Women We Love:
Livia Cetti

Friends & Family

Dec 22nd, 2017

Photography by Jessica Antola

After admiring her work from afar for many years, we are thrilled to finally be working with artist Livia Cetti and her one-of-a-kind hand-made paper floral creations. Her passion for hand-crafted objects, obsession with colors and attention to detail make every item she makes come to life and fill a room with beauty and joy. We sat down with her in her beautiful Riverdale home/studio earlier this month to see where and how the magic happens. 

Bird Brooklyn: We are so obsessed with your work and so excited to be working together!!! Can you tell us a bit about your trajectory to the paper flower world? When did you start and how did it transition into a full time business?
Livia Cetti: I’ve been doing fresh flowers for as long as I can remember. I got into styling and I started working for Martha Stewart. When I was working there I became aware of how few people there are out in the world that are hand making individual, different products. I had always wanted to do something that I could make on a small scale in my basement (and hopefully grow into something bigger), and I started getting into paper flowers - so it was a perfect fit. I took my flowers to John Derian, and that’s really what made it all a business.

BB: Each flower is painstakingly made by hand. Can you tell us a bit about that process? 
LC: The flowers are made with a combination of traditional floral wire and taping used in fresh flower corsage making, and techniques used in vintage millinery flowers. Everything is made entirely by hand, every leaf, every petal. There’s a lot of repetitive processes - dyeing, cutting, painting, folding, taping, etc.

BB: The flowers are so incredibly realistic, except they last forever ha! I think a lot of that comes down to the subtlety of the paper itself. How do you use bleaching and dying to create that effect? 
LC: My inspiration comes from nature. If you take apart a real flower and look at each piece you’ll see that the color almost always gradiates from one to the other. Keeping that in mind, I wondered how I could get the same effect. That’s when I came up with the idea of removing the color by dipping the tissue paper in diluted bleach, and as an extension of that using dye. I actually moved away from crepe paper and towards tissue paper, because I feel like tissue paper captures more of the delicate qualities of a real flower - it’s smooth, opaque.

BB: Your home is such a warm, vibrant, colorful extension of you and your work. It seems like most of the objects are inspired by or found on your travels. Do you have any guiding principles on design? What are some of your favorite things and where did they come from?
LC: I like a lot of base neutrals - like the warm grey of the walls and I feel like that allows me to bring in the bright, crazy colors but still keep a cohesive look. I love using ethnic textiles and balancing that out with more graphic, modern ones. When I travel, I’m really drawn to older things, and anything woven. I’m always coming home with a lot of baskets. I usually try to find the few shops in the area that carry vintage things. I love Mexico and Japan. I think both places really emphasize an attention to detail, and value the beauty of handmade objects.

BB: How long have you lived in the Bronx? Any tips for where to find a great snack or a glass of wine in your neighborhood?
LC: I’ve lived here for about 13 years. I feel like I traded coolness for a beautiful house, lots of trees and a garden. Moss Cafe is hands down the best place around for a good pastry, and it’s the studio’s favorite place for lunch. Wave Hill is close by and has beautiful gardens open to the public.

BB: Do you have a studio uniform? How is it the same as or different from your style outside the studio? What are some of your favorite designers? 
LC: Some days are definitely more fashionable then others, haha. I’m a very tactile person so there’s a lot of James Perse t-shirts and vintage Levi’s jeans or Chimala denim, especially when I’m in the studio. I love beautiful clothes but it’s hard when I’m working because the studio is a bit of a dangerous place for clothes. I’m actually wearing a Rachel Comey jumpsuit today that fell prey to some bleach spots. When I don’t have to worry about that, I love Dries Van Noten (of course), A Détacher, Marni, Hache, Ter et Bantine, Kapital, Martin Margiela (BB: online soon!). In my vintage/old lady section I love Maud Frizon, Ferragamo, and St. John’s knits.

BB: What are you most looking forward to this holiday season?
LC: Getting my Charlie Brown tree! I love when Christmas trees are spindly. And making cookies with my boys.

BB: Any goals, plans, new ideas for 2018?
LC: We’re really excited to be at Bird! It’s a brand we’ve admired for a long time, and we feel like it’s the perfect match. We made some special plaster pieces for the arrangements there, and we’re hoping to explore the idea of that more. We’ve been stashing some cool, funky molds just for that. And to continue pursuing interesting shops and projects around the world to be apart of!