Strolling around the Monti district in Milan – the neighborhood stretching around the long, stylish Via Vincenzo Monti, where palaces once belonged to the 19th century wealthy bourgeoisie, your eye is caught by the many cultural attractions of the city, as well as captivating, varied, elegant shops and boutiques.
The opening of the first Joy-Jo atelier would not come as a surprise, if not for the fact that it took place in June 2020, in full Covid-19 pandemic.
A risky choice, or an optimistic bet on the future?
Curious to find out more, we asked this straight to the one who embarked on this incredible venture, Giovanna Canu.
Giovanna, what is Joy-Jo and what is it about?
Joy-Jo is my brand, born in 2008 in Barcelona, but it is mostly about me, Giovanna Canu.
Could you elaborate?
You see, Giovanna is certainly an architect and a designer, but she is first of all a woman, a curious woman, passionate about her job.
I was born in Sassari, Sardinia, and when I was 18, I fled from that island that I had grown out of at the time in order to study architecture in Milan. There, I got my first job as an architect at a big international company, where I spent 15 years.
At some point, though, I realized that what I was doing did not allow my creative self to grow, so I decided to change my life.
I believe that fortunate coincidences happen when you are ready to spot and grasp them. I was ready: I went back to studying for two years at a professional jewellery design school in Barcelona, I followed workshops and took classes, until I came across the technique that fascinated me, and that I am still using now – textile jewellery.
What is this about?
It is an experimental technique that applies textile weaving techniques to metallic threads.
There is not any specific literature on this, only pure experimentation and technical knowledge of the materials, plus the irreplaceable teachings of excellent masters, who were Giovanni Corvaja and Jaime Diaz in my case.
What are you jewels made with this technique specifically like?
Let’s start by saying that these jewels are absolutely light without compromising volumes, extremely versatile and wearable, but what matters most is that they all tell a story.
Yes, a story of conscious choices right from the materials. My unique pieces are handmade from 100% pure copper thread, both a sustainable and aesthetic choice.
Copper is a noble material with efficient anti-inflammatory properties, and is used in homeopathy and naturopathy.
Moreover, unlike other metals like gold or silver, copper is extracted through processes that ensure the protection of the workers and the environment.
I was looking for a jewel that would be aesthetically pleasing and innovative in design without being extreme – in other words, that would be easy to wear.
I wanted everyone to perceive their own uniqueness in the chosen jewel.
Sassari, Milan, Barcelona – how much have these three cities, so different from one another, influenced your professional training?
My roots are tied to Sardinia and its traditions.
True, I left it to study, but at this time of my life, I feel a strong bond with my land, with its culture and traditions.
My solid Sardinian origins are what gave me strength to learn how to spread my wings in my world.
Barcelona is the city that meant freedom, rebirth, full realization, and self-rediscovery to me, my first boutique, a period of carefree, joyful creativity.
Milan is my beloved city of adoption, a city that took a lot from me at a certain time of my life, but I made peace with it, as I recognize it has an extraordinary ability to renovate itself and offer great opportunities. The only city I want to live in now, for how stimulating it can be.
Why did you decide to go against the trend and open a physical boutique at a time like this?
In my opinion, in order to be livable, cities need to become more sustainable by developing a support network for artisans, a network of neighborhood shops where to look into each other’s eyes and find the soul that all artisan artists like me pour into their pieces. Places where the artisan culture can grow alongside that know-how so strongly tied to our tradition, while always respecting the environment. In this vision, the physical space mirrors the product. This is how it goes for me.
I want to be able to tell every jewel of mine, the story behind it, the love it was born of. Look into the eyes of the person who will buy it and make it their own is a privilege I will not go without. It is surely a brave choice.
What do you see in your future?
Rather than I vision, I have a dream, a great desire.
I would like to see cities full of artisans with studios where to show and tell their work. I would like for artistic crafting schools to open, or develop where they already exist, in order to spread the culture and spirit of artistic crafting, which is luckily starting to blossom again in Italy.
Thanks to Maria Mele