"In my earliest memories Venice had other colours. It was more obscure, dramatic, decayed and deeply romantic - simply beautiful. There wasn't the same light like there is today - more dazzling perhaps, but less poetic."
The life of Giberto Arrivabene Valenti Gonzaga is viscerally linked to Venice. His childhood memories, the most beautiful, are those that have taken place in the rooms of Palazzo Papadopoli, between frescoes of Tiepolo and family affection.
As an only son with two sisters, Giberto lost his father at the age of 9 years. "He was a naval officer and a war hero." he says. "He has received a silver medal, two bronze medals and three war merit crosses. But above all it was he who set up my education with some military discipline and with a great sense of honor and justice."
Being the only male remaining in the family, Giberto considered it a privilege to be raised in a female universe. "From my mother I absorbed a deep sense of aesthetics. Women have a sensibility in taste that we men will never be able to match."
From there a passion for beautiful things was formed, and the desire to bring them back to life. Women are still his universe. Married to Bianca di Savoia Aosta, Giberto has four daughters and one son, who is the youngest. Yet it is Giberto who loves to deal with certain details at home: fabrics, perfumes etc. "It's part of the inheritance from my mother," he says, "I consider it a wonderful gift."
From an adolescence spent running away from one college to another, with school results that were not always brilliant, Giberto has the air of never having had a gripe. "I was young and I enjoyed it. It was a beautiful period." Up until his coveted maturity diploma, to then enjoy his gap year in America with a backpack in tow before facing the world of work. The fascination for glass and high quality craftsmanship have always been central to his interests.
Every journey has been a source of new inspirations. "When I go around I’m always attentive to details. Nobody, like the Russians for example, is able to mix rich materials such as silver, vermeil or precious stones with those of poor quality, such as wood or glass. The result is artistic objects of sublime beauty. But also Morocco and India have been a constant source of new ideas."
The creative element is always fun for Giberto - it's a discovery. Despite the responsibilities that come with age and having a family, he still maintains a captivating sense of humor and a lightness that has the upper hand over his melancholic and nostalgic nature. "Venice is perfect for me, it suits my character. It’s the ideal place to live and to create." (photo by Michael James O'Brien)