“While architecture and design nourish my rational side, true inspiration comes mainly from the plant world and literature.”
Alice Reina – Biancodichina founder
Porcelain is the main material used in your creations. Why did you choose this material? What do you like about it? We would love to know more about porcelain
Although I find myself including increasingly other materials, porcelain remains the predominant.
I do love it! I chose it almost immediately. Porcelain whiteness attracted me like a moth to a flame, and once I became familiar with its plasticity, I realized its limitlessness!
I love its translucency and can be baked without glazes. The smooth and silky surface of bone firing (i.e. at 1280 degrees and without glaze) is seductive and a pleasure to touch.
There are many interesting facts about porcelain! For example, did you know that during the drying and firing processes its volume decreases by 14% or even 18% ? That’s a lot!
But what’s more fascinating for me it’s the time during the process! Those who do this job know that satisfaction is not instantaneous. It’s all about waiting; the process takes long, the steps are many, and during each of these phases, the object transforms, approaches its maturity and, at times, cracks or breaks. In short, only after days or weeks you can breathe a sigh of relief and finally enjoy the result of so much work! Porcelain has taught me to be patient and a bit fatalistic.
You should never ask a mom to pick her favorite child, but if you had to pick your best product, which one would you choose? And why?
Hmm…it’s hard to pick a favourite! Let’s just say “a favourite” is the vases from the Steli collection. The collection is vast and they are all a bit different since they are all handmade but with common characteristics. I really see them as a botanical species, maybe one of those belonging to the Parallel Botany that Leo Leonni talks about in his beautiful book!
Of the Steli family, I really love the groups: miniature landscapes in themselves, but ready to welcome flowers, leaves, branches and anything that can form a personal home garden.
Your creations have an extreme delicacy! Please, take us into the workshop and tell us how you make a Vis à Vis cup.
Thanks! Of course, gladly! It’s not easy to work with such thin porcelain, and the delicacy has to be in your hands first. You can not work if you are nervous, in short! The Vis à Vis, then, are entirely handmade, without the help of any kind of support or mould. They are made from a rectangle of porcelain that I roll out to a thickness of 2 mm, and then I fold it to form the body and the “legs”. After that, it’s all in a few steps: a thin strip and one or two slits and voila: two essential elements are enough to transform a cylinder into a face!
During the entire process, of course, you have to consider that I’m handling a cold and soft surface without squeezing it, holding and turning it without exerting any pressure, etc. All my moving have to be symmetrical gestures to not encourage deformation… it’s a slow process and almost a meditation exercise for me, considering it takes about an hour to make a pair of Vis à Vis.
What inspires you for your collections? Is there something from Torino in your products?
While architecture and design nourish my rational side, true inspiration comes mainly from botany and literature.
I love plants not only for their physical characteristics but especially for their silent tenacity and unparalleled ability to adapt. They transmit strength to me. Moreover, they can (re)give grace and beauty to the most tortured of places with their mere presence. If this is not Art…
From texts, instead, I absorb concepts and words. I mostly read novels and poems, especially contemporary ones. Sometimes, a term sticks in my head, and I think about it for days or months. When that happens, I consider that word as a seed (and we’re back to plants) that, sooner or later, will turn into something.
And then you asked me about my city… Turin, a city with no ceramic tradition, has always been very appealing to me because of its rigorous architectural and urban layout, softened by explosions of urban greenery. I’ve never really thought about it, but I believe that the uniformity of the streets in the centre, the graphic and rhythmic alternation of light and shadow of the arcades and its general atmosphere of calm and elegant balance have spontaneously become part of my work.