When I met Andrea Usai and his wife Ansula for the first time, he worked as a manager for a company in the luxury travel sector while she was an architect and designer.
Their love for all things Italian was already clear and their knowledge of “l’artigianato italiano”, Italian hand-crafted products, was striking.
I had immediately noticed a wonderful ring Ansula was wearing, and when I asked about it, I discovered much more than I would have imagined. A tail of perfect Italian romance and love!
Andrea explained that for special occasions, such as their engagement, wedding or the birth of their children, he always looked for a special jewel for Ansula to mark the occasion.
“Every time I looked for interesting and special jewels in London, Germany, even in Dubai, Jordan or New Zeland, but I always ended up going back to my beloved Sardinia, getting a jewel from one of my trusted artigiani.”
I was not at all surprised, when one day I got a call from Andrea saying that they put their careers on hold to start up a new business venture to provide a platform to promote the world's undiscovered master artisans starting from Sardinian treasures.
Last summer, with their dedication, verve, and passion, KOKKU was finally born, with the vision of “preserving by promoting” undiscovered and threatened traditional craftsmanship by giving it a new life and personal meaning to people around the world.
KOKKU which takes its name from a type of Sardinian amulet for protecting newborns against the “evil eye”, focuses its very first series of collections on jewellery originating from Sardinia, promoting the finest hand-crafted filigree, a gradually dying trade, to the UK and International market.
These ranges – including the breath-taking Corbula, Nuvola, Le Signorine and Charms collections – come from artisans across Sardinia, a region of Italy long-famed for its gold production. Their beauty strikes you with elegance and character, and price wise they remain within reach.
Andrea explained: “As a native Sardinian I am deeply proud to be involved in the promotion of my island's filigree jewellery . . . and its survival. Ansula and I aim for nothing less than making available these special mementos of tomorrow, that have been so precious to us, while at the same time helping preserve undiscovered valuable craftsmanships and traditions within Sardinia, but also Sri Lanka and Germany in the future (where Ansula and her family are from), that are threatened with extinction.
However, as an architect and designer, Ansula could not miss the chance to promote also high quality innovative creations. She told me that: “Mixed with the traditional we found exciting contemporary designs in Sardinia which are possible thanks to a series of “significant innovations” in filigree metalwork.
Indeed, several techniques used for KOKKU’s jewellery are patented and exclusively used by the local manufacturers. “There are two significant innovations,” she added “The first is the size of the thread used. Some of our jewellery is decorated with filigree made of a thread with a diameter that can be as thin as 0.25mm. The second is the use of the filigree itself. In the original style of workmanship the filigree is used to decorate and beautify jewellery by adding a graceful touch. In many of our jewellery pieces, however, filigree is used not as a decorative addition but as a structural support for the design, making the pieces volumetric and light.”
Andrea is really happy with the results of their artisans’ work: “Each piece of KOKKU jewellery is timeless, and yet resonant both with its own heritage and with special moments in the person's life. There is a definite mystic quality to it I am proud about.”
Wishing them the best of luck with KOKKU, I cannot stop thinking that this is the real “Made in Italy” and that a business idea that was born out of love between two people and passion for the beauty of hand-crafted pieces of art can only deserve a great future.
KOKKU will be exhibiting at the EFF (Ethical Fashion Forum) in Sadler’s Wells, Rosebery Avenue, Islington, London, on October 17 and 18, 2011.
KOKKU will also be opening its doors to the press from 4pm to 8pm every day between Monday, October 10 and Saturday, October 15.
Following these series of events KOKKU will hold private parties at different venues between the 19th and 23rd of October.
La Dolce Vita 2012, Business Design Centre in Islington, London.