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Matera | Elisa&Janna

Here's one of those magical partnerships, a case of - to paraphrase Aristotle -  the whole being undeniably greater than the sum of its nevertheless remarkable parts. When I first met Johanna Curti she was quite rightly floundering in Matera, desperately in need of an outlet for innate creative and business talents to follow a decade in London as a ...

Rome | Established 1938

There's not many people know this, but bang in the centre of today's Rome there's still a tiny workshop where the same family has been plying the same skills for nearly 85 years. Only since 1961 at their present address in Via del Leoncino, mind you. The name of the family is Gualdani, and their trade is making lampshades, mostly to ...

Cesena | Staying on the Treadmill

In a country where everyone’s talking about wellness [wél-nés] and fitness [fi:tnés], few know that one of the top-ranking fitness-equipment manufacturers in the world is based in Emilia Romagna, in Cesena to be precise, about an hour down the road from Bologna. Technogym is the name on the familiar black-and-yellow logo, an emblematic 30-year success story in the business world and …

Salerno | Marsia

Having studied ceramics myself way back in another life in Cape Town, I’m partial to potters. Marsia is one of my latest finds. I stumbled on the studio quite by chance one steamy afternoon last summer, in the laid-back seaside city of Salerno, right opposite the duomo. Mariella Siano, ceramic designer, has a tiny shop filled with fragile bounty in rich …

Genoa | Cashmere Technology

I met Andrea Moretti quite by chance in Genoa, the home town he loves and where he opened the store which showcases his ingenious cashmere product. Moa is the name of the shop, bang in the centre of town, and Moatech the patented textile Andrea dreamed up a few years ago to replace down in quilted clothing. Using the finest …

Verona | Hell’s Kitchen

Marco Lai was fixing a puncture on his bike when he had his eureka moment. It was the inner tube that did it. The young designer with eco-attitude, reluctant to throw the old one in the bin, envisaged a new life for it, a Frog-Prince transformation into something good-looking, functional and long-lasting. City wear. City-proof. And then came the name, Hell’s …

Sesto Fiorentino | On the Shelf

We don’t usually go in for sad news on UI, but the imminent closure of Tuscany‘s own Richard Ginori warrants an exception. Makers of majolica and fine china since 1735 in Doccia and later in nearby Sesto Fiorentino, Richard Ginori attracted some of the best designers, sculptors and decorators to its factory, where top-of-the-range industrial tableware production never eclipsed an exceptional artistic tradition. Gio Ponti …

Turin | This is not an Optional!

When some new technogadget boasts a list of functions as long as your arm, over here they say it even makes the coffee. Well, the new Fiat 500L does just that. Presented in Turin at the beginning of the month, the little crossover model with compact-car efficiency but the feel of an SUV (says Fiat), which actually looks suspiciously like a …

Cattolica | Fast Flowers

Where do Italians go to beat the heat? To the seaside, of course: it’s a no-brainer on this thigh-high boot of a peninsula with fully 7,666 kilometres of coastline if you include Sicily and Sardinia. Well, Frida‘s has gone to the seaside this year too. The ready-made cheap-and-chic flowers brand has recently opened a new store in Cattolica on the riviera …

Milan | G.A.B.

Sourcing and selecting only superlative Italian products, G.A.B. is a new Milanese boutique-showroom for clothing and accessories, leather goods and interior design, with a concept all its own. Patrizia Campagnari and Claudio Alghisi pooled their business experiences and their faith in the excellence of Italian products, and opened the store a few months ago in a quiet, elegant quarter of town …

Grottaglie | Giovanna Alò

We’re back in Apulia and hot on the heels of a young ceramics designer whose first, innovative tableware line is as striking as it is inspired. Giovanna Alò hails from a dynasty of master potters in Grottaglie and modelled clay before she could walk. For more formal training she took a course in Industrial Design at Rome’s La Sapienza university, before …

Milan | Design Week Appetizer

Just a tiny morsel, a mere soupçon, a humble titbit from the new products on show at the 2012 Saloni and Fuorisalone, hardly scratching the surface of the immense international display of irrepressible creativity and implausible diversity which started today. Serralunga of Biella, of the inspired shapes in moulded plastics for indoors and out, is presenting Notre Dame, tables with one or two 3-legged trestles …