The Creative Academy’s Zodiac exhibition: 12 unique pieces conceived by Creative Academy students and realised by Master Ceramist Tonino Negri

17 APR 2023

From the celestial vault to the Sala Azzurra at Palazzo Litta, to the Van Cleef & Arpels boutique, the signs of the zodiac take shape and tell timeless stories. Zodiac: twelve design objects conceived by the Creative Academy students and realised by Master Ceramist Tonino Negri.

Zodiac is an exhibition conceived by Creative Academy, Richemont International Design School, with the support of Van Cleef & Arpels and in partnership with the Cologni Foundation for the Métiers d’Art, as part of “Arts&Crafts&Design a Palazzo Litta”. The renowned French High Jewellery Maison supported the project and provided the inspiration, nourishing the imagination of 20 young designers with its collection dedicated to the Western Zodiac. In the expert hands of Tonino Negri, Master Ceramist, the creative ideas of the students will be moulded into design objects.

It seems that what we possess, as the most intimate and secret knowledge of ourselves, is written in the heavens. To know my most individual and truest character I have to delve into the skies, I cannot see it directly in myself(Carl Gustav Jung)

Creative Academy students were asked to “delve into the skies”, become aware of being part of a whole and find themselves in one of the signs of the zodiac. An ancient exercise that has always brought cultures together: just think that the zodiac wheel can be found in Babylon as in India, in Egypt as in the Americas. This year, it also brought together 20 young design talents coming from no less than 11 countries around the world. A heterogeneity that enriches the students' learning experience through constant interaction between different cultural backgrounds.

In the Zodiac exhibition, the four fundamental elements - Fire, Earth, Air and Water - are joined by a fifth: ceramic. A simple and enduring material that embodies the history of human beings, art and technique. For Zodiac, the students designed unique pieces, which were then translated into concrete forms by the Master Ceramist.

The Creative Academy S Zodiac Exhibition A Kaleidoscopic Journey Of Ceramic Craftsmanship 900X600 1

The Creative Academy S Zodiac Exhibition A Kaleidoscopic Journey Of Ceramic Craftsmanship 900X600 2

In the context of the Master of Arts in Design and Applied Arts, Zodiac is a project designed to promote dialogue between designers and Master Craftsmen. Since 2003, Creative Academy selects young design talents and prepares them to enter the world of luxury as designers of jewellery, watches and accessories. The Master is a special post-graduate program characterised by bringing students in close contact with the Creative Studios of the Richemont Maisons. One of the fundamental points of the training course is the enhancement of the Métiers d’Art. This year, Creative Academy proudly celebrates its 20th Anniversary: during the last two decades, the School has been paving the way for successful careers, with many of the Alumni currently contributing to the future of the Richemont Maisons.

Tonino Negri has established himself as one of the great Masters of contemporary ceramics. Tradition and innovation meet in his works, in which suggestions from the world of theatre and stage design are often recognisable. Just as the horoscope finds its origin in the four elements (Fire, Earth, Air and Water), Negri develops his production around the idea that ceramics, a material as pure as it is archaic, can contain these primordial elements to tell timeless stories.

The Creative Academy S Zodiac Exhibition A Kaleidoscopic Journey Of Ceramic Craftsmanship

Zodiac is a kaleidoscopic journey through legends and myths from all over the world. The visitor will discover that Taurus can be associated with the hymn to freedom sung by the Mexican Quetzal bird, while Gemini comes out in the double-faced Vėjapūtis, the Baltic god of the wind. With an Algerian touch, the pride of people born in Leo will take shape in a majestic crown, whereas the harmony of Libra will be depicted with Native American aesthetics.

The Zodiac exhibition is completed by an immersive stage setting: twelve majestic sculptures hold the objects from the collection, allowing visitors to experience a 'face-to face' with their own zodiac sign. This special encounter is framed by the Sala Azzurra of Palazzo Litta, a symbolic building of the Milanese Baroque style.

Zodiac also brings its mystery to the Van Cleef & Arpels boutique in via Monte Napoleone, with the unrepeatable opportunity to discover six more works from the exhibition. In this exclusive location, the evocative atmosphere of Palazzo Litta is recreated, with six imposing statues displaying the design objects resulting from the synergy between the Creative Academy students and Master Craftsman Tonino Negri, in dialogue with Van Cleef & Arpels' Zodiaque jewellery collection. The latter offers new interpretations of the signs of the Western Zodiac and celebrates emblematic creations from its heritage. Whether in pure gold or combining with the nuances of ornamental stones, suffusing each sign with special character, the jewellery creations blend together the wonder inspired by observing the heavenly bodies and the nature that the Maison holds so dear. Two sources of inspirations that visitors will also be able to discover in the design objects on display in the basement of the Milanese boutique.

18-23 APRIL 2023 | 10.00 AM – 7.00 PM

17-23 APRIL 2023 | 10.00 AM – 7.30 PM



Creative Academy is the Corporate Design School founded in 2003 by Richemont, specialised in the design of jewellery, watches and accessories. The school offers the Master of Arts in Design and Applied Arts, a postgraduate course that each year trains twenty young creative talents coming from around the world. With a concrete approach and a faculty made up mostly of leading figures of the Group (CEO, Creative Directors, etc.), the Master, which has a total duration of ten months, allows students to learn and practice for seven months in Milan and then it offers the most deserving students the exclusive opportunity to conclude the training course with three months of internship in one of the creative studios of Richemont. The didactic program is developed through projects, specialised seminars and constant interaction with the Richemont Maisons, which include brands such as Buccellati, Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, A. Lange & Söhne, Baume & Mercier, IWC Schaffhausen, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Panerai, Piaget, Roger Dubuis, Vacheron Constantin, Alaïa, AZ Factory, Chloé, Delvaux, Dunhill, Montblanc, Peter Millar, Purdey, Serapian.


Born in Lodi, Tonino Negri has established himself as one of the great Masters of contemporary ceramics. Tradition and innovation meet in his works, in which suggestions from the world of theatre and stage design are often recognisable. He has developed his own approach to materials and processes, realising sculptures as well as large installations for squares and parks. His atelier Terra Crea is a magical place populated by primitive and symbolic characters.


Cologni Foundation for the Métiers D’art is a private non-profit institution, founded in Milan in 1995 by the will of Franco Cologni, who is its President. It promotes a series of cultural, scientific and popular initiatives for the protection and dissemination of the arts. With the editorial series «Mestieri d'Arte» and «Ricerche» (Marsilio Editori), it aims to reconstruct historically the reality of these activities of excellence to the present day, looking at the great tradition of Italian savoir-faire. With Carthusia he published the series «Storietalentuose», created to make young people know and love the professions of the great Italian artisan tradition. He conceived and produced the biannual magazine «Mestieri d'Arte & Design. Crafts Culture», dedicated to the excellence of know-how and design, distributed to subscribers of Elle Decor Italia and in important and prestigious institutions and museums of applied arts. With the training placements of the project « Una Scuola, un Lavoro. Percorsi di Eccellenza» actively supports the training of young people in high craftsmanship and their inclusion in the world of work.


Founded at Paris’ 22 Place Vendôme in 1906, Van Cleef & Arpels came into being following Estelle Arpels’ marriage to Alfred Van Cleef in 1895. Over the decades, the excellence and creativity of the High Jewelry and Watchmaking Maison established its reputation across the world. With a blend of inventiveness and poetry, Van Cleef & Arpels perpetuates a highly distinctive style that has produced numerous signatures: the Mystery Set technique, the Minaudière precious case, the transformable Zip necklace and the Alhambra motif. Its selection of exceptional gems that instill an emotion and the savoir-faire of the virtuoso craftsmen in its workshops have given birth to enchanting jewelry and watchmaking collections. Whether inspired by nature, couture, dance or imaginary worlds, the Maison opens the gate to a timeless universe of beauty and harmony.


EligoStudio is an interior design and design studio founded in 2011 by Alberto Nespoli and Domenico Rocca with a diverse and transversal portfolio with developed projects in Europe, North America and China. EligoStudio combines the experience of timeless techniques to the design of new contemporary spaces. Each project has its own uniqueness and brings with it the charm of Italian design. EligoStudio summarises the key concepts of Italian lifestyle in interior design projects for retail, hotels, fairs, sets, catering and exclusive private residences.


Fine craftsmanship and creativity will be on show once again in the magnificent halls of Palazzo Litta, the historical palace entrusted to the Regional Secretariat of the Italian Ministry of Culture. Thanks to its ongoing partnership with Fondazione Cologni dei Mestieri d'Arte, which includes seminars, lectures, events and exhibitions open to the public, Palazzo Litta has become one of the most important venues where the cultures of craftsmanship and design meet. Fondazione Cologni will present its acclaimed programme "Arts&Crafts&Design at Palazzo Litta" as part of Milan Design Week 2023. From 18 to 23 April, it will be possible to visit five exhibitions exploring the dialogue between craft skills and project design.


  1. Gianluca Pacchioni, artist and master artisan, will display his talent in the Richini courtyard with Time, a site-specific sculpture based on the theme of time that enhances the colours of a magnificent natural stone.
  2. In the Esedra hall, designer Sara Ricciardi presents La Grande Bellezza, by Starhotels, handcrafted manufacturing and poetic design are the pinnacle of the project promoted by Starhotels which supports fine Italian craftsmanship in collaboration with Fondazione Cologni, OMA and Gruppo Editoriale.
  3. In the Ducal apartment on the first floor, the Michelangelo Foundation, Fondazione Cologni and Living Corriere della Sera will present the seventh edition of "Doppia Firma", in which 24 couples of artisans and designers from all over the world express the value of their creative dialogues. Two of the couples are featured in the "Artijanus / Artijanas" programme, developed under the curatorship of Triennale Milano.
  4. Bonacina 1889 will showcase its new collection Francis Sultana X Bonacina, furnishing accessories in woven natural fibres created in collaboration with London designer and decorator Francis Sultana, in the halls adjacent to the gallery on the first floor.
  5. Also on the first floor, Creative Academy, Richemont Group's international design school, will present Zodiac, a tribute to "constellations" curated by Eligo Studio, resulting from the collaboration between the 20 students and Lodi-based master ceramicist Tonino Negri.