Sara Ricciardi 5vie
Design,  Milano

The interview to Sara Ricciardi, designer at 5VIE

Sara Ricciardi tells about herself to MAM-e: “The daily travel, the one with ourselves and with others, is the most incredible one”.


Her vocation for storytelling, for the deeps and endless roads of narration is immediately clear. Sara Ricciardi, born in Benevento, but Milanese by adoption and action, is nowadays one of the most successful designer in the Italian scenario. She designs performances, installations and unique pieces for galleries, always with a strong narrative approach. Every aesthetic born starting from an accurate story. Sara Ricciardi describes it with a refined lightness, symptom of intensity.

Waiting for Design Week of September 2021, we asked Sara to reveal us something more about herself and her relationship with 5VIE: the cultural district born in order to relaunch the historic centre of Milan, through the design.

Her origins

Benevento is your native home, how is your relationship with that place today?

I am grateful to Benevento. That place gave me behavioural enthusiasm and made me appreciate low frequencies, the thinner and more intimate ones. Benevento is a sleeping city, a bit magic, a bit mystic. I brought those characteristics in my work, because everyone carries with them a luggage full of their own origins.

Witches tales, intriguing. What are you referring to?

The city was, for a long time, under the control of the Langobards. They reigned in Pavia and Benevento; a population believing in worships related to nature and trees. We live in gloomy context: the Irpinia is dark, the Sannio coat of arms presents a boar and trees, around which people gathered to make propitiatory cults to nature. Cults that would later be banned by Catholics. Moreover, as often happened in the inland communities, women took into custody the knowledge of herbs and medicine. Indeed, there are manuscripts reporting orders of the Pope to uproot a specific tree, the walnut of Benevento. You know, it is like always having ancestor recounting you their stories – Sara Ricciardi tells us.

Why do you define yourself as “camparda”?

After 13 years in Milan, you acquire a bit of ‘svizzeritudine’, as Sara calls it. In Campania, everything is dictated by fatalism and this is extraordinary. I love it at limitless levels. Nevertheless, always remaining in fatalism is like accompanying oneself to quicksand. On the contrary, Lombardy, and specifically Milan, has determined a more combative structure towards happening things, since not everything should be received as rain. Defining these two different parts is very important for me. I am glad for the strong presence of these two entities in me, of these two regions very influential for me – states Sara Ricciardi.

When they asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up, what did you answer?

If you have five hours, I have a long list of works because I changed my mind very often, according to the current hobby. The vet has been well-liked for a long time. Actually, few people asked me about it. It was not a frequent question; there has always been great freedom. Obviously, in the south of Italy, at the time, there were three possibilities: medicine, economics and law. According to the collective imagination, there was nothing more you could have done in order to gain a job.

So, the reaction at the word ‘artist’ was not the best one…

Actually, even my reaction at the word ‘artist’ it’s a bit like that (laughs)… It is an epithet you cannot acquire; it flows in the gurgling of everyone’s personal research.

Sara Ricciardi 5VIE
Sara Ricciardi and her installation Arcadia, created in occasion of the Furniture Expo 2018

…her way of interpret “the travel”, objects and meetings

Which one of your travels and your experiences made you grow the most? which one do you remember with more affection? There have been moments in which you though to leave this path?

Crisis moments are continuous. Today, I still live moments of crisis, luckily. These moments are the most precious thing I can have, because they allow me to reconstruct myself as woman, as designer and as studio. Furthermore, without moments of crisis, I would say, we risk to remain in a stagnant comfort-zone that do not allow us to create new stories. Crisis is due, is continuous and keep me active. I hope not to lose my enthusiasm, in order to think this way until the end.

Regarding travels, the daily travel is the most important for me. The travel with ourselves and with others. I do not crave for travel; I do not feel the absolute need to travel. Travel to find something is a palliative, in my opinion. The most incredible travel is the daily one, the ‘everyday’ you live with yourself and with others: each person is a travel. Obviously, visiting Tokyo will be very useful, but I think that the most powerful opening system is the person’s interior travel. Indeed, people make the astral and transcendental travel by themselves, in order to discover universes.

On your website, you talks about your fanatic collection of bizarre objects. for example?

In another life, I think, I had a wunderkammern. I collect everything. I love stones, feathers, shells… I continuously fall prey to material fascinations. I love everything. Each object has a history: I took it in a specific place, or I received it as gift in a determined manner… everything has a story, it’s up to you attribute one to it. We can say a do-it-yourself Animism. I have a notebook, bought during a travel to France, with a friend of mine. We decided to write down on it only our reciprocal aspirations and to become the ‘desires guardians’ of each other. Actually, it is only a notebook, but if you infuse it with the magic of meaning, it becomes an incredible place.

Among your collaborations, which one was particularly motivating?

Each project is preparatory to a discovery. It is like asking a parent which one of their children they prefer. However, if I have to choose, I would like to talk about the period I am living nowadays. I am working on the project of the Pataspazio, the studio we are in: it is a turning point. When you ha a studio, you become a group and you have to guide it with your ship’s wheel toward specific goals. Designing your own space, like it was the projection of your ideology, is something special. I can structure interiors and spaces according to a narration. How purpose and obsession, or logistic and vision, dialogue together? I really love designing these tensions.

Another turning point in my life was at the university. In that period, I started creating my works on the streets with a mobile stand that I built by my own. Street handcraft always amazed me and I wanted to go back to the city with our dreamlike flights, with the colour, the folklore and the sound. Therefore, I created HappyCarretto, a machine for making swings. The more you walked, the more the cart spun a woven that would become a swing, after a walk of about 10 km.

Sara Ricciardi 5VIE
Sara Ricciardi, passionate like Frida Kahlo

Sara Ricciardi and 5VIE

How is the relationship with 5VIE born? Where does the idea of “the hawker” come from?

With 5VIE has been a partnership for years, it is just a love for each other. We have like a family relationship. This is the way in which I live the 5VIE district, with devotion. When they asked me what to do for the next Furniture Expo, they loved some of my latest creations, but remaining on the object itself was not interesting for the current historical period.

Therefore, the intention was to come back to the fascination born from ‘living the street’ and ‘living the spaces’. Another aim was giving people the opportunity to offering themselves to others with one’s own imaginaries. I liked the idea of establishing new ways of relation. A traveling installation, a location that will allow handcrafts, citizens and students to sell their own “goods”. Everyone will be able to sell the most dreamlike self. Someone will sell poems, someone Cupid arrows and somebody else the baroque bread…

I am very interested in the reappropriation of the public space. Therefore, in the post-pandemic period I liked the idea of focusing on the subject of work. Together with 5VIE, we created the 5VIE banknotes that will enable people to change their goods. It is as if the District had granted people permission to take to the streets and reinvent their own job.

“Tecct e damm” (“Take it and give it to me”), a sale of imaginaries and a transfer of money.

When I lived in Kadikoy, Turkey, a woman made Semit bread at home, then she went outside to sell her own product, hung on some kind of television antennas. In Naples, in Dante Square, a man cut people’s hair with a basin, half tap, hanging thing, while singing. Everyone takes the public space back as much as possible. Going toward the same direction, Ugo La Pietra presents the project ABITARE LA CITTÁ, a very interesting idea based on the aim of regaining the public imaginary.

With the project Urban Traders Revolution, I would like to offer the very same suggestion.

Future projects, wishes or ambitions you would like to share with us…

One of my ambitions is certainly to have more social responsibility. I would really like to work on projects with a wider and more structured political and social scope. Moreover, with no doubt, going on studying in order to become an increasingly aware person. An inquiring and involved person, that does not stand still, satisfied, but is constantly in evolution and research.

Sara Ricciardi 5VIE
Sara Riccardi and No Signal Zone, installation created in occasion of Fuorisalone 2020

Sara Riccardi and No Signal Zone, installation created in occasion of Fuorisalone 2020


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