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Article: Heart Studio : Small Village, Big Heart

Heart Studio : Small Village, Big Heart

Heart Studio : Small Village, Big Heart

An interview with Sardinia’s Heart Studio, the design couple behind our Isola Eterna capsule.

Quite often, designers, architects and artists feel the need to be in bustling, major cities to have a finger on the pulse of what’s in fashion or on trend. Bruno Savona and Martina Silli, the talented design duo behind Heart Studio said “goodbye to all that” and after years in a city on mainland Italy, decided to switch gears and create a multidisciplinary design studio in a small, little-known village in southern Sardinia. With a variety of clients from art and cultural bureaus to local village cheesemakers, Bruno and Martina prefer the slow life and as Bruno put it, “A shepherd’s day is a lot different than an architect’s.” And the two are fascinated by the shepherd’s story. Roark was lucky enough to have Heart Studio design a very special capsule from our Sardinia journey, and in the following, Bruno and Martina give us Heart’s origin story, and go into some of the hidden details and symbology of the pieces they created for Roark.

Roark: How did Heart Studio come to be?

Bruno: We had a design studio in Trevino, near Venice, Italy, before this and were doing a lot of work for the hardcore music scene of Europe. We were screen printing t-shirts and posters for the bands and we worked with them for a lot of years. Then in 2016 we decided to come back to our home here in Sardinia after being gone for nearly 20 years. Sardinia is where we were both born and raised.

So yeah, we both played punk and hardcore music. Martina was in band since she was 14. In the hardcore scene a lot of designers are musicians and vice versa. We loved the scene and started as designers there, but it’s hard to make a living. It’s more of a passion and was a beautiful time in our lives. We were young and against society.

Martina: Always. [laughs]

Bruno: We also designed for a streetwear brand called Lobster out of Venice. But with Heart Studio, we intentionally chose to stay in a little village called Santadi, close to the mountains and the sea, totally refusing to live in Cagliari, which is the biggest city of Sardinia. It’s rural here in Santadi, a lot of shepherds, very wild, and not much tourist infrastructure compared to the north of the island.

When we came back here, though, we started to think about the change of our job. It wasn’t so simple to just work for hardcore bands and make a living [laughs]. It’s not sustainable and a smart economic choice. But we were in contact with a lot of cultural museums and theaters and now we work with them a lot.

Martina: Our clients are pretty varied. We work for the arts and cultural spaces, but also for gastronomic spaces, too, like a small cheesemaker or a local wine producer. We love brands with a traditional, rural approach.

Bruno: Our approach is pretty similar to the traditional approach in Sardinia, too, which is a lot of handmade techniques, but mixed with some digital and computer graphic design. There’s always a strong connection to the place where we live. The cheesemaker we work with, for instance, uses no industrial machines, just by hand, and he asked us to create a visual identity connected to the handmade signs on the roads that mark archeological sites.

Martina: The clients around here appreciate the handmade approach and aesthetic. I love doing ceramics and that’s a big part of the cultural and tradition here, too.

That’s super interesting how you guys moved away from the city and chose to base in a small village. Often, it’s the other way around for artists these days…

Bruno: Yeah, we love this slow, normal life here. We have friends from every kind of job, shepherd friends, teacher friends… Back in Trevino, all of our friends were only designers and architects [laughs], which is cool, but the relationships are less spontaneous. We were always just talking about art or design, but here it’s different. You talk more about life. A shepherd’s day is a lot different than an architect’s.

Martina: It’s very important for us to stay here, because every day we walk in the woods. That’s incredible, you know?

Bruno: Yes, everyday we pause after lunch and we take a walk. Just five minutes from here are the biggest woods in Sardinia. Like, last month we were in Milan doing a job for Reebok for a few days. It was a really cool job, but after two hours we wanted to come home [laughs].

The people around here in Santadi are also more curious than in the cities. Probably because nothing happens for weeks and weeks, but we think that’s cool.

The biggest inspiration for us is actually our lifestyles. People might think that an artist likes to stay in the city for more stimuli or inspiration, but for us, we’re the opposite. It’s actually more fulfilling to take inspiration from the small stuff around us. Also, I love that people from the cities see the Nature as something romantic, but the people around here, they actually see the opposite [laughs]. They love the nature and mountains, but they understand how difficult those elements actually are when you live in them for a lifetime.

Awesome. Tell us about the capsule you did for Roark. It turned out really amazing…

Bruno: The stuff we did for Roark, it’s digital, but it always started with the handmade approach. There were sketches and photography, and it’s connected to these archeological places here in Sardinia. Old mining architecture and stairways, those were our main influences. There’s a super cool architectural site called Laveria Lamamora, which is an old mine built on sea cliffs and it’s so beautiful. For Roark, that place was in our mind during the process for this project. Also, an archeological place called Pozzo di Santa Cristina, it’s a cultural place on the island with a long stairway that goes into the earth with underground water and a subterranean cave.

Martina: Pozzo di Santa Cristina is a sacred place. It’s a site were ancient people used to do rituals to celebrate the moon. One day a year, like on the solstice, the light of the moon would hit the water there and create incredible mirroring.

Bruno: So, those places inspired us, the nature and architectural places that we love, but also the culture of traditional textiles and tapestries of Sardinia. The traditional textiles have a lot of geometric forms with triangles and squares. Sardinia is famous for a lot of traditional craftwork and art. You can see these stairways and arches in the capsule.

Martina: We used a lot of symbology for the Roark stuff from those archeological sites. The triangle, for example, those are representations of life. Long ago, humans were represented by triangles. The sun and stars have huge significance to the ancient Sardinians, too.

Amazing. Any other passions and hobbies you two have that keep the creative juices flowing?

Bruno: We love to trek. Martina is an expert of mushrooms, actually. We just love being in Nature. Camping and wild camping during summer. Really, though, we just love our work. We’re lucky because we were raised loving skate culture and skate designs and graphics, and now we’re doing that for a living. That’s amazing.

Martina: We love that we have artistic jobs connected to nature. We get to do art installations in museums and galleries that simulate nature and natural settings. We are honored to get to do that.

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