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.

Let there be dark

Lo scorso ottobre ho passato due giorni a Tokyo, inviato da Cool Hunting per seguire un progetto di Heineken. In una notte, mi hanno fatto visitare cinque tra le discoteche più belle della città.

Oltre a scattare centinaia di foto, ho girato qualche video, che ho montato fino ad ottenere questo corto.

Open Design Explorations

My new article from Cool Hunting

At the most recent Milan Design Week Heineken launched a global project to design the club of the future. After an international competition and a year-long research process, the nightlife destination will be actually built and unveiled at the 2012 Salone del Mobile.

To get inspiration, the Open Design Explorations brings the winning group of young designers to the best clubs on the planet. Taking place in São Paulo, New York, Milan and Tokyo, Heineken invited us to take part in the Japanese phase of the investigation.

Following an introductory session where all the designers to met and began the process, we tagged along with a group of three Japanese and one English designers continuing the analysis. The four are tasked with observing people and their behaviors—not just the design of the venues.

First up was the fashionable Air in Daikanyama district, famously where Sofia Coppola shot some scenes of “Lost In Translation.” Like all the other clubs we’ll visit, the dance floor is below ground level and the music plays loudly. An all-red VIP room and an area with tables and sofas allows for chatting, drinking and smoking (common in every restaurant and bar in Japan). The music selection includes American music of the late ’70s and early ’80s, great for having a good time—but most seemed to observe rather than dance, probably because it was only just past midnight.

Sure enough, the crowd is starting to arrive when we leave to reach the next club, Unit. Here, the music and the crowd are completely different. In the main area, the deejay plays a mixture of hip-hop, electro and trip-hop. People listen rather than dance, more like a concert-style scenario. One floor down, a bar provides an area for relaxing and (like most of the kids) checking mobile phones. Outside, staff kindly asks us to stay quiet—this is a residential area and, as some signs clearly state, the neighborhood deserves to rest.

Next stop is the Ebisu district, destination Liquidroom. The first area is a large quiet bar; the music isn’t too loud and it’s easy to relax and interact with others. Downstairs there’s a food area, once again almost without music, where club-goers can relax, drink, smoke and eat traditional street food. In the next room, a large dance floor is crowded with revelers drawn to the music played by Mungolian Jetset, a bunch of colorful and pretty peculiar guys in love with the sounds of the Italo Disco and ’80s music. The crowd really appreciates the performance, dancing and screaming throughout.

But the long night out isn’t over, continuing at Eleven, a place for a younger and wilder generation. The Japanese designers that are working at the Heineken project are pretty excited, since this is one of the most popular venues for nightclubbing in Tokyo. Über-pink walls and light in the lounge zone vividly contrast with an extremely dark dance area. The excellent audio system reproduces neat and powerful sounds, while every single person dances alone, randomly lit up by slow and delicate spotlights in just a few pale colors.

It’s almost five in the morning when we head up to our last stop. Module is very close to the Shibuya Crossing, astonishingly empty at this time of day. Here, the designers and the team finally have the chance to relax and party. Pretty small and retro, the venue feels like a cozy, dusty Victorian house—the contrast with the b-boys filling the place couldn’t be stronger. The deejays play vinyl records and choose pop music of the ’60s and ’70s, plus some old kitschy soundtracks.