Find out more about Isabella Zocchi’s biography from her beginning in the modeling of wax jewels to freelance projects in watches & jewels business.
Family goldsmith tradition
The attention to the smallest details and the conception of the product intended as an all-round sculpture, certainly derive from my beginning in the modeling of wax jewels. In the 80s my father opened his goldsmith workshop in the courtyard of his house, in Samarate, where he personally made creations in gold and precious gems by hand. As a child I loved to watch him at the banquet while he welded or shaped gold wire with the nippers. I was thrilled to be able to help match the stones destined to adorn splendid earrings.
But my adventure in the world of style and design originated more concretely in the 90s, when during my adolescence I began to attend the workshop to learn the art of wax jewelery modeling. It was very instructive to see live the lost wax casting technique. Thus I learned the basics of metal working and setting stones, sitting next to the setter. It was exciting to see those wax prototypes become precious objects, which were then sold! In the image, me at the banquet at the age of 16, 1992.
The family tradition for the goldsmith’s art naturally directed me towards artistic studies. In Varese I attended the State Art School for five years in the new experimental section.
The family business gave me the opportunity to attend the prestigious European Institute of Design in Milan, where I was able to develop the design method, acquire the freehand drawing technique, and breathe in a stimulating international environment with students from all over the world . Not to mention the comparison with the big city, with its frenzy and vitality. I remember the headquarters in via Sciesa, in a non-central area of Milan, which could be used with great freedom, including the courtyard, by improvising a laboratory, a space for painting or a photographic set. There was an experimental spirit that characterized the school’s idea of design education as a place of great passion and research where things are tried, rethought and changed where necessary. The project understood as a process to become and not at all static.
I graduated in ’99 with full marks and I remember at the graduation party I had the honor of receiving it from Elio Fiorucci. With great pride two of my projects were selected to be part of the Gallery of 30 representative projects of the Institute. One of the works, the futuristic Non communication mask, with which I theorized a future full of technology that would limit dialogue and human relationships between people, was published in the May 1999 issue of Vogue Italia and Case da Abitare. In the images, moments from the graduation ceremony and in front of one of my artworks, 1999.
Milan with heart in hand
Since 2000 I have undertaken a series of important experiences in companies in Milan in the field of product development and design of watches and jewels in steel and silver. I was able to know Milan in its deepest heart. There is an old dialectal saying to define Milan: Milan col coeur in man, which means “Milan with heart in hand”, underlining the ability to be generous and to welcome everyone. And that’s right, there’s room and opportunity for everyone, as long as you take your commitment and respect for work seriously.
First business experiences
Initially my experience began at Binda Italia, whose headquarters were close to the Arco della Pace, for the Breil watch brand and the emerging Breil jewelery line, which I have been dealing with since its birth. I remember the climate dominated by strong distrust and skepticism, which then resulted in a huge commercial success, forever upsetting the jewelry market. It was an honor to have been a part of this revolutionary experience for that time. Exceptionally, I designed some country-style models with double leather straps for the D&G Dolce & Gabbana Time brand, one of them was produced, named Bonn, which was worn by the models during the fashion show in Milan, and chosen as the star of the watches advertising campaign Fall/Winter 2002.
Subsequently, in Sector I handled the product development of watches for Roberto Cavalli, Just Cavalli and Moschino. The company was based in the very central Via Manzoni, on the top floors of the Armani megastore building. I remember the lunchtime spent in the cafè shop of the quadrilateral, and those marvelous shop windows that I saw every day, proud of Italian style and creativity. And again, the meetings at the nearby Cavalli showroom or the historic Moschino headquarters. All very inspiring indeed!
During those years I traveled frequently in Europe and China, and I had the opportunity to live for about two years in Hong Kong where I worked for Retkie Industries in product design and development for the Iceberg, Enrico Coveri, Fila and Viceroy brands.
Developing the idea of launching my namesake line
So it was that, having grown up in a small town, I found myself catapulted to the other side of the world in a megalopolis where East and West naturally coexist in mutual respect. I was particularly struck by the modern and futuristic buildings in contrast to the architectural style buildings of ancient China with the fascinating pagodas. I was thus able to better understand and appreciate Chinese culture thanks to colleagues and friends who shared their traditions with me and welcomed me making me feel at home.
A unique experience that made me realize how we Italians are appreciated abroad for our high craftsmanship and our creativity, the innate sense of style and joie de vivre. It was precisely in this period that I developed the idea of one day launching my own personal line The address of the Retkie’s Italian headquarters was Piazza Duomo, exactly on the top floor of one of the buildings facing the façade of the Duomo. Lunchtime took place between the center and the road that leads to the Castello Sforzesco, the wonderful Via Dante.
Running first own design studio
At the end of 2005 my desire for autonomy was getting stronger and stronger, so I decided to start my own design studio.
The following year I was ready as a freelance designer to study new collections of watches, jewelery and accessories for international brands. Helveco for Chronograph International LLC in Dubai, whose representative model of the Constance classic men’s watch remained in production for over 10 years since 2007. As well as other models in the women’s line. Other brands such as Aigner, for Tick Tack AG of Wallbach in Switzerland. Or Nautica for Callanen International Inc of the USA, to name a few. I dealt with all aspects of the design, from the initial design to the creation of resin or metal prototypes. For that purpose, I internally used a 3-axis prototyping machine. In the image the making of a sketch of a watch, 2006.
However, my passion for accessories didn’t stop at jewels and watches. In the meantime, I wanted to broaden my knowledge by attending the specialization course in Accessories Design at the Burgo Fashion Institute in Milan. I passed the final exam with flying colors which consisted of studying a shoe collection.
Award competition winning
The consultancy activity will lead me to win, together with five other finalists, the competition organized by the Artisans Association of the province of Varese. It was aimed at young and innovative entrepreneurs of the area called Adopt a new entrepreneur. The prize consisted of access to a subsidized investment fund which helped me to start my personal line of accessories in 2007. Also, I left the activity of a freelance designer dedicating myself exclusively to the pursuit of my dream. Participation in international events with other emerging designers, in the years in which social media were born, gave a lot of satisfaction and attention from consumers and industry insiders. However, the difficulties in emerging forced me after a few years to “put away” the project. In the image some frames from the video-interview for www.zappos.com in 2012.
In recent years I have maintained my creativity and manuality by creating customized hair accessories using fabrics, pearls, feathers and veils and for special events. I loved having direct contact with customers, being able to follow them trying to understand their wishes and meet their expectations.
It is said that dreams are wishes that sometimes come true. I never stopped believing that the opportunity would come. So here I am, at 46, with even more passion than before and the desire to get back into the game. After a period of hiatus I am thrilled to resume the interrupted dialogue with my supporters!
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