Is Aresus, Italy – It’s hard to imagine a more metropolitan-minded couple. Kyre, originally from California, has worked in set design and creative direction in New York and Milan. While Ivano, a former graffiti artist who has collaborated with major international brands, once owned a clothing store in Italy’s fashion capital. So when they abandoned their urban lives and moved to a tiny village in Sardinia, their friends thought they were crazy. Six years later, Kyre and Ivano sit at the helm of Pretziada (‘precious’ in Sardinian) – a successful creative project that explores the particularities of the island they call home, with the mission of showcasing the excellence of local artisans in an innovative, modern way.
What made you want to move away from the city?
KYRE CHENVEN: Initially, it was very banal reasons such as more silence and a better quality of life as parents. But it was also the idea of a new start, and a slower rhythm that would give us time to reflect and think. We do love cities and all they can give, we just feel we get much more from them as visitors on vacation while living full-time in the country.
The interesting part was to develop a survival strategy. We’ve always lived in cities and worked in creative areas, so we knew we needed more from the countryside than just lavender plants and peace at night.
We had to find a way to blend country life with our metropolitan souls; a way to use all our skills, knowledge and interests and have them come together in one project. We realised that project was going to end up being our daily mission. We probably ‘work’ way more than we ever did in the city, but work is life and enjoyment now. That’s how Pretziada started.
Can you describe what Pretziada is about?
KC: We have one sentence on our business card that says: ‘Pretziada is an interdisciplinary project combining the worlds of design, journalism, photography, craftsmanship and tourism.’
In Sardinia there’s an incredible heritage of crafts that is not well known outside of the island. It was very home-based, with people making excellent products like tapestries, clothing and knives, all from their basements. You didn't buy things from other people; it was more about how good you could get at doing it yourself. There’s a strong personal sense of excellence.
The first step was to introduce Sardinia to the world. We started a journal talking about all the things that are particular to the island. From the very beginning the idea was to work with artisans and have designers come here and create something that was based on Sardinian life.
How has the rural surrounding influenced your creativity?
KC: I think you get to a certain age where you can find coolness in everything. Moving here was freeing because it removed all interference. You don’t have to be constantly reminded of what everybody else is doing. You can give the right weight and time to certain projects and be influenced by your natural aesthetic and interests, and that’s really refreshing. I don’t know if we could have done this 10 years ago. The silence that you gain helps you find your voice in a lot of ways.
IVANO ATZORI: In cities you have to deal with constant distractions and expectations. Those are probably the biggest limitations for the creative process. Most young people here are desperate to leave – they need to escape, they need contamination, and they need to be surrounded by crazy noise. We’d had enough. I think our minds and bodies were not able to take any more.
How did you adapt to life in the countryside?
KC: When we decided to move to the countryside almost everybody who knew us said, ‘this is crazy, you guys are out of your minds, Ivano is never going to survive.’ He was such an urban person to people. Nobody could wrap their head around the fact that he might be able to live somewhere outside of the city.
But one of the first things that we both realised was that when you have a difficult moment here you can just take a walk outside, or go to the beach for a swim. It may not get to the root of the problem, or change your existence, but it’s amazing to see how much you can calm yourself when you’re allowed to.
Frustration can disappear very quickly when you’re surrounded by silence, and it’s a total gift to have plants and animals around. I feel like when you’re in the city you constantly have to be protecting yourself against your surroundings in a way that you may not even recognise.
I think whether you’re happy living in the countryside has a lot to do with figuring out how you want to spend your free time. There are those who feel more comfortable spending their free time on a metro observing the people around them or distracting themselves. And then there are people who feel exhausted on that ride home because they feel they need some sort of physicality to their life that, in modern times, we just don’t have any more.