This Artist Creates Ceramics Inspired By 80s Italian Design

Arianna De Luca’s contemporary ceramics are inspired by the Mediterranean and the 1980s.
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I fell in love with Arianna De Luca’s whimsical ceramics the second I stumbled upon them years ago. Their bright colors and friendly personalities reminded me of characters from Pixar (in particular the dancing desk lamp), I was just waiting for them to open their eyes and become animated. Born in a small town in Abruzzo, Arianna De Luca grew up between the beach and the countryside – two elements that influence her work. With a background in design and interior decor, and an appreciation for southern Italy’s ceramic traditions, she creates whimsical works of art that are functional and add a playful touch to any home.

At The Italy Edit, we love to spotlight creatives who fuse Italy’s timeless heritage and contemporary lifestyle, so we caught up with Arianna to learn about her background and the inspiration behind her imaginative designs.

How did you get into interior design and ceramics?

Throughout my career, I’ve had the chance to get involved in creative interior projects across Italy, South America and the UK, where I lived for almost 10 years. Since I grew up in a village very close to Castelli, a famous ceramic city in Abruzzo, so the idea of experimenting with the medium has always been in the back of my mind. I studied product design at university at ISIA in Rome (the first public design university in Italy) and finished my studies at Central Saint Martins in London. Then I jumped into interior design as soon as I started working.

When I returned to Abruzzo in 2018, I started shadowing local artisans to learn their methods. Initially, I used ceramics as a way to complement my interior projects: I created bespoke products and decorations that would enrich the spaces I designed with even more unique details. And as I began to develop my own aesthetic, my ceramic production took a life on its own. Then the pandemic came along and gave me more time to experiment with my art. I launched Folcloristica, my first ceramic collection, in May 2020.

Your work caught my eye years ago because your lamps and vases were so “friendly” and whimsical – I love your designs! How would you describe your style?

Thank you! I am very happy you define my art as “friendly” as that was what I had in mind while working on the designs. I wanted to create characters of a story, each one with its own personality, that could have a dialogue with different characters and also with the user.

My style is very spontaneous, so it’s difficult for me to describe. I’d say the key words for my style are: fresh, bold, cheerful, and of course, Mediterranean. I really want to communicate my own interpretation of the Mediterranean aesthetic through each of my ceramic collections.

Where do you find inspiration?

My main source of inspiration is the Mediterranean landscape, its culture and its artistic heritage – with a focus on Italy’s ceramic legacy. I do a lot of research into traditions, pop culture and Mediterranean artifacts as the starting point for creative explorations and concept development. In particular, I love ceramics from Vietri sul Mare on the Amalfi Coast — their themes and colors often appear in my own work.

I’m also inspired by the Italian design from the 1980s (the Memphis Milano group founded by Ettore Sottsass and the design icon Alessandro Mendini). All of my projects start with a mood board because I am very interested in communicating a specific mood, atmosphere and feel. Each creation is the result of a long process of visual research, and I like to research into related photographic projects. To name a few: La Dolce Via by Charles Traub, Destinazione Filicudi by Giovanni Gastel, Ciao by Mario Testino, See Naples and Die by Sam Gregg.

I also have a huge archive of architectural details, texture and palettes I’ve photographed throughout Italy and the Mediterranean.

When you’re not in your studio, where can we find you hanging out in Rome?

I live and work in Pigneto, so it is easy to spot me around here. I often stop for a glass of wine at Vigneto because they have a great selection, or Sottobosco for its vibe and friendly owners. I also LOVE Pastorie because its Abruzzese cuisine reminds me of home.

When I want to get away from the city, I walk along Via del Mandrione and and get lost in the aqueduct. I also spend a lot of time in Esquilino and Piazza Vittorio, which happen to be one of my favorites areas in Rome for their international flair. When in Esquilino, you can usually find me at Pasticceria D’Amore.

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