Heart Studio is the multidisciplinary design consultancy of Bruno Savona and Martina Silli. Their signature style consists of an unusual interaction between the manual and the digital, the instinctual and the precise, the spontaneous and the meticulous. They are based in Santadi, Sardinia.
Who is Heart Studio and how did it start?
Heart Studio began in Treviso, Italy, back in 2009 when I (Bruno) and Martina started our relationship, both professional and romantic. We both grew up in Sardinia, in Sulcis, an area in the South-West of the Island and, as many young people here, moved to the North of Italy to study and work. I have a background in communication design and Martina is an illustrator. Since after we met it felt natural to collaborate professionally, and here we are still.
Where does your creative direction come from? And how has it developed?
Hardcore music – we’ve both always been into it! When we set up Heart Studio most of our clients were hardcore bands. We designed and produced a range of works for them, particularly screen-printed posters and limited-edition packaging. It’s through those projects that we learned a lot about paper and techniques and developed a style very much inspired by that scene. As we then gradually moved away from that world, our creative direction evolved too. We started getting involved in different types of projects, working with new levels of complexities. Our aesthetics now is the result of this development.
In 2016 you moved back to Sardinia. How has your relationship with this place been since then?
After many formative years in the North of Italy, we wanted to apply what we had learned there to our new professional life here. The main reason for this choice was that simply we were homesick. We loved our life in Treviso, but it never really felt like home. With the time, having to say goodbye to Sardinia after a holiday started becoming more and more painful. It was time for us to move back home.
Also, Sulcis, where we grew up, is one of the poorest areas of Italy and with the highest percentage of aging population. We couldn’t keep watching this decline from distance, we needed to come back and try to change things.
We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, especially professionally, but after 2 and a half years here we can say we are happy of this choice. We are based in Santadi, a tiny village of 3000 people in Sulcis. It’s at a few steps from the beautiful Pantaleo and Gutturu Mannu woods, and at 1-hour drive from Cagliari, Sardinia’s capital city. Living so close to nature and in sync with seasons has been amazing, and beneficial to our creative process. We love our lunch-break strolls at Pantaleo!
What is Heart Studio business model? How can a creative project in Sardinia to be economically sustainable?
When we decided to move back to Sardinia, we started thinking what of Heart Studio needed to change in order to keep going and be sustainable in the new context. Therefore we set up three different strands:
Commissions: as a multidisciplinary design studio we work with a range of clients on a commission basis. Along with consultancy, we offer a wide range of services from concept development, branding, graphic design, illustration to textile design and exhibition design. Our aim is to make works that provoke emotions.
Learning: we develop and run a series of workshops on our key areas of expertise – graphic design, illustration and print. We are really happy about our collaboration with Museo Nivola in Orani, where we’ve run several screen-printing workshops. We also work with Fallani Venezia, an historic artist screen-printing workshop that was set up in 1968 in Venice. There we’ve had the amazing opportunity to talk about Sardinian traditional patterns and how those can be applied to screen-printing techniques. It’s been very important for us to be able to present our tradition in a place like Venice, and to see many students and designers from ISIA of Urbino and IUAV of Venice interested in our work. We also teach design in some art schools in Cagliari.
Limited editions: we produce limited-edition screen prints on paper and textile. Lately we have been working on a small collection of hand printed scarves. We have been really careful with the choice of fabric to make them as we wanted it to be ethically sustainable. So far we have been opting for polyester and cotton muslin, which are great as they also allow us to keep the costs down and sell the scarves at an affordable price. Moving forward we are looking to use a range of ethically produced silks.
What is your vision for the future? Any plans?
We are pretty optimistic about the future. Although it hasn’t been easy, we are happy where we’ve got so far with Heart Studio. Without really realising it, we’ve gone a long way with the project. We are recognised in the sector. Our plans are to keep improving and learning. We believe that professional development is key both for the artistic and the business side of our practice. Currently we are planning to invest on workshop and printing production facilities that will allow us to develop our work further.