The journey of Nadiya Yamnych and Walter Espedito Trento began with a fateful meeting that took on many forms and shapes before coming to light in the historic town of Cisternino. In a conversation with VIA Magazine, the designers reveal how the spirit of Puglia is reflected in their design and architectural works.
For Nadiya Yamnych and Walter Espedito Trento, “in the beginning, there was a dream”. They dreamt of a home that would reflect their wild visions. The journey started in 2009 during which time the couple met at PastaMadre, a cross-Europe performance conceived by Espedito Trento as a new ritual for a planet in crisis. In this performance, he used a natural yeast sourced in the Itria Valley, creating a dough that refreshes itself, and becomes bread to share. PastaMadre proved a fateful event for the couple.
When they arrived in Puglia, their first project was the Trulli house, which they carefully restored and transformed into a workshop, or as they say, “the nursery of new projects and dreams.” The series of mushroom-like houses with stacked stone dot the land, popping out the side of buildings in bustling towns and spouting like flowers in the middle of quiet valleys. Working with the strucure to bring out character and soul is where the magic is found.
This first studio was later called Trullonostrano and became the precursor of Yamnych and Espedito Trento’s passion for architectural design and restoration projects. Five years on, Trullonostrano has become a holiday home for travelers, and the couple chose a name and form to their work, launching NÙEVÙ – a multidisciplinary studio that marries art, design, and architecture. They aim to reveal what is hidden in characters that are not visible at first glance, they look for the story’s significance, asserting that it lies in the perspective and lens it is looked through. Yamnych and Espedito Trento contend that good design addresses living needs and balances aesthetics, concept, soul, functionality, and simplicity – finding the fine line between beauty and functionality.
The team is currently working on a number of residential projects, including Il Giardino Del Teologo (The Garden of the Theologist), where they have reimagined the house of the official theologist of the cathedral of Ostuni, the place for his spiritual retreats. Expected to launch in 2021 at their new studio and showroom in the Ostuni countryside, “clients will be able to experience timeless simplicity with an eye on detail, tactile, and sensory exploration of textures. Unique indoor and outdoor spaces with limited edition design pieces available made to order; objects of daily rituals; paintings and sculptures; textile and lighting design solutions; examples of surface’s finishing, natural plasters, and floorings.”
Alongside The Garden of the Theologist is the micro-festival, Wunian. living and being happy. Originally conceived in 2018, Disimpegno. Appunti Intorno All’Abitare is an annual micro-festival that takes place in Cisternino. The festival is the brainchild of NÙEVÙ Studio and its partners – Macrohabitat, Pietre Vive Editore, Massimo Romanazzi, Antonio Lillo, and Fabio Macaluso who all sought to address alternative ways of living. “We are also working on creating the objects for interiors and exteriors design, as our Fossil flowers, Columnae vases, Maldiluna lamp, etc.”
Strength in Unity
Yamnych is originally from L’viv, Ukraine, and Trento is a native Apulian; together they define themselves as multidisciplinary artists. Following the ‘slow living’ philosophy in the Valley of Trulli, Yamnych and Trento work with local maestros who take part in their creative journey. “There is strength in unity”, the couple affirms. Maestro Mauro Scognamiglio skilfully applies the historic Cocciopesto technique (known as Opus Signinum); designer Donato Semeraro takes care of the research processes, developing new textures for lighting design solutions; and architect Massimo Romanazzi has been collaborating with NÙEVÙ for special projects since 2016.
A homage to the experience of emotional desire, “Leaving everything to be desired” (Lasciando tutto a desiderare in Italian) is one of their latest projects. The project is essentially a series of installations encouraging visitors to write their desires on paper, “thus leaving everything to be desired.” Three movements were explored by the team:
1° movement – Conversano | The cloistered Benedictine Monastery
2° movement – Cisternino | Former covered market in disuse
3° movement – Milan | Private garden in St. Cesare Correnti
“The precarious balance of the table on the space of desire from the 1° movement anticipated today’s feeling of our fragile reality. In some way, the 2° and 3° movements are related to the current pandemic situation…The visitors were invited to throw their wishes written on paper through the closed shutter. The desires were protected but closed, as our common experience during the lockdown.”
Puglia: A historic canvas for new creation
One of our craziest projects was probably a sensorial event DESIRE for the first edition of Disimpegno Festival as a practice of beauty. In collaboration with our magnificent Australian friends, Glider Global, and as a part of their long-term project Hard Things to Talk About, it was a food art performance in the form of a conceptual dinner, designed specifically for the garden of figs, Botanical Conservatory in Cisternino, one of the most important collections of figs in the world. An itinerant sensory dinner where food became art, emotion, and feeling, with the participants’ active involvement in a surreal journey in the Pomona Garden. When art and food became the instrument to discover our deepest feelings.
But what continues to give us satisfaction among unusual projects, because it can be replicated indefinitely, is our “One square meter of poetry”, conceived in abandoned spaces—reconsidering the value of living space not in economic but emotional terms. Every time we take a house, a room, a garden, or an abandoned space and set up a site-specific installation with a poet or actor who can declaim poems, and maybe we organize an aperitif or a dinner.
Among their biggest inspirations they say, are two pillars: “the memory of spaces and objects” and “the story behind each of us.” Their design aesthetic lies in between simplicity, minimalism, and monochrome solutions: “It is a constant, intuitive balancing act between contemplation and need, between historical material, techniques, and contemporary aesthetic language.” The way Yamnych and Trento reveal these elements tells us much about their fondness and sincerity concerning their works; it almost adds a soul to their designs.
One can only imagine how many Puglia-designated projects were postponed with the outbreak of COVID-19, including Yamnych and Trento’s Animal Symbolicum, a collection inspired by Cassier’s symbolic imagery (set to launch in Spring 2021). The project unites art professionals that have come together to create objects, images, and symbols that explore the relationship between concepts and visual experiences, inviting artists to add their input to the story. On Yamnych and Trento’s team are a global circle of talents including Francisco Lopez, co-founder of Mogollon; New York-based creative studio; Sidney-based agency Glider Global that explores changes in the human future; Ursula Janssen, a Puglia-based German archeologist and expert in ancient cuisine, and Manoocher Deghati, Iranian photojournalist.
“What cannot be seen does not exist. But everything can be imagined!” say the creators of NÙEVÙ. There is potent magic between the two designers; their choice to settle in Cisternino also confirms their artistic sixth sense of knowing where to go, where things are happening. It is here that many skilled and pioneering talents of all ages come to create, network, and launch new ideas. The studio’s conceptual works can be discovered on their website and Instagram portfolio.