Isa e Vane

ISAVANE-01-thumb-620x413-76455

My new article for COOL HUNTING

After years of being the go-to caterers in Milan, Isabella Coppini and Vanessa Pellizza Tricarico are familiar faces among the city’s foodies. The pair and their delicious food can now be found at Isa e Vane, a cafe and deli they recently opened together. “I launched the catering company by myself in 2006,” Isabella tells CH, “And Vanessa was my employee, but she was so good that I wanted her to be involved in the business, so she became my partner.”

Everything at Isa e Vane, which takes its name from the owners’ nicknames, is prepared fresh on site each and every day. The recipes are simple, featuring just a few quality ingredients and no artificial flavors. Suppliers are selected based on the quality of their produce, nothing else. “They’re not costly—they’re good!” Coppini says.

The menu is limited so as to ensure the highest quality of in-season ingredients, and culinary fads mean nothing here. “Pink Himalayan salt does not interest us,” Coppini, who oversees a kitchen staff of nearly twenty, says. “Does an ingredient add real value to the plate? Does it actually have a different taste? We never use an ingredient because it is fashionable.”

Similarly, the attention to raw materials is almost obsessive. “My idea was to propose a home-style cooking, with all raw materials and a constant presence of legumes,” Coppini explains. “I was criticized for that choice—they wrote that it is a forced neo-pauperistic cuisine. Actually, I am from Puglia, and in my family you eat a lot of legumes, at least twice a week. Our cuisine is deeply tied to origins and with a southern touch—we use many vegetables and less meat. Every now and then we add an exotic dish, such as chicken curry. But because we love it.” There are also a number of gluten-free dishes, a choice inspired by Coppini’s son who suffers from celiac disease. (A portion of the kitchen is dedicated only to the preparation of gluten-free fare.)

As for the space itself, the light-filled cafe is a perfect spot to lose track of time. Formerly a mechanic shop, a beautiful diamond-patterned tile floor was revealed during restoration. The floor’s white, red and black tiles became the design leitmotif that characterizes all the furnishings. “Everything here is part of a project, but in the end this place has a soul,” Coppini says. “Maybe it will change, but for now we like it, even if the floor is a bit ruined and the walls already have some spots. In here, nothing is random, but you do not get the impression that everything is rehearsed.”

Isa e Vane is located at via Perugino, 1 20135, Milano.

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Giada Flagship Opening in Milan

Giadamilan-2-thumb-620x465-66756My new article for Cool Hunting.

Giada is a unique case of Chinese-owned, Italian-designed fashion branding—and so far the only existing case in the world of luxury. The Asian side is invested in by RedStone Haute Couture, and the European anchor rests in Italy and was created by founder and designer Rosanna Daolio. After 13 years working at MaxMara, Daolio chose to establish a design consulting firm based in Milan in 2000, which slowly turned into a high-end womenswear brand. After a few years of activity, Giada was acquired by Yizheng Zhao, a Chinese entrepreneur with years of experience in luxury fashion trading. Expanding quickly, Giada now has 46 stores and is a reference point for low profile but exclusive style all over China.

Giada’s strategy is to express the best of Italian design and manufacturing: Everything is 100% made in Italy—clothing in the northeast and leather goods in Tuscany—with the best Italian fabrics. Cuts are clean and sleek, and Daolio’s research always moves in the direction of an understated “soft power”—an essential rigor. After years of ever-increasing success in China, Giada decided to launch their first ever European store. Tomorrow, 20 September, the flagship store in Milan—located in the prestigious Via Montenapoleone (the equivalent of NYC’s Fifth Avenue or Paris’ Champs-Élysées)—will open to the public.

The space is masterfully designed by architect Claudio Silvestrin, who is known for classic projects like the Armani flagship stores and new spaces like the Oblix restaurant at The Shard in London. Silvestrin’s approach to architecture is in tune with Giada’s view on fashion; it’s all about quality materials and sleek lines. The three-story space is divided into two retail floors and one showroom. Elegantly bare, the store has no visible furniture or storage, but leaves large areas for fitting rooms and a comfortable white VIP room. CH met with Silvestrin for an exclusive interview during the preview of the store.

Your attitude toward design is very similar to Giada’s. How do you feel about this fine-tuning?

When they approached me, I tried to understand in-depth what they were doing. When I saw the high quality of fabrics and materials and the clean lines, it seemed like they were going to feel my architecture was right because we share the same philosophical principles. I believe it is no coincidence that they have chosen me.

What materials did you use?

I used porphyry of the Dolomites, limestone from Portugal, cast bronze, and natural leather. The leather covers the fitting rooms and has not been treated, so it will have its own life. Even the stone is not polished, so you will see the passing of time.

Did you try to establish a stylistic link with the existing stores in China?

My approach is 100% new. It’s in my nature. They gave me carte blanche, because I have a lot of experience in retail and they knew that I know how to handle spaces. The whole design process took place in a fluid and natural way, without clashes or divergent ideas. Clearly, when I presented the project, they were surprised by the choice of rocks, cast bronze and the other materials. However, both Rosanna and Zhao had great confidence in me. They had trust and intuition; they came with some good insights, we shared them and we found ourselves on the same wavelength.

Plans for Giada’s expansion outside of China are quite ambitious: the opening of the Milan store will be followed by next year’s Madison Avenue store in New York, Sloane Street in London, Avenue Montaigne in Paris and Ginza in Tokyo.

Pavé Milano

pave-8-thumb-620x413-66229My new article for Cool Hunting.

“A living room with a laboratory” is how Pavé defines itself. Located in Milan in the trendy area of Porta Venezia, this bakery and pastry shop represents a singular case of young entrepreneurship and quest for quality in food. Pavé was born just 16 months ago with a specific focus on breakfast and tasty treats, but has soon become a reference point in quality pastry and bread. The proof came a few months ago, when the prestigious food and wine magazine Gambero Rosso awarded Pavé as one of the 20 best bakeries in Italy. Recently, they were recognized as one of the best 20 bars in the nation.

The highlight of this informal yet sophisticated place is La 160, an incredibly crispy croissant stuffed with a rare apricot marmalade, and—like all the other bakery products on display—this marvel is freshly made every day. Pavé’s offerings include delicious pastries and cakes, each of which have a name like Germano, Cumenda, Tonka, and sometimes a nickname too. Chocolate bars, creams and honey complete the offering. The menu also includes paninis, cheese and cured meat platters, wines, beers and soft drinks, for which the search for ingredients is constant and meticulous. And every afternoon they bake fresh bread, exclusively from aged yeast.

Owners Diego Bamberghi, Giovanni Giberti and Luca Scanni answered some questions and gave Cool Hunting a preview of the new space, refurbished and restored during the month of August.

Why did you decide to leave your previous jobs and open Pavé?

Giberti: The idea of Pavé was born in February 2011, when we met and expressed the desire to create a place that reflects our personality and our passions. We found ourselves in the middle of our worst and best moments at the same time—the worst because our satisfaction at work was close to zero, especially considering the expressive potential in front of us. The best for the same reason: The desire to get involved with something new that could revolutionize our lives was making us feel ready for anything.

Is your basic idea traditionally Italian or more international?

Scanni: Our adventure is probably deeply Milanese in its stimuli—the desire to slow down the city’s rhythm, to use informality as a key, to be patient by only choosing products made at the moment. Our offerings are also tied to Italian tradition and heritage, thanks to our culture and the raw materials that we choose. The international focus of Pavé is surely the result of our experiences around the world (reflected in the furniture and the retail formula) but above all, we want internationality to be a feeling for our guests and customers. We want them to experience a place that is a little Milanese and very European.

When people tell us “this doesn’t seem like Milan, it’s like being in Europe,”—this is praise but also a warning. It is a sentence that we gladly accept as a compliment but, at the same time, underlies the amazement of those who do not expect that Milan can be innovative again. Milan is Europe, it’s the world! It is time for Milan to be able to overcome its fears and limited views. Thank goodness in the last two to three years, this is happening—and with very good results.

You just opened last year and your popularity in Milan is incredible. How can you explain such rapid success?

Bamberghi: First of all, we’d never expected such feedback. Several times we’ve tried to figure out why Pavé has been chosen by so many people. We have given more than one answer: The informality, the open-view laboratory that makes the customer see the craft production, the attention we pay to every single product, the philosophy of producing 100% inside of our laboratory, the search for a combination of innovation, tradition and simplicity. Pavé is really a reflection of those people who work here; our staff is made of under-30-year-olds who have heart and have embraced the philosophy of “doing good food, preparing it well, serving it in the right way.” We’ve been lucky to find such guys!

After a year and more of activity, can you tell us what’s more important—the living room or the lab?

Giberti: Furniture and production are complementary so that the message of Pavé arrives in the correct manner. But we believe that the laboratory plays the main role, since it represents the heart of the space. It is also the area we expect to remain distinctive. In a sector in which everyone is talking about high-quality raw materials and craftsmanship, we take a step further; adding the value of 100% visible on-site production.

We want to bring the concept of transparency to an even higher level. We want the production to be expressed as a tangible value for our guests. From mixing to baking to packaging, everything happens within Pavé. It is a complex concept to transfer because it is often shunned, or worse, taken for granted. It is also something unique and beautiful, that we feel compelled to tell. As you can see, all priorities originated from the laboratory, without renouncing the “Grandma’s house” living room of which we are all fond of.

You recently refurbished and renovated for a new image. What has changed? What stays the same?

Scanni and Bamberghi: Let’s start by saying that there were no revolutions but some accurate updates. We have slightly changed the color of the walls and worked on the seating chart to encourage a better sharing of the space. We have positioned some outdoor benches for those who want to sit outside during cocktail hours. Above all, we thought that a lot of the exhibition space in a bakery must occupy a wider area than before. The centerpiece of the space is now the new four meter high buffet, dedicated to the many products that will come out very soon with a new packaging, a “very Pavé” packaging. And no need to panic—the sofa is still there. In the living rooms there are always a sofa and couch!

For more information about Pavé Milano, visit the website.

Il ritorno di Stan

STAN_SMITH_PROFILE_lowDa avido consumatore, non posso essere che felice per l’annunciato ritorno delle Stan Smith.

Adidas me l’ha fatta grossa un paio d’anni fa, quando ha deciso di toglierla dal mercato, ma da oggi è disponibile a New York (ma solo da Barneys in Madison Avenue ) e presto sarà distribuita anche nel resto del mondo, aggiornata ma non troppo, con eventi mirati soprattutto alle Fashion e Art Week. La commercializzazione vera e propria avverrà dal 2014.

La Stan Smith è una di quelle icone che ha segnato la storia delle calzature, assieme a pochi altri modelli. E non è una “sneaker”, ma una “scarpa da tennis”, nel vero senso della parola. Ha un nome, un volto, un brand, una forma semplice e una versatilità d’uso che pochi modelli hanno. Come il vino buono più invecchia più è bella: nella mia scarpiera ce n’è sempre un paio malridotto, un paio usato poco, un paio nuovo ancora nella scatola, che non si sa mai. Più qualche paio che sta stagionando. Nei viaggi davvero importanti le ho usate e poi abbandonate nell’ultima tappa prima di tornare a casa, per poi comprarne di nuove al ritorno a casa.

Sono felice di sapere che potrò riprendere il mio rito col mito.

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Gli indignati e i silenziosi

pradadg.001-219 luglio 2013: i negozi milanesi di Dolce&Gabbana chiusi per indignazione.

20 luglio 2013: apre il nuovo negozio di Prada in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele.

In due soli giorni si sono visti due eventi molto diversi, difficilmente paragonabili, geograficamente vicini, ma che hanno espresso due stili distanti, due approcci forti e opposti nel concepire il rapporto tra moda e città, tra stilisti e Comune di Milano. Si è vista la differenza tra chi grida e chi sussurra, tra chi si scompone e urla per una (brutta, bruttissima) frase fuori posto e tra chi cerca accordi e fa qualcosa di vero e duraturo per la città. Se da una parte c’è chi inizia un percorso di lungo termine, che proseguirà nel progetto di creare spazi inclusivi e gratuiti per Milano (la Fondazione Prada), dall’altra c’è chi è solito comprare edifici per trasformarli in spazi privati, aperti su invito solo in occasione di feste esclusive (il Metropol).

Icona di questa vicenda saranno le immagini scattate da giornalisti e turisti, ma anche le due pagine uscite lo stesso giorno su La Repubblica: quelle di Prada che raccontano di un progetto snob e celebrativo, quelle di Dolce&Gabbana in cui si racconta (con un tono da melodramma e un’impaginazione approssimativa) il perché dello stato d’animo piccato, con tanto di intervento degli avvocati.

Entrambi i marchi cercano il profitto facendo cose belle: questo è il loro lavoro. Ma con una visione dell’impresa e dello stile diametralmente opposte. Che si esprimono non solo in scarpe e accessori, ma anche nel modo di comunicare e di mettersi in relazione con clienti e istituzioni.

Muà Gelatieri d’Italia

My new article for Cool Hunting.

On a recent trip to Istanbul we got to experience that magic mixture of Europe and Asia—the harmonic balance of historic venues and international retail chains, the reflections of lights on tiles and the Bosphorus, the best aubergines, the young crowd on Istiklal Avenue. We did not necessarily expect to find good ice cream, so were pleasantly surprised to stumble upon Muà Gelatieri d’Italia.

Muà Gelatieri d’Italia is a recently launched small chain of Italian gelato shops. The first to open is located by the sea in the hip Yeniköy neighborhood. The design of the interior is based on the playful contrast of white and pink colors, with the omnipresent logo of a shocking pink mouth miming the kiss that inspires the onomatopoeic “muà” name. During the warm season, clients can also enjoy a nice outdoor space.

Florentine entrepreneur Elena Pallotta decided to quit a well-established real estate career in order to pursue her ice cream dream. “After finding a group of investors,” Pallotta tells CH, “I left my beautiful house in Tuscany, moved to Turkey and started from scratch. At the beginning I had to take care of every aspect, from construction details to the search for the perfect ingredients.”

Every flavor is naturally prepared in the adjacent laboratory with strictly seasonal ingredients and without preservatives or chemicals. Some of our favorites include hazelnut (made with the Turkish staple), chocolate (which comes in two choices, with or without milk), locally-sourced banana and kaymak, a Turkish version of clotted cream. Passing on Turkish dondurma—a kind of gummy ice cream—the young gelateria is already being hailed as the best frozen treat in town. In addition to gelato, Muà offers coffee and cold desserts, freshly made from recipes merging Italian tradition with Turkish taste.

The second store is located in the Göktürk Merkez, while a third will be opened on the 4 July 2012 in the trendy neighborhood of Cihangir.

La sostanza del Pavé

Dopo diverse visite posso dire a ragion veduta  che Pavé è il più interessante nuovo locale di Milano. Nonostante si trovi a due passi da dove lavoro, l’ho scoperto in un passaggio tra Twitter e The Breakfast Review pochi giorni dopo l’apertura. Questo progetto si proclama “soggiorno con laboratorio di pasticceria” e nasce pensando di proporre soprattutto colazioni e merende. E le belle sorprese non mancano.

Oltre alla già mitica La160 (il croissant definitivo, che ospita una marmellata fatta con un rapporto di frutta 100:160), alla memorabile sbrisolona (e lo dice un mantovano, neh), ai sublimi panini con il pane fatto in casa (rigorosamente da lievito madre e abbrustolito ad arte), ai salumi e ai formaggi DOP, la cosa che più sbalordisce è l’autenticità del luogo e di tutto quello che avviene al suo interno. Infatti, fin dalla prima visita tutto mi sembra lì da un sacco di tempo: l’impressione più forte non è di essere finiti in un locale aperto da da poco, ma in un’attività commerciale sempre esistita e mai notata.

Pavé è nato dalla passione Giovanni, Luca e Diego (feat. MariaSole), tre amici che hanno creato un posto per uscire sentendosi a casa, messo in piedi con calma e tenacia, arredato con mobili di recupero accuratamente scelti e sistemati. L’effetto genuinità è anche garantito dai video che raccontano la storia di tanti piccoli momenti della genesi e degli oggetti che si trovano nel locale, scelti e disposti con cura e gusto, all’insegna di “riuso, riciclo e rigattieri”. Il risultato: quando si arriva per la prima volta tutto sembra già familiare. Ma attenzione, non è la sensazione frutto di un’abile strategia di comunicazione, un effetto di realtà: è la realtà vera, quella cosa che spesso ci dimentichiamo e che ci sorprende più di un flashmob.

Qualche piccola ingenuità è ancora da correggere (il motore è ancora in rodaggio), ma la si perdona volentieri di fronte alla voglia di fare qualcosa di bello e nuovo, in ogni senso. Infatti qui si trova il meglio dell’operosità più antica e il le tendenze alimentari più attuali, ma tutto è miscelato così bene che nemmeno te ne accorgi. E considerando che a due passi ci sono locali che esprimono il meglio della vuota apparenza modaiola in chiave panettiera, beh, speriamo proprio che i ragazzi di Pavé siano in grado di dimostrare che la sostanza è una bellissima idea imprenditoriale