"The idea for MÁGATA came to me whilst I was closer to the sea and the sky, to preserve what Agata herself had taught me: locally made, by hand, and with care."
Mágata designer Marina Elli.png
Can you tell us more about how Magata Studio came to be?  

MÁGATA is a succession of puzzle pieces starting with my grandmother Agata and our shared and strong passion for textiles and colour, as a medium for expression, fun, and magic.
I can easily say that most of what I know about fashion and fabric, as well as what to wear and how to wear it – comes from her.

She would often bring me along with her to the seamstress’s boutique – a place that almost doesn't exist anymore – in between tea, measuring and styling, and lots of other women. I remember beautiful afternoons spent like this. Through those sessions, Agata taught me the value of craft, and that when people are aware of an object is made, with what and by whom, this will less easily be forgotten or wasted.

Agata

The idea for MÁGATA came to me in2020, whilst I was in the Mediterranean, closer to the sea and the sky. I had been working as a designer in the fashion industry for the previous five years, and become increasingly concerned with its throwaway culture and the low standards of quality.

I was feeling blue and confused about the environment I was working with so I decided to take a break from everything and reflect on my next step. By the sea, I gathered my childhood memories and beliefs, and I understood that I wanted to begin my own venture: to create slow design – influenced by my love for nature, culture and travelling – and connected with my roots.

Through my grandmother and my work, I had come to believe that sustainable fashion is about the way you wear your personal belongings, and how these should adapt to you, instead of the opposite. That we can produce locally, by hand, with love and compassion for the people and our sister, the Earth.

What does MÁGATA mean?

In Sicilian dialect, MÁGATA means "enchanted". It is also a blend of my name "Marina" and my grandmother's Agata. I interpret the name as a reminder for everyone to follow our roots, our femininity, memories, and magic.

How do you choose the materials you work with?

I believe that fashion should borrow ingredients from nature, returning to it once its purpose is finished. This means that we need to use plants able to grow thanks to rainwater and without pesticides. Hemp and linen make naturally biodegradable fabric that does not pollute the soil and can be recycled. Even better if dye-less.

I start the design from the fabric, researching on its properties, its life cycle and available certifications. I make sure that every dyeing and finishing treatment is also certified for human and environmental respect by Bluesign® or GOTS.

Mágata Mediterranean inspiration

What are some of the best lessons you have learned on your creative journey?

When I started this project, I thought it would be easier, and faster. But I soon understood that when you make pieces that celebrate slowness, it feels wrong to expect everything to happen at once. I leaned that good timing and planning it's very important and to make things with calm. I work with artisans, and they have their time table.

Why did you start your project in Berlin and not in Italy where you come from?  

After studying in Florence, I moved first to London, and then to Berlin. There I drew inspiration from the creative energy of the German capital...The rest followed ;)
Also, I couldn’t find a better place than home to combine know-how and high manufacturing qualities.

I feel very lucky to live in Berlin, travelling often to Italy to oversee the creation process of the MÁGATA pieces, and to stay in direct contact with all the amazing artisans that make everything possible.

 

Interview by Inés Del Castillo for Fellissima