One day I asked Simona to send me some photos of her laboratory Colombini Manufatti . She sent me a video through WhatsApp with a few pretty little things. She had forgotten to remove the volume, and in the background I heard her voice humming the notes of the song "Sparring Partner" by Paolo Conte. And she immediately gave me joy: "We found each other!" I thought. An exchange of messages began until the day, not far away, when I finally visited her laboratory.
Imagine a secluded courtyard in the Isola area in Milan. A wrought iron door. Restored furniture, 'curiosités' and a sample of hand-printed fabrics. Waiting for me is Simona Colombini and her thousand faces. That of a restorer (giving new life to vintage furniture is her passion), of decorator (her wall decorations made with the 30s paint rollers are a dream), of painter (the passion for painting - and eyes - come from paternal grandfather Arturo). In a word? An all-round artist. Sons of art (his father is a well-known italian record producer and lyricist), Simona is also involved in decorating musical instruments and shellac varnishing for guitars (a tremendously difficult job, which requires so much dedication and precision).
My love at first sight? The original historic pattern paint rollers! Little stars, geometric shapes, flowers and my much loved edelweiss: once used for the "faux tapisserie", the pattern paint rollers are now used by Simona not only to decorate walls, but also to embellish fabrics, from cottons to linens, up to silks. And so cushions, curtains, bags, aprons, runners and lampshades are born.
Colombini Manufatti, as we know it today, was born in 2011, "but it is a project that was born over the years and that put together all my experience" says Simona. "I started painting at age 8, but then I studied languages. I worked in publishing houses and advertising communication agencies. My destiny then took me to Tuscany. Here I appreciated the slow living and inaugurated my first laboratory, getting closer to carving and sculpture. I worked iron and cement, and started experimenting with wall decorations. Shortly after, I worked as a set design assistant for French television (for the ‘Combien ça coûte?’ Program), learning to create a set. In Colombini Manufatti there is a bit of all this, even though I then focused on a few points: interior design and decoration with vintage paint rollers".
Her atelier has 70 vintage paint rollers, from the most baroque to the most geometric print: “I often combine a couple of designs together. In addition to wall decorations, I take care of embellishing the fabrics. And I use natural fabrics because that's the only way I can guarantee the color. Linen, the one woven in a loom, is one of my favorites, ”explains Simona.
How would you define your style? Everyone tells me that in my style there is France (and I worked there), the campaign (10 years in Tuscany). I would define it as an eclectic style that mixes vintage and contemporary. I like the old piece in a modern context.
What do not you like? I don't really like spaces decorated with lots of brass, lots of 'plissé', lots of bangs ... And I can't stand fake things, such as the furniture at La Maison Coloniale. I hate shabby.
What about your teachers? One of my greatest masters was my "Papo", a Roman engineer, a man who delighted in "DIY".
What is your dream? A beautiful house in the countryside, with a wonderful garden and a large living room with a fireplace, a little close to the sea, where I could organize workshops with my students. And run a small Bed & Breakfast.
What is dream you didn't realize? In Tuscany I had a farmhouse, but I would have liked to create suites in the middle of the olive grove, in the greenhouses, to have the chance to sleep under the stars ...
What are your favorite places in Milan? "Breakfast in my kitchen or at Cherry Pit, in Piazzale Archinto. For a lunch in the open air, La Cantinetta da Luca: Mediterranean cuisine, tasty and a little spicy.” And outside the Isola area? "Ah no, but I don't use to go somewhere else. No one does it. It's a crime," Simona says with a smile. "I like cycling on the Naviglio della Martesana. Another quiet spot is the Botanical Garden of Brera."
What are your favorite antique markets? San Donato (the last Sunday of the month) and Cormano (every Saturday morning).
On request, Colombini Manufatti organizes workshops in Milan. Ready to learn how to decorate walls with vintage paint rollers?