Upon meeting Signora Millefiori the first time, one cannot help to be absolutely enchanted. She dazzles with unexpected colour and a very intricate personality. She seems to remain fresh and young at heart despite her very advanced age and her timeless grace, it is truly inspiring. I have been under her spell for quite a few years now and finally got up close and personal with her in this exclusive interview.
Thank you so much for making time for this interview Signora, I am quite the fan!
(Giggles) Ah, it is always a pleasure to meet with the new generation of lovers of glass! How wonderful to watch as each new era brings the same enthusiasm to understand glass mysteries!
You have been such a global inspiration for very a long time and people from different cultures and countries all seem to admire you so easily. How do you do that?
My dear, I think on a very essential level, people are not so very different from one another as they think. Most people respond to mixed colours as it visually stimulates the mind, and the same goes for complex patterns. If these are put together harmoniously it becomes like beautiful music to the eye and I think this is the winning combination that I offer.
Tell us a bit of your background and childhood?
Our family have an ancient Roman background but I grew up in Venice on the island of Murano. I was very close to my mother Rosetta and she was a major influence on who I am today. I am not exactly sure who my father was, but my mother used to just smile and say that perhaps I have many fathers. I quite like that idea! Due to engagements all over, I have been travelling all my life but most of my so-called fame is rooted in Venice. It is one of my greatest rewards to know that I have been so meaningful to the place I call home.
And then, forgive me, but there has been plenty of talk recently about your relationship with Senor Murrini. Are you still friends?
Oh yes, my dear Murrini. He is an old flame of mine and we used to be very close in the old Murano days. He still has a house or two in Italy, but now lives mostly in the US where he has been doing some amazing new work for the greater good of the glass families. He is not very COE (*see footnote) specific and I admire him for that. We are so similar in so many ways but I need to stay true to my name and essence. As the meaning of my name is a ‘thousand flowers’ and I am loved for this, I can only grow from these roots. Murrini has always been a bit more free-spirited which makes him so deliciously unpredictable. You have to love him too!
You still travel all over the world but our particular interest is your visits to the Southern tip of Africa. We understand you have been a regular visitor to the Glass Roots studio?
Oh yes, I just love them. I am always received with such jubilant excitement and treated with such care and kindness, I cannot help coming back. We spend hours together in that magnificent studio overlooking the forest and I am always amazed at the creative balance between classical designs and new innovation. And what I really appreciate, is the deep respect they show being in my presence even though they are surrounded by other more contemporary and trendy COE* families as well.
What are your plans for the immediate future? Do you have any new projects you are working on?
It seems the future at this stage is a bit hazy all over the planet. Over the centuries I have learnt to not to look too far ahead and rather stay true to who you are meant to be in that moment. I think this has contributed to my longevity. I will continue to work with Glass Roots for some time as they are planning a few new projects that I would love to be involved in and after all, it does make sense for a Millefiori to be in the Garden of Eden! (laughs).
You are so precious! Thank you for your time and I hope you will continue to enchant us all for centuries more to come!
Grazie mille carro, che Dio ti benedica. (kisses on both cheeks).
* COE: Coefficient of Expansion - each 'family' of glass has a different ratio for expanding and contracting during a heating process and so the glass cannot be mixed but the techniques can be transferred.
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We have all had the discussion of what to take when your house is about to burn down. Today, one month ago on 6 and 7 June 2017, Knysna and the surrounding areas saw one of the biggest natural disasters in South Africa in living memory and there I was, facing this reality. Not a dinner party discussion, but packing my bags for real. It was a rather pleasant relief to realise that in the decision-making moment, few things really matter.