Corina Jucan Interview
The left side of All’Origine’s brain
A chat with art director Corina Jucan
Born in 1983 in Romania, Corina Jucan has been living in Italy since 2006. She has been part of the All’Origine team since day one, becoming art director in 2015. She is the mind behind countless display designs for our showroom, all booth designs for the events in which we take part and author of all of All’Origine’s signature Frameforks™.
With a master’s degree in visual arts it wouldn’t be farfetched to define her an artist, but this is not a definition she will accept. “Stylist” may sound a bit vague, but it is one of very few terms she feels comfortable defining her. Despite not practicing a lot of restoration and decoration with us, we must add that Jucan is also a very skilled restorer and decorator.
We had a chat with her and this is what she told us:
G.: Your relationship with old objects seems like a very special one. Not merely professional. Is that true?
C.J.: Old objects resonate with me much more than new ones. I wouldn’t say I have any kind of prejudice towards new objects, they are just more silent to me. Old things make me feel connected with my childhood, they bring my memory back to my grandparents house. I’ve really been surrounded by old stuff my whole life. I see them as more unique, more special. And when they break you can mend them if you know how and the patch will blend in, while with new stuff it doesn’t work. A mend will stick out like a sore thumb.
See I’m wearing second hand clothes and (though it may disgust you) yes, my shoes are second hand too. I’m not saying I don’t like your white sneakers though, I would totally buy a pair like yours if they were provided to me with the right degree of wear and tear.
G.: So there is nothing so broken that it can’t be mended?
C.J.: No, unfortunately there is a point where things are just too broken. I just think most people in our society set that bar too low. But don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of keeping alive objects that are technologically obsolete. For example if I were to change my kitchen at home, I would want the best contemporary appliances, I would just want everything that is in sight to be covered in old materials. See I don’t have that typical Italian approach to philological restoration. For most Italians this applies to anything that is old – be it an architecture or a piece of furniture- regardless of the historic and artistic value. I look at the objects and the materials that surround us here at the showroom as something that is still alive and that can be transformed in case of need. I mean a mid century cement tile is beautiful and precious, but it is not some unique piece of art you are supposed to admire without touching.
Set design by Corina Jucan: an oneiric table with cement tiles as dishes and oil lamp bases as pretend drinking cups. In the background a wall covered in paper that was decorated using our mid-century rubber rollers.
G: What about that tipping point, when an object is too broken. Whenever something breaks at the showroom you rush to collect the pieces and you take them home before your colleagues can throw them away. What do you do with them?
C.J.: Well Glass is impossible to mend together and I don’t have the skills to restore broken ceramics, but still, objects that are too broken to serve their primary purpose can usually be repurposed or transformed into something else. You have a thing for mudlarking, so I’m sure you can relate to my feeling that even the tiniest fragment can serve some purpose.
G.: Yes, 100%. The next question is about your attachment to these old objects. Do you feel sorry when they are sold and leave the showroom?
C.J.: No, not one bit. I would not know what to do with so much stuff. I’m happy it goes to some new place where it can be of use and most of all I’m happy that more old objects will be coming in. See, this is how it goes: we get a truck of stuff from Davide’s latest buying trip. I help unloading and sorting things out. After the cleaning process, which I’m not involved with, we may discover some ugly patches in the paint of a chair, a weak spot in a picture frame or something like that. I do some minor work on many of the objects, mostly to consolidate them and to de-restore terrible (and usually recent) home-made fixes. The term de-restore is one I learned in Italy, I don’t think we even have that concept in Romanian culture!
I then display the objects inside the showroom or use them to make something (like our Frameforks) which of course I then display as well. Once the objects have found their place inside the showroom my relationship with them is more or less over.
Manufacturing a big Framefork with the aid of a makeshift platform.
G.: I forget you are a very rational person! I remember you once told us about putting objects “on hold”, waiting for the right moment to be displayed. How does that work?
C.J.: You see, sometimes there are items that don’t look “ripe” enough. In most cases I’m the one that needs some time to figure out the right way to display them, and I must confess, when I feel like I’m not figuring out the proper way to display something I get very frustrated. It’s like being stuck on a puzzle.
In other cases it’s more like the object is missing something, as if it needs a companion, perhaps a similar object or a complementary counterpart. I’ve had objects “on hold” literally for years. Then the day comes when you’re helping unload the truck and you see the perfect match, so that object that’s been hiding in the lab instantly comes to mind and it can finally go to the showroom.
G.: I’m amazed by your mindset, your mnemonic abilities and in general by the way you are so scientific and rational while doing something so artistic. You are so Pythagorean! Who are your masters?
C.J.: Besides my professors at the Faculty of visual arts in Oradea, my strongest influence is undoubtedly architect Valentino Parmiani. Valentino was the first art director at All’Origine, until he passed away in 2015. We all miss him very much. He was not only my mentor but also a very close friend of Davide. He taught me all that “architectural” part that my background was lacking. I learned to set and follow composition rules. I learned what having a sense of proportion means when you are working in three dimensions and most of all I think I learned to put elegance first. He is one of the most elegant people I’ve ever met.
Architect Valentino Parmiani and Corina Jucan in Folgaria (Italy), 2014
G.: Everyone who knows you would describe you as an extremely elegant person. Your posture and your gestures are literally something that seems to come out of a costume drama. Did you study for this?
C.J.: No, of course I did not! But I do value elegance a lot. A certain kind of elegance at least. Not the freshly-ironed-dress kind of elegance. I would not know how to define it, but that particular type of elegance which I aspire to is something that can and should be applied to all the aspects of a person’s life: in the way of speaking, of handling situations, of dressing, moving, styling one’s home and beyond!
G.: Going back to Valentino Parmiani: how did you see All’Origine change in these years, from when he was art director to now?
C.J.: The company has grown a lot, which of course is a good thing, but you see, focusing more on sales risks taking away from our elegance and I don’t want to lose any ground. That is the biggest threat today if I were to improvise a SWOT analysis on All’Origine. You see, Valentino was not focused on selling at all. Valentino helped build the image of the company through a series of artistic operations that were anything but sales focused. His job here from 2012 to 2015 was an investment that is paying off now. Sometimes I wonder what he would think of how we are doing without him, and I know it is my responsibility to make him proud –wherever he is- because I have taken his role now. I try to follow in his footsteps and that’s why during meetings I don’t always agree with the sales team and my colleagues in logistics. The most practical way is not necessarily the most rational way if you are giving up elegance.
The last picture of Valentino Parmiani inside the All’Origine showroom (2015)
Corina Jucan in a portrait by Oscar Ungvari