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Some places are filled with love in every single detail and that is more than true for Trullo Nostrano. This beautiful Apulian trulli (traditional Apulian dry stone hut with a conical roof) is nestled in the hills of the Itria valley in Puglia and has been lovingly restored and kept by Walter and Nadiya for over 15 years. Every single curtain, decoration, artwork, stone and plaster wall has passed through their hands to create an atmosphere that is unapologetically personal.
Which is no coincidence, given that the creative duo has their own studio in the white-clad town of Cisternino. Here, they work with natural materials, light and forgotten techniques. I was invited to visit them there, which came with the added perk of driving with the car windows down on a hazy afternoon, making sharp bends through winding roads lined with the peculiar cone-shaped farmhouses Puglia has become so famous for – the warm air swaying with the smell of ripe figs and limestone.
• Hi Nadiya and Walter, thank you for having me over in the studio. After seeing your work at Milan Design Week, I have been dreaming of getting to know more of your universe. For those who do not know, you are the minds and hands behind Trullo Nostrano, but you are first and foremost makers at NÙEVÙ, your very own design studio.
Hi Sara, thank you for being with us. It was beautiful to discover The Loft and we are so honoured to be interviewed by you.
We are Nadiya Yamnych from Ukraine and Walter Espedito Trento from Puglia. Sharing slow living in the magical Valley of Trulli. We define ourselves as multidisciplinary artists. In the past we worked in visual and performance art, painting and sculpture. Today we are NÙEVÙ which means WE AND YOU in the dialect of Cisternino.
• So Puglia is really at the heart of what you do. Walter already had part of his roots here but how did you meet?
You could say it’s all the fault of the ‘mother dough’, since it is really sourdough that influenced our getting together. We met ten years ago during a performance at Pastamadre – an art performance that used dough as a medium – which was taught by Walter at the time. It took place in Europe in 2009 and was meant as a New Ritual for a planet in crisis.
Once ‘the ferment worked and the bread was baked’ – as they say around here – we decided to base ourselves in Puglia; to come back to the place where our journey really started. It was not so difficult to choose Cisternino as our home base. Walter was born here, then traveled to return back to this place – a place with incredible energy and beautiful people from all over the world. It seems to be a land that lays in another dimension, with its own rhythms and rules. A place with a landscape and architecture so unique that they transport you to the fascinating past.
• When, why and how did you start working together?
The dream of a home that could respect our needs and feelings, brought us to this long and beautiful journey! Starting with the restoring of our trulli house and trying to keep its original charm. It’s what we we call anima, anemos (wind, breath). To preserve our trulli we approached the project with respect, as a trulli house is not only a beautiful cone-shaped dry-stone building, but it is a landscape; a harmony and equilibrium between many elements. Our house became our perfect workshop and, in some ways, the nursery of new projects and dreams. This renovation was the way we started to work together and it was also our first shared project.
• How did you decide to start NÙEVÙ? Can you tell us a bit more about the studio and the space?
Our love for raw materials and antique techniques led us to architectural design. And, after working together for 5 years, we decided to really give form to our work.
So in 2016 we founded our studio, NÙEVÙ, which became a perfect vessel for our dreams and passions. But also a space where we give a new shape and concept to the beautiful past, present and future. We work in architectural and interior design, bringing together a wide variety of elements and objects to meet the needs of each unique space. We design, re-develop and set up places to live and to be. While we open spaces for the light to shine through, we also draw with the light and make objects that make light.
“Here is the light… let it shine..”
Our studio space is an antique horse’s stable, that we restored 3.5 years ago. It is situated in the medieval part of Cisternino that faces the Itria valley. The signs and layers have overlap each other in its architecture; that was something that touched us more than any other thing when we first saw this space.
• Your work is composed of natural materials, ancient techniques. How come?
We apply ancient techniques and natural materials, taking into account contemporary feelings and needs. We work with the technique of ‘cocciopesto’ (opus signinum) for floorings, plasters, and timeless objects. It stems from the times of Phoenicia and was largely used in Ancient Rome. It consists of tiles and pottery, broken up into very small pieces, tempered with lime and given a new life through letting the paste harden naturally. Cocciopesto is the perfect symbol of slow living, we have been fascinated by this material for its aesthetics and that incredible feeling of beautiful imperfection.
“Slow down, and respect life…”
The raw materials we work with have the common characteristic of ecological sustainability, or a closed and reusable cycle of life. These materials are not harmful to the environment nor to humans. Produced in a natural way, they can be easily processed and moulded, are in most cases resistant and long lasting and are completely reusable. For accurate finishing we use linseed oil and waxes, soaps, oxides and earths. Unique pieces.
• Natural colours and materials seem to be important in your wok, is that a conscious choice?
Everything we create is composed of soils, lime, stones, mortar, clay, ceramics, metal, paper, fabrics, ropes, plants, flowers and seeds. It’s a conscious choice, led by our instinct, that fully respects our way of living and our aesthetic.
Our proposal with natural materials is not a stylistic revival operation, but the result of the philosophy of creating healthy and ethically made objects. Objects that make us dream. Objects that make us think. Objects and finishes that bring to life feelings linked to nature.
• Does the landscape, nature or community in Puglia have an impact on your work?
It is something you cannot avoid. The light and the landscape you experience every day in some way become part of you. People, mentality, political situations and relationships are some of many elements that of course influence our life. It’s a beautiful land, but as anywhere else all over the world it’s also important to keep a critical mind and stay conscious – be human – in order to have a deeper understanding of the situation we live in and how our activity influences the life of others.
It’s all about respect.
• Any big inspirations?
Ah… probably ‘a gift of life’ as a never-ending inspiration and our guiding principle is Wunian: living and being happy.
• Any word of advice for any artists or designers out there?
When the child was a child, it didn’t know that it was a child, everything was soulful, and all souls were one. (Peter Handke)