Anna Bonino of CRIZU appeared on my radar this past summer via paper artist Amy Genser's newsletter. CRIZU sculptures were displayed in The Summer Art Loft in New York City alongside Amy's rolled paper murals. Soon I was following Anna's posts and have enjoyed seeing her elegant creations ever since.
I wrote to Anna and asked if she would like to be interviewed. She enthusiastically agreed and managed to find time to answer my questions while preparing for a show that took place in Milan, Italy this past weekend.
Tell us about CRIZU. Who is behind the scenes?
Just myself, Anna Bonino, but I could not make it without the support and artistic contribution of my mother, Cristina, who came up with the first folded book some twenty years ago. When she started, there was no internet, no fast communication, and she did not build this art as an actual enterprise. Now all of this is possible and can be seen on a wide scale: an obsolete book destined for the shredder is instead transformed into art. The pages are not cut; only folded. We give old books new meaning in a design sense.
Books are so appealing to many of us and such a strong element of our culture, naturally people are drawn to them. In any case, my mother is a very big part of the business. Recently, my younger sister, Bianca, is beginning to find interest in folded books and works of art with recycled paper. I really would like for her to join me and transform it all into a nice family business. I could use the help, plus you do not get more Italian than that!
Where are you located?
We are in Italy, between Milano and Genova.
As these things often happen, the idea of transforming books into sculptures came about by chance. We used to live in New York City, and one day while browsing in a high-end oriental antiquities shop, noticed a book in a special case. It had cuts running through the pages creating a beautiful design. We loved it so much, we tried to replicate the effect with books we had at home. However, we did not dare cut, so we began to fold! That is how it all began.
All of our paper sculptures today are hand folded, page after page, and nothing is cut away apart from the front cover. We use obsolete Italian books that range from the 1920s through the 80s. In a way, we give the book a second chance. Each modern sculpture is considered one of a kind because it is impossible for us to make two that are identical.
I'm admiring the brass findings that accent your sculptures. Do you create things other than table top sculptures?
Yes, I have a new line of LED lamps that feature folded books. The trestle is made of beech wood and can be left natural or lacquered in Radiccio red from the Farrow & Ball palette.
I also make a limited edition series of necklaces and earrings with books that do not have the right requirements for becoming a paper sculpture. The line is called paper jewelry - barely necessary. It mixes unexpected materials such as crystal beads, painted wooden beads and brass.
I read about your show in New York City last summer - congratulations! Do you have upcoming exhibits?
In January, we will be participating, like we do twice a year, at Maison&Objet in Paris. It is a fantastic fair, incredibly interesting and international. Thanks to this opportunity, our pieces are promoted and appreciated in distant countries, such as Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, China, Saudi Arabia, India, Northern Europe, Turkey, Malta, France, Spain, UK and US. And Italy, of course!
In May, we always attend a beautiful and well-curated fair in Florence's Palazzo Corsini gardens, Artigianato e Palazzo. The setting is unique and so charming. They select the best quality artisans and place them all together in this marvelous ‘giardino all’italiana’ belonging to the Corsini family.
At the end of May, we will fly to the city of Lecce in Puglia for another wonderful small fair of Italian artisanship called Artigianato d’Eccellenza. It is a beautiful fair and the people of Lecce are so incredibly hospitable.
What is the meaning of the name CRIZU?
CRIZU is actually a tribute to my mother who is the inventor of the concept. She began to fold books just for fun after seeing that book in the shop. Her name is Cristina, her nickname is Crisu in Italian. But if you you want to pronounce it correctly in English, it has to be spelled with a ‘z’. So Crizu!
Thank you, Anna! You'll find CRIZU on Instagram and Facebook.