Interview with Cristina Ciamporcero, the Wine Stylist
As wine stylist Cristina Ciamporcero has been designing coordinated images for Italian wineries for more than twenty years. She started her career as co-founder and official designer of ArteVino and after twelve years decided to put herself on the line, realizing her dream of independence.
In addition to wine packaging design, she designs entire corporate images for wineries: brands, brand identity, company brochures, leaflets, advertising campaigns in trade magazines, websites and exhibition stands. All this will transmit consistency of image to the final consumer.
Arconvert: While most designers have more of a digital approach, it is known that you usually sketch all your ideas pencil on paper. How would you describe your creative approach? What are the fundamental steps in your work?
Cristina Ciamporcero: This is an interesting question as it recalls my philosophy. A thought, an idea materialised on paper comes to life more easily and allows me to see if I’m on the right track. When I was working my way up the ladder in the pre-press department of a studio operating for the prestigious firm Olivetti, I could observe great designers of the ’90s who had the fortune to work for what was considered to be a forge of Italian design. They’d come over with their physical sketches on paper and it was my duty and honor to digitalise them and create the executives. I’ve always been excited to see these handmade drawings and realized that, in front of a computer, creativity is necessarily more trivial.
First, for each project I do a philological research work. Working for different wineries all over Italy, I study the history of each territory, sometimes I ask to borrow books from the cellars, or I spend hours in the library looking for historical/artistic references to find a triggering idea for my projects. Then begins the “free-hand” part where I sketch with Indian ink, pencils or use the brush to give form to my ideas until I find the best one, the one drawing that works. It’s a personal feeling, a special sensation although the best sketch ends up being the one chosen by the customer itself. Later, I select the best ideas, scan the drawings and create the layout with the computer gathering the labels’ proposals.
Another essential element for my work is the possibility to develop my ideas based on the actual sample bottle. This allows me to take measurement (I never separate from my mother’s measuring tape) and create real mock-ups with the test labels I’ve print on Arconvert’s self-adhesive paper and cut out by hand.
Arconvert: What made you decide to choose the wine sector as your own?
Cristina Ciamporcero: Ever since I was a child, I’ve always loved packaging. I used to collect perfume boxes, clippings of advertising, and even in my previous work experiences I have always worked in the packaging design sector. However, the wine sector was an accident; a friend asked me to design the label of his Erbaluce wine back in 2000 and that’s when it all started…
Arconvert: Why should a brand owner turn to a professional designer instead of using internal resources, like acquaintances who can fiddle around with design programs?
Cristina Ciamporcero: Because the result you would get is completely different. In the wine sector experience is everything, it allows you to foresee problems and goals to be achieved simply by looking at the label in question, before anyone explains it to you.
Arconvert: Numerous of your projects focus on a complete line of products, each product differentiated by colours combinations. Is there a colour palette that you prefer? How do you choose the right colour combination to be applied to a wine collection?
Personally, I prefer neutral tones and pastel shades. But the choice of colour palette really depends on the territorial context in which we find ourselves. For example, years ago I designed a wine line for a Sicilian winery inspired by the land of il Gattopardo. Here the colors were anything but pastel, strong and bold, contrasting combinations to recall the scents and colours of a land that I particularly love.
Arconvert: Is there one particular project with Arconvert’s self-adhesive papers which you feel particularly proud of, one to which you’re particularly bounded?
Cristina Ciamporcero: Actually, there are quite a few. Starting with the label of Barolo 460 casina bric on Savile Row (one of my favorite papers) that brought me luck at the Top Applications Award back in 2011. The special texture of the Savile Row papers, which recreates the characteristic tweed fabric effect, was designed to pay tribute to Savile Row, the street in London, that was home to some of the finest tailors in the world. Made of pure elemental chlorine free (ECF) wood-free pulp mixed with cotton fibers and other textile fibers they are a perfect mix of sustainability and beauty, combining elegance of design with technical and functional features, also thanks to the Ultra WS treatment.
Another example is the project I designed last year for Tenuta la Favola, where I drew the universe on Tintoretto Crystal Salt and that I will enter with this year at the Fedrigoni Top Award. Crystal Salt is one of the uncoated self-adhesive papers of the Tintoretto family, the felt-marked papers «par excellence». The Crystal Salt version features a bright shade of white that reminds of the typical high whiteness of the salt crystals processed in the saltworks of Renaissance Venice.
Arconvert: Despite the difficulties of a challenging 2020, what are some of your goals for this year?
Cristina Ciamporcero: In this 2020 I’ve set myself the objective of improving the manual technical part with a specialized course on ink writing and watercolor painting, both techniques that I particularly love. And then I’ll travel around our beautiful Italy, because from the trips I always come back home with lots of ideas!
Photography by Leonardo Bonato.
See more of Cristina Ciamprocero’s project on Arconvert’s self-adhesive papers: