We recently caught up with Valentina Micòl Carnevali – is a set designer and still life photographer – to take how she maintains a certain calmness of minimalism in her creations. Constantly challenging objects and surroundings, she focuses her practice on colour and material experimentation and combination. Her temperament echoes in her playful and colourful work while she is in constant search for new forms of expression.
Hi Valentina! Could you tell the readers a bit about yourself and what you do?
Hello everyone! I am a set designer. And for me, experimentation is vital.
I like constant change and can never stand still . I am curious about and interested in everything – especially things I don’t know. I see myself approaching different artistic languages and forms. After graduating from academy, I worked in theatre, cinema and TV. When the pandemic hit, I was forced to stay home without a job, as did many of my colleagues. To be honest, I didn’t blame the reclusion too much at the beginning, rather I was able to dedicate myself to what I love most – invent props and work on materials. It was exciting and liberating to experiment with what I had available around me. It was not necessary to produce something perfect for others, but to give myself the time to make mistakes and surprise myself with the constant-changing results. This is simply a priceless pleasure for me! This is exactly how I started with photography. It was more for the purpose to document trial and error and to build unique world that I created on my own.
How would you describe your style to someone who’s never seen it?
Minimalism is my photography style. It is playful and colourful. I prefer to use waste materials and forgotten objects. Botanical elements are often the main subjects.
“Set designer” is one of your job descriptions – and a very interesting one. What is the process when you create a set story for a photoshoot? And talk us through the process of setting up a studio shoot.
The process leading to the creation of the set is the most exciting and mysterious part of all. For me, it is like meditation. I am often surrounded with chaos but everything makes sense on some parts of the blank cardboard. It is part of my work and nature that I tend to surround myself with objects especially those that tell a story. I like to catalogue them and think that sooner or later they will be useful for something beautiful. I hardly ever draw drafts of what I’m going to shoot. I go with my instincts and let myself carried away by the shapes and colours of what I have around me. It often happens that everything stays motionless for days before I would be able to find the element that completes the composition. Where there is harmony, I go into ecstasy. It is a moment of pure enjoyment.
Your work is brimming with exquisitely polished photographic work and still life compositions created for high-profile clients and personal projects alike. How has your unique point of view evolved since the beginning of your career? As a creative, how do you manage to stay current?
My style has changed considerably over the years. It is more refined now and I am thirsted for beauty. It literally feeds on everything that incites the senses from art to design and typography, from the creations of my artisan friends to independent magazines, from theatre to cinema and performance, new technologies and materials of the future.
What would you say you’re looking to achieve with your photography?
For me, photography is an essential research and storytelling tool that allows me to express what I would not be able to communicate in words. It is also a fundamental work tool as I consider it one of the best ways to show my creations to the world.
I would also like to establish a network of connections and collaborations with other creatives around the world who love to experiment.
Check out Valentina Micòl Carnevali’s work here.