omegranate, Pomace, Cream, Coffee, Cinnamon, Face powder, Cameo... They are all evocative names that sound nice and that bring to mind ancient lands and natural moods. According to Matteo Brioni, they represent the colours of the earth and evoke a furnace in the surrounding fields of Gonzaga as well as a story that spans four generations.
"The land is a part of everybody's past," explains Matteo Brioni, "but particularly of mine”. In fact, this story focuses on the land, places, family, long tedious winters spent in the Po Valley and on thick fog and change as well. "Growing up in Gonzaga surrounded by history, fields and clay quarries potentially impacts the choices you make", Matteo recalls, "especially if you spend most of youth surrounded by a late 19th century industrial building that looks like a farm". In fact, the Fornace Brioni in Gonzaga dates back to 1920, a time when its strength lay in the bricks, although it wasn’t until 2010 that Matteo Brioni, a restless soul with a passion for clay, decided to break from tradition, moving away from brick manufacture to concentrate on the pure material. Right from the start, Matteo asserts himself as a creative thinker who is ahead of the times and anticipates the trend too - raw earth to be precise – at the time largely unknown. Besides, the fact that he decided to begin his journey in partnership with Marialaura Rossiello of Studio Irvine was decisive in instantly crystallizing his identity as a leading name in interior design.
From plaster in raw earth to massive earthenware floors and clay paintings, everything at Brioni talks the language of archetypal, pure form. Raw earth is a material with ancient origins and it’s sustainable, hypoallergenic and healthy too. Besides, the meticulous selection of pigmented clays is at the heart of Brioni’s manufacturing process: 14 natural colours, extracted from different types of earth according to a traditional technique from the Mantua region. But it is "its sensual and natural beauty, pleasant to the touch and able to adapt to any surface" – Matteo illustrates - that transforms raw earth into a truly noble and timeless material.
In fact, the brand’s 'genius loci' identifies with the material’s authenticity as well as the furnace’s dusty yard, in which large bags of clay create a velvety, pervasive path, an atmosphere that evokes timeless feelings. Integral to the local memory these references are combined with quality craftsmanship and the creativity of contemporary designers, who have gradually formed a close partnership. Beginning from a standard colour-palette, Matteo Brioni's workshop translates the language of architects, interior designers and artists and creates the perfect clay mix for every project: the imperceptible traces left by the craftsmen produce the final effect and confers to the surface an uneven, unique texture, with unpredictable textures and decorations.
Clay’s primeval force, the oldest material in the world, is shaped into a new stylistic vocabulary that doesn’t deny having an emotional side, emphasizing it nonetheless: this is why Matteo Brioni keeps alive the traditional knowledge that’s intrinsically linked to the locality, repeating with the same meticulous precision the gestures of the Renaissance craftsmen at the court of the Gonzaga family. Besides, this is enhanced by the artistic interpretation typical of a creative thinker.