Put together two creative minds, two families working in the marble sector from 3 generations and tons of scraps of what is considered by the most the white Carrara gold. Here the summary of how Bloc Studios was born.
Sara Ferron Cima and Massimo Ciuffi: two partners with a lateral thinking, have succeeded in creating a network of opportunities, relaunching this timeless material through an initial work of recycling and contemporary rethinking. A thousand-year-old stone that is fascinating but at the same time robust and difficult, able to give us unique pieces with a sophisticated geometrical cleanliness and a personal history made of different veins and colors.
The winning collaborations of Bloc over the years have not been lacking. To name a few: The Voz – Choquet, Sabine Marcelis, Carl Kleiner, Nick Ross, Valentina Cameranesi and Objects of Common Interests. This year the objects presented in Milan (Alcova) were among the most photographed and appreciated of fuorisalone and reported among the best-of by many magazines, on and offline, including the Times.
We met Sara who told us more about her and about how the brand was born.
Sara tells us more about yourself…
I was born and raised in Italy by a Taiwanese mother. Until some time ago I used to visit Taiwan with her at least once a year because of my uncles. Although I have learned Mandarin I have always wanted to deepen my eastern side and for this reason I chose to study Languages Markets and Cultures of Asia in Bologna and then continue my studies at JiaoTong University in Shanghai. My education is halfway between the humanistic/linguistic and the economic one but I have always had a great passion for everything concerning art in the broad sense: art as a language that can be communicated through a sculpture, an architecture or a photograph
When and how was BLOC STUDIOS born?
In September 2014 my partner Massimo and I founded the brand and in April 2015 we presented our first collection at Fuorisalone. If I think about how we conceived the brand and how we started our journey, I realize how much passion and effort we have invested.
We did not have a big budget, we were supported by the respective family firms but we always tried to do everything with “a hoof and a slipper” (it’s an Italian way to say: put together two things that have nothing to do with each other), from the registration of the brand to the realization of the first prototypes and the campaign shots. From the beginning, the intent has always been to collaborate on a creative level with people who reflect our artistic direction and with realities able to understand our needs.
What type of characteristics should the people who work with you have?
The only thing that makes the real difference for us is being able to work with people we value and the thing that unites all our choices in terms of collaboration and business partnerships is the genuineness of human and interpersonal relationships. I must say that for now we have always been lucky!
So esteem and genuineness. It seems a choice dictated by instinct.
The choice is pure “gut”. I like to collaborate with designers, artists or photographers who are able to transmit something strong through their work and that are constant in this intent. Surely my aesthetic direction leads me to collaborate with people in line with my tastes but usually, I do not put any kind of limit in the choice when it comes to being able to create something that really convinces me. The process that goes from the idea to the realization of the object can take place in a week or in a year. With some designers we begin a dialogue that can last months and months until we find what we like and only then we pause and deepen.
From the New York Times to Wallpaper, this year you are among the ” best of ” of the fuorisalone. What effect does it make you?
I’m flattered that such names we have selected among their “the best of”, if I think of our first presentation in the offices of our friends of Alla Carta, interested visitors of those days could count on a pair of hands!
Can you tell us more about your latest AVALON, TOTEM and INLAY projects we saw at Alcova?
They are three separate projects, with totally different briefs and designed by authors who come from 3 very distant realities.
It was a long time since I wanted Bloc to approach a more organic and anthropomorphic world and the idea of developing the first step of this journey with Valentina Cameranesi was fantastic because she does not have an industrial designer approach, as he can have for example Nick Ross (INLAY) or how they can have the Objects of Common interest (TOTEM). She is totally and deliberately unrelated to certain technical dynamics. She’s crazy (in a good way) as are her ceramic vases or her latest blown glass creations. There are no limits to the lines and the forms she has in mind to achieve. The 3 vases we developed with her are inspired by the marine world. You would not say that the Clelia vase is a fish but then everyone can see what they want (laughs)
I’ve known her since the beginning of Bloc because together with her colleague Enrico Pompili supported us by proposing our objects for editorials and photo sets taken care of by them. But the real approach to her as a designer / possible collaboration with Bloc was in 2017 at the Pin Up and Chamber party (in which she was an organizer). His feet were swollen and we shared a taxi at the end of the evening. Everything was born from there.
Nick was also our supporter from the beginning. I really admire his work with marble and spray paint. Over the years we have tried to work together but the right time was not yet arrived. My brief was: ” I would like to develop tables with slabs ”, and a week later we already had the 3 finalists.
Leonidas and Eleni have always been more or less in our sights and we were in them. Last year, when we were on the terrace of Martina Gamboni (with the Posture Vases by Carl Kleiner and the Voie Lights by Sabine Marcelis) we had a small meeting and after a couple of proposals at the end the Totem hit us. Within a few days we found ourselves with one more object.
The Timing of the 3 projects was totally random but in the end we decided to present them at the same time this year trying to mix the choice of marble and find a simple but homogeneous scenery.
If you had to condense the story of your life into 3 objects which would you choose?
I’m not attached to any object in particular and tend to be careless so I can hardly condense my life to 3 objects. Usually with the objects I have crashes that last at most a year: this year, for example, was the year of Redwings shoes, I brought them all winter. Now only New Balance 991 until I start going to the sea I really care about a painting by Giuseppe Restano that I bought a couple of years ago and a 50s bookstore that I inherited from my grandmother and a watch that belonged to my great-grandmother and that we passed down from generation to generation.
Can you indicate some artist name that is not in the radar of your future collaborations (which I imagine is top secret) with which you would like to collaborate, even hypothetically?
I would like to expand my collaborations with more artists than designers and not limit myself too much in the choice. To give you some hypothetical name I would say Anish Kapoor that I adore or Chloe Sevigny to whom I would entrust the artistic direction of some objects
Your must-have piece in the history of design?
I really like the Martinelli Cobra lamp, the Wassily chair by Breuer, the DSW by Eames, the Ultrafragola mirror by Sottsass, the Hiroki table for E5 by Mainzer .. I could go on (smile).