iSHONi - The world, reflected in decorative design.
ABOUT MANUELA FEDERICA
“As I walked along the different neighborhoods of New York and observed people from so many different cultures from around the world I was inspired to bring together the elegant essence of the human condition through elements of their own expression. The connection between cultures and eras seems to me to be part of the beauty of the human experience which we are privileged to share together across time.”
Born in Thun, Switzerland, Manuela Federica’s creative path
was fated from an early age: her mother is the Swiss-Italian writer
Federica de Cesco who dedicated her life to her creativity since she published her first book in 1957, at the age of 16.
Manuela Federica lives with a Greek film producer near Geneva.
When Manuela turned 6, her parents sadly separated and her mother left the family. To deal with this painful situation she searched for emotional harmony and peace. She used exercise books to make connections between repetitions and shapes, as if subconsciously trying to reunite separations. During the first years of school she devoted her free time to the design of harmonious patterns and ornaments which took on even more beautiful dimensions. 1981, Parisian Dominican priest Père Raymond Léopold Bruckberger visited her mother. Manuela, during the rare encounters with her mother, had offered her some of her early drawings. The Père Bruckberger saw these drawings at her mother’s place, decided to take them to Paris and showed them to Leila Menchari, the famous director of the Serivce Décoratif of HERMES.
Leila Menchari has been very impressed so that she sent Manuela, who just turned 16, a first letter encouraging her to continue with her art.
And a second letter followed shortly later.
But also the family on her father’s side was for generations linked in friendships with famous artists, authors and scientists such as Paul Klee, Hans Erni, Jean Cocteau, Simon Wiesenthal, Carl Zuckmayer and Marc Chagall. Manuela Federica developed an admiration for the lifestyle of these people who had dedicated their entire lives to their passion. She suspected that such devotion could develop into a real meaning of life.
“I was fortunate to grow up in a family where artists, travelers, writers, and scientists have maintained friend ships with each other for generations. This cultural background
has strongly influenced my work, so I have always been fascinated by the
beauty of different cultures and arts. With my work I desire to highlight the connection that unites the essence of human beings across time and cultures.”
Manuela was independent from an early age and stood on her own two feet. At the age of 16, she moved out of home. Her training as a designer of art books at Benteli Verlag (Ted Scapa) was not yet completed when she decided to live off her apprentice's salary. Later, at the age of 23, she became a young mother but her partner left the family early. Thanks to her positive view of life and people in general, she led her life in a self-determined way and developed her own creativity in which harmony always played an important a role, as much as her desire to give her child a happy childhood.
Reflecting on Leila Menchari's letters of encouragement who helped her to orient herself professionally, she decided to build her career self-taught on what Leila Menchari recognized in her as a talent. Over the next few years Manuela has developed her very own stylistic language, which was strongly influenced by her multicultural family environment. Thanks in part to the early influence of her mother who has lived in many countries and her Japanese stepfather, she developed a great openness and respect to different cultures. A family friend who has been particularly close to her was Hadj Moussa Ag Akhamouk, the late Amenokal of the Kel Ahaggar who lived with the family in Switzerland for a few months in 1968 to write a book with her parents about the Tuareg.
"At the end of the day we're all the same.
And it is the Good in each one of us and what connects us,
that interests me."
(Manuela Federica with Hadj Moussa Ag Akhamouk in 1970 (left), and with her mother, Swiss author Federica de Cesco and her Japanese stepfather Kazujuky Kitamura in 2022)
In 1996 Manuela Federica founded her company iSHONi Design. "iSHONi" means "Together" in Japanese, and "Beautiful" in the Navajo Indian language. She works for international design brands and projects from the luxury segment. In her elegant art, Manuela Federica reveals a strong and suggestive interrelation between elements, cultures and eras that merge into each other. Believing in a spiritual dimension of art in general, she believes that art can be stronger than any other medium: "art can touch souls and transmit infinite areas of knowledge that transcends time in many dimensions". The dynamics of the merging elements in her work makes emotions calm and full of energy. Love for her simply means being humble and grateful for being part of this incredible nature and universe we live in. Her creations are works of art, capable of transcending cultural boundaries and times. Manuela Federica plays with archetypal elements and light to create new multidimensional expressions.
Her decorative collections are sold in the most important capitals of the world.