Cipria: The trick of colour

Cipria: The trick of colour

My first memory of face powder comes from the distant past or more precisely, from my grandmother's dressing table, where pride of place went to the typical container with its silver top and the traditional pink cotton wool balls used for applying makeup.

Matteo Brioni's textured clay plaster TerraEvoca 2 Layers Cipria (powder color) applied on walls in a private apartment in Verona, project by Emanuele Soldi
Matteo Brioni's textured clay plaster TerraEvoca 2 Layers Cipria (powder color) applied on walls in a private apartment in Verona, project by Emanuele Soldi

This object already represented feminine beauty in itself and contained an ancient and delicate powder. Cipria is also the latest colour in the catalogue created for Matteo and it was tested for the first time in the renovation of a farmhouse in Tuscany, where Mikael Jansson and his wife Lotta lived: in this case, we started with Cipria and then “dirtied” it with layers of Vinaccia and Melograno. This was a one-off bespoke project, specially developed through dedicating great attention to colours and light in a choice dictated by the need to match Mikael's great photographic sensitivity. The work, developed together with Matteo Brioni's Research Office, would later prove to be extremely complex, so much so that at times it seemed never-ending.

Matteo Brioni's fine-grained clay finishing plaster TerraVista Smooth Cannella and Cipria colors applied on walls for DAWN Three Days od Design exhibition, 2019, Copenhagen by Spatial Code and Linda Weimann
Matteo Brioni's fine-grained clay finishing plaster TerraVista Smooth Cannella and Cipria colors applied on walls for DAWN Three Days od Design exhibition, 2019, Copenhagen by Spatial Code and Linda Weimann

Each room had its own different dominant colour, which united the finishing of the walls with the colours of the doors and windows. Thus we understood that the raw earth tone would need a scratched, dirtier and “bad” hue to stay in harmony with the character of the interiors and the surrounding landscape of the Val d'Orcia, which the farmhouse overlooked. On a personal level, the project also allowed me to develop a precise approach regarding colour in a clear contrast to the fashion that was then in vogue in interior design: a passion for soft and delicate colours (and above all a horrible pinkish red, which you could see everywhere). It may be just a personal habit, but I have always been against following dominant trends, or choices overly dictated by a certain style. In this case the inclusion of bright red into the mix instead generated a material effect which transformed the original colour into a deeper, more royal shade, with an accented almost three-dimensional effect.

Matteo Brioni's fine-grained clay finishing plaster TerraVista Smooth Cannella and Cipria colors applied on walls for DAWN Three Days od Design exhibition, 2019, Copenhagen by Spatial Code and Linda Weimann
Matteo Brioni's fine-grained clay finishing plaster TerraVista Smooth Cannella and Cipria colors applied on walls for DAWN Three Days od Design exhibition, 2019, Copenhagen by Spatial Code and Linda Weimann

The heart of this transformation was a technique known as Wabi-Sabi, which revolves around the search for beauty linked to imperfection and the incompleteness of natural things. This quality would go on to give its name to Terra Wabi, an entire line of raw earth finishes which in addition to Cipria, also contains Vinaccia, Cameo and Pomegranate, the most striking of all. Four different colours from four different lands and places and which I have applied on several occasions, even combining them. In the transformation from the feminine word “cipria” or “face powder” and the masculine “Cipria” a gender change occurs which is not limited to the change from one material to another, or from one context of “cosmetic” application to another. Seen from this point of view, Cipria resembles the classic eighteenth-century “greasepaint”, or the “beautifying” of so many of today’s television personalities. When makeup is applied in layers, its effect becomes total, covering the face so much that it almost changes its identity.

Matteo Brioni's fine-grained clay finishing plaster TerraVista Smooth Cannella and Cipria colors applied on walls for DAWN Three Days od Design exhibition, 2019, Copenhagen by Spatial Code and Linda Weimann
Matteo Brioni's fine-grained clay finishing plaster TerraVista Smooth Cannella and Cipria colors applied on walls for DAWN Three Days od Design exhibition, 2019, Copenhagen by Spatial Code and Linda Weimann

When I develop identity projects for a brand, first of all I identify its main characters; keywords through which the company has to express itself. At a certain point in the process, I leave out the detailed business history and proceed outward, metaphorically speaking. By getting involved with a pre-existing business culture, art direction is always conducted hand in hand with the company; the designers must above all aim to orient it towards a different project. The entrepreneur is usually a figure immersed in his own world who almost never gives himself time to look outside. To use a somewhat abstract image, the rebranding process makes it possible to step outside the box, thereby allowing the brand to reposition itself inside. In some ways, each firm looks a bit like a cotton wool powder ball when it comes out of its box.

Stratigraphy of different materials by Matteo Brioni in shades of Cipria (powder) color, design by Studio Irvine, photo by Marco Cappelletti
Stratigraphy of different materials by Matteo Brioni in shades of Cipria (powder) color, design by Studio Irvine, photo by Marco Cappelletti

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