The Vernissage Project breaks away from the traditional grandeur of Italian jewelry in favor of a more organic approach to design. Based out of Milan, the project’s collaborating designers, Ilenia Corti and Matteo Mena, create one-off pieces that center on natural elements, while exploring both reality and fantasy. A unique approach to accessories and aesthetics, Vernissage Project draws inspiration from childhood memories, the forest and the life within—all with a surreal, whimsical touch.
Mena, a Marni shoe design vet, and Corti, a contemporary artist, stylist and accessory designer, have worked together on the Vernissage Project since 2007. No stranger to jewelry, Corti’s parents actually formed one of Italy’s leading companies in the industry, Santagostino Fine Art Jewelry. Not only do they support and deliver quality craftsmanship to Vernissage Project, but Corti was made artistic director there in 2002.
Each collection is like a chapter from a book, divulging the stories of survival, creatures and nature that emerge from their imaginations. Rendering animals, insects and their habitats in metals and stones, the Vernissage Project delivers pieces with a minutia of details: a burnished silver owl perched on a linked chain grasping fresh fish, a bronzed basket set on a pave of pink sapphires and diamonds carrying twin frogs. The latest collection, “The Dragonfly Collector,” features enamelled fireflies frozen on leaf and flowers and a rare limited edition brooch collection.
As its name contends, Vernissage Project puts as much effort and creativity into the presentation as in the design. With each collection, Mena and Corti capture the essence and inspiration on Super 8 film, which adds a raw and antique feel to the short stories played out. Masked villains and angelic heroines bear the gold cocoon rings covered with silver spiders, winged dragonfly pendants and beetled filigree cuff. Videos are often made in collaboration with an artist, with previous collaborators including Fauna Decay and Daniele Tribi.