A contemporary design studio celebrates Italy’s cultural legacy

Stories of Italy

“Knowing who you have been is essential to imagine who you want to become.” This sentiment—which lives on the Stories of Italy  homepage—is at the very heart of the up-and-coming, Milan-based duo's worldview. The aptly named studio is devoted to creating contemporary designs that honor the country’s cultural heritage. Focusing primarily on everyday objects—think dishware, vases, and other tabletop pieces—the pair collaborates with skilled local artisans using quintessentially Italian materials and techniques to produce beautiful designs with an au courant attitude.

“We have established a strong relationship with artisans who consider their job a lifetime vocation,” says designer Dario Buratto. “Secular crafting tradition [is] hidden in their hands. With this approach, each object possesses a particular aura, enriched by traditional values and symbolism.”

Italian-born cofounders Matilde Antonacci and Dario Buratto first met as fashion design students at the Polimoda Institute in Florence in 2000. After school, the friends—who describe their relationship as “really rooted and easy”—moved to Milan, where they worked for years for a number of high profile fashion labels, including Helmut Lang, Acne Studios, Dsquared2, and others. But it wasn’t until 2015—after Antonacci’s career took her on frequent trips through London, Paris, and Stockholm, and Buratto spent a few years practicing and teaching yoga across Southeast Asia—that Stories of Italy was born. 

In fact, the studio is in many ways the result of the time the designers both spent outside Italy. As Buratto tells it: “Looking at Italy from a distant perspective, we realized how much potential our country still has to offer in terms of art, craft, and design. Big Italian brands—especially in fashion, food, and beverage—are already conquering new markets, but what about the small crafting masters? In the Far East, for example, people are really in love with these small Italian stories, but it's still hard for them to find them.”

“Matilde and I thought it would be great to create something starting from these reflections. We were exhausted by the fast rhythm of the fashion industry, and we fell in love with the idea of adventure inside traditional Italian workshops—of stepping back to slow, high quality products, which, in the end, is the essence of ‘Made in Italy.’ Stories of Italy is, in a certain way, about getting back to basics!”

Tempo Collection at the Ladies & Gentleman exhibition, Milan 2017 Image courtesy of Stories of Italy
The studio made its official debut in fabulous fashion at Salone del Mobile in 2015 under the patronage of Dame Vivienne Westwood. Since that not-so-distant time, Stories of Italy has launched several new designs and exhibited at events like the design festival Operae in Turin and as part of the 5Vie installation, Ladies and Gentlemen, at the most recent Salone del Mobile. Plus they’ve taken on commissions for clients like the Four Seasons in Florence. Among other objects, that Four Seasons gig included, quite wonderfully, 300 mouth-blown, Murano Bicchiere Ametista drinking glasses inspired by an ancient Roman cup dating back to the first century A.D. The glasses are, as of this writing, used daily in the Michelin-starred restaurant Il Palagio.

“We like to play with the rules,” Buratto says, “experimenting with materials and with our artisans' skills. Their work is a treasure that distinguishes Italy as one of the most unique countries in the world. With our work, we try to keep these traditions alive, giving them a place in modernity.” And the results—at once timeless and fresh—speak for themselves, each piece narrating, in its own small way, the history of its homeland.