in a way that inspired both fear and pathos. As an independent woman, legend has it that when betrayed by her partner Jason, Medea chose not to submit to his will, and sought her own revenge. In modern history Medea has been known to symbolise both power and independence.She was also known to be living in the Mediterraneo and to be the niece of the Sun, which is a powerful elemental source of abundance and life. Inspired by this passionate legend, we chose to call ourselves STUDIO MEDEA as the independent and powerful women that we are, and because we make a conscious effort to delicately select each piece according to the history and legend that it carries to bring Mediterranean beauty and poetry into every home.

Can you tell us about some of the craftsmen you are directly working with for Studio Medea, and how you came to discover them?

Most of our craftsman are located in Sicilia, few of them are in the town of Caltagirone, which is historically known for the production of maiolica –  which refers to earthenware painted with tin oxide glazing enamels before firing at a low temperature to reach a reflective, hard finish, a method originated in Italy during Renaissance -. They all are family run businesses which have been working with ceramics for a few generations. Being both Italian we are lucky enough to have the opportunity to actually explore the territory and get directly in contact with our artisan… and this is what we did and whenever is not possible for us to physically go, we send our family in the hunt for new producer, as we think that is absolutely essential for us having not just a work relationship with our artist but to actually know them, as Italians is part of our culture  to build strong and trustful relationships, so we talk with them very often, not only about business, but about our day to day, what we had for lunch, how hot it is, and how much we are missing Italy right now.

I love how expressive and maximalist your curation of objects are. I’m curious to know what some of your personal references are, for the likes of designers, films or architecture.

Definitely one of our all time favourite fashion designers is Dolce & Gabbana, a massive reference for us, which represents anything that is Siciliano, the colours, the patterns, the perfumes of this beautiful island. As architect/designer definitely Gaetano Pesce, a true pioneer of the 20th century for his inventive use of colour and materials, and Gae Aulenti, a very strong woman, one of the loudest voices of postmodernism of the 20th century. Then we have Fellini and Tornatore, their movies are just masterpieces and an endless source of inspiration, like the music of Lucio Battisti, Mina and Gino Paoli.

You are now based in Byron Bay, how do you enjoy your community’s offerings?

Byron Bay is actually astonishing!  Being a “small rural town” the amount of community and cultural offering available in the area it is absolutely amazing. From Mullum to Brusnwick, Bangalow and surrounding there is always something going on…a little opening, a small vernissage, cabaret night, drive in cinemas, delicious pop-ups, and many events of all sorts, everything we need to make our nostalgia for home a little bit sweeter.

And lastly, is there anything exciting planned for Studio Medea for 2022?

We are about to open a “not conventional popup shop” called Putìa in Newrybar, officially opening on November the 26th in a perfect Italian style. There is potential for the opportunity to have a small permanent retail space completely dedicated to the love for the Mediterraneo, and few collaborations with new artisans are in the process too.