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Chitchatting with Friends: Olimpia Zagnoli

Unrestrainable immersions in the depths of drawing, inspirations, music and more: here is a compendium in a few words of the constantly bubbling world of OZ, aka Olimpia Zagnoli.

by Giacomo Donati

Where does your passion for drawing come from?

From a kind of subcutaneous itching that makes it so that as soon as I find a pencil and any piece of paper, I have to empty over it tangled thoughts, faces of unknown people, high chairs, lamps, huge letters, non-existent plants and shoes with rebellious laces.

©Jason Fulford

What are or have been your work's reference points?

My kindergarten teacher Giovanni Piazza who brought me closer to materials, collages and light. My mother who introduced me to Bruno Munari, Gianni Rodari, Grazia Nidasio, Georges Perec, Piperita Patty, Matisse and company. My father who taught me the importance of framing and, together with him, the New Wave, Ermanno Olmi, Antonioni, Horst P. Horst and Busby Berkeley. The punk music that, strange as it may sound, got my mind right.

Where are you going now?

On an island made of sofa.

What's your connection with Japan?

Isamu Noguchi, Yū Morisawa, Ikko Tanaka, Yasujiro Ozu,’s, Georges Ohsawa and miso soup.

How important is music in your work? what are you listening to right now?

When I work I often listen to Les Paul and Mary Ford, Raymond Scott, Joe Meek, Robert Wyatt because they create a vaguely underwater atmosphere around me. When I have an imminent deadline I usually listen to things I know that I can follow tapping my foot like Buzzcocks, X-Ray Spex, Television. On the other hand, when I have to mull over an idea I prefer background noise like the cups in the bar, the cars passing by or someone chatting in the distance.

©Olimpia Zagnoli

A secret wish.

To draw an environmental awareness campaign commissioned by Leonardo di Caprio*, ordering Chinese food and discussing it together in his little house next to the pool (which for some time will become my studio), do a beautiful job with little effort and inspire a great number of people to behave more consciously towards our planet.

*it is not absolutely necessary that it should be him.