Guest Interview n°24: Liselotte Watkins


Guest Interview n°24: Liselotte Watkins

You’ve seen her illustrations. If not in magazines like Elle or D Della Repubblica, then on the catwalk for Miu Miu or on her special-edition bottle of Absolut. With a fascination for the nude and Italian architecture, her work is captivating, crowd-pleasing and multifaceted. She could never imagine doing anything other than drawing, and is a busy bee, at the moment finalizing work for several publications and fashion clients.

The Blogazine was lucky enough to catch up with Liselotte Watkins for a long conversation, just a few weeks before Salone del Mobile where her collaboration with Valextra will debut.

Your illustrations are recognizable to the masses, yet your actual identity is quite enigmatic. You even have your own Absolut Vodka! So, who exactly is the real Liselott Watkins?
Haha! I didn’t know I was that mysterious! I’m an illustrator and the most important thing is that my drawings are visible. I have never felt the need to be seen personally. The fact that I have my own Vodka is a little crazy and very fun! However, it feels like the Vodka is for my drawings more than for me.

How did your success get its start?
Success is such a vague conception. I feel that every project I get and every drawing that I do is a success. I rarely feel nostalgic and I’m terrified of the day when I’ll feel content. What is most important is now, and what you do. To just sit and look at your work and feel satisfied is too counterproductive. Upward forward!

What does your creative process look like?
I have just started to photograph a lot as a basis for my images. Every occasion is a challenge. I usually work a lot with models and that collaboration is quite inspiring. What I’m trying to do is to convey a feeling to the models and explain a process. I’m not the greatest behind a camera but the models are extremely talented and make my job so much easier. Afterwards I draw by hand and if I need colour I use the computer. To tint, I always use Photoshop which is not too practical since it is designed for photographers. However, I do like that you can see my lines instead of the computer’s re-made ones.

You’re Swedish, but work from Italy. Are there noticeable differences between the Swedish and Italian creative industries?
I still work a lot with Sweden and other countries, but it has been great fun beginning to work here as well. It’s nice to have collaborations where you are based. It gets much more personal in a way. The fashion here has a much greater history and the craftsmanship is amazing. That’s very inspiring. It’s such a big part of Milan and the present, since you run into co-workers on your free time. The fashion in Sweden has become much stronger in recent years but is still small in comparison with Italy.

How much inspiration can one find in Milan?
A lot! I love the aesthetics in this city. I’ve started to draw plenty more architectural and surroundings since I arrived here. I share my office with two architectural firms, which might be one source of inspiration. Everyday I see things which leaves me speechless. Say, when opening the gates to a palazzo and being struck by these amazing, secret gardens. It’s just incredible how much beauty that lays hidden here in Milan. On the other hand, the fashion isn’t very eccentric or exciting. It’s very much “same old.” A bit more playfulness couldn’t hurt!

And about your collaboration with Miu Miu… how on Earth did your illustrations end up on the catwalk? What was it like to work with one of the world most influential Maisons?
Well, I wouldn’t call it a collaboration, that’s a bit exaggerated. They saw my drawings in a book I was in and chose some illustrations which they wanted to use in the collection. I sent them the drawings and they turned them all into magic! I’m not taking any cred for that. Then the relationship continued with some other things, and they have an incredible professional team.

Where do you go for your everyday escape?
I have never understood the idea of everyday. Is an everyday even necessary? And why would I have the need to escaping? Maybe I’m just lucky, having the most amazing husband and friends who make every day feel like a weekday. My job is also something that surrounds me almost constantly. It’s not like you leave the studio at six and feel pleased for the day.

What is the project of your dream?
The nicest feeling I know is starting a new project. When it’s all about the ideas in your mind and you’ve barely touched the pen. When I photograph a model and I see the image in my mind. I have a lot of freedom when working with my clients and that is a very nice thing. I hardly ever feel the need to compromise. My hope for the future is that it remains the same and that I keep improving at what I do!

What do you prefer to draw when you’re not working?
I mean, I draw whatever I want when working, so I guess it’s all the same thing. But when I do it all my way, I draw more nudity!

It’s a Monday morning, 2021. What does your day look like?
Oh, well my son will be 11 by then, which means that I won’t have to wake up at 06.00 a.m anymore, hopefully. That would be nice. Other than that, I hope everything is as fun as it is today and that I have an amazing office with millions of projects.

I guess that you receive tons of requests of all different kinds, but how do you choose which ones to do?
My agencies and I choose together among all the requests. I tend to say yes to a little too much and they know my schedule better than I do, so they can stop me when I already have a lot of things going on. It’s extremely nice to have agencies.

Could you tell us a little bit more about your collaboration with Valextra for Salone in April?
They had seen my images in D and wanted do have a meeting. I’m very impressed by the company and the quality of their products is just amazing. The craftsmanship is like a dream and I truly love a solid piece of work! So we met and talked about what we could do together. I recently made a couple of images for the window displays, which will be shown at their shop here in Milan, as well as a few images for their interior. They will be seen from the beginning of the week of Salone!

Where in Milan will we see you in the near future?
You will see my work in D of course. Then I hope for more fun collaborations to pop up!

You are extremely productive and I get the feeling that you always have a ton of projects at the same time. Do you never get tired of drawing?
No way!

Interview and Translation Emelly Blomqvist – Images courtesy LundLund Sweden

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2DM Rocks Elvis: It’s Now Or Never!


2DM Rocks Elvis: It’s Now Or Never!

2DM’s killer new poster for 2011 has arrived!

Designed by art direction duo Tankboys in collaboration with 2DM and features a photo by Vicky Trombetta.. On its flip-side are some sage words-to-live-by, rendered in the hand of calligrapher extraordinaire Luca Barcellona. Our outlook in these uncertain times is only on the adventures that lie ahead. We’re all about seizing the moment – and the moment has come! Learn! Experiment! Push the limits! Make the day yours!

It’s Now Or Never…

Tag Christof

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Daniel Sannwald & Tamara Cincik / Test Mag


Daniel Sannwald & Tamara Cincik / Test Mag

Photographer Daniel Sannwald shot this treat for Test alongside 2DM’s lovely London stylist Tamara Cincik. Dressed in Michael Van Der Ham (which you can find in Italy only at Luisa Via Roma and The Corner), and rad shades by Janz & Copper, model Elena Sudakova moves in suspended animation through the fractured and trancelike scene. Absolutely stunning.

The short is set to the killer track “Birds of Prey” by Architeq, so watch with headphones on and volume cranked way up.

Tag Christof – Video courtesy Test

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The Editorial: Let’s Get Lost / Chet Baker


The Editorial: Let’s Get Lost / Chet Baker

Bruce Weber’s 1980s documentary on the life of Chet Baker is imperfect and messy and visceral. And brilliant. Chet Baker himself was a glorious disaster. His life was a drug-fuelled tragedy, truly lived. He’s the type of person who most certainly couldn’t be a product of today. Life has become too antiseptic. He’s too unpretentious. The values that were Chet Baker are long dead: he was compulsive, dedicated and straightforward. But he lived. Military tours. A year in an Italian prison. Mountains of drugs. Women. And a creative life lived through brass instruments and a serene voice.

It feels, strangely, that we’ve taken several steps backwards since Baker’s time. This film’s genuine emotion is unmistakable. And although the hip kids of today do a pretty good job of aping its style, the original remains, with its imperfect and unrestrained beauty. All the more so in retrospect. But beyond the patina, there is a substance here. A joie de vivre that you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere nowadays.

Our selves are mishmashes of conflicts, born out by superficial behaviour. Since the beginning of Western civilization we’ve partied and acted posh and copied the dress and manner of halfwit celebrities in a desperate attempt to be… who, exactly? But today, as culture, fashion and art fragments, a creeping sense of genericness is impossible to avoid. The Chinese have dragged American hyper-consumerism to dizzying new heights. They mix age-old pop song formulas with glossy production to make pleasant, one-size-fits-all muzak that lulls listeners into submission. Blithe, unquestioning submission. Nobody fights back.

Even in behind-the-times boutique Italy, we buy everything we eat at crowded, characterless chain supermarkets. Everyone has something to say, but as Twitter’s epic information gathering proves, we all say the same things in the end. Drone. Overload. Fast food. Fast fashion. Perhaps our fatigue stems from the spin media has thrust upon a string of revolt-disaster-war-austerity. Or from sanguine and hollow messages of hope. (Hope for?) And next year is 2012. Tick-tock.

And the gravitation of connoisseur towards the infinitely more human texture of analogue speaks volumes about films like Weber’s. Across mediums, the look and feel of works made way-back-when possess a uniqueness and a truth that is just plain absent today. Light to image to paper by mechanical and chemical process.. Music from instrument to media to ear without digital wizardry. Magic is always lost in electronic translation. Silicone augmentations (of all types) are fake. Silicone chips facilitate fake. And fake is pretty damn unfulfilling.

But, can we bridge the gap between the visceral, unfiltered life of the dark old days with hyper-generic today? LIBYA. TSUNAMI. DRESS €9.99 AT H&M. GAGA. ECONOMIC COLLAPSE. GUCCI. WAR. FAMINE. NUCLEAR DISASTER. Can we get past it? Excess and drugs and the inevitable hangover taught us a lesson or two, but you’d think we’d have emerged with a new lease on life. Not blinders.

When it comes down to it, kids, we really need to get back some of this raw, real life. Experimentation. Fuck ups. Bruises and scars. Life lived in horrifying three dimensions with wind-in-face sunburns and morning hangovers. Let’s get out there. Because there’s nothing more distinguishing than well and truly living.

Tag Christof

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Essen: Tartine Bakery / Chad Robertson Interview


Essen: Tartine Bakery / Chad Robertson Interview

Chad Robertson is a chef, an author and an entrepreneur. Chad Roberson nevertheless considers himself a part of the best of all possible worlds as an artisan. To mister Chad Robertson the word a-r-t-i-s-a-n, invokes no ambivalence. In fact, when he says it, it rolls off his tongue in a firm, tranquil voice: ARTISAN. And the object of his artisanal devotion is bread. Bread has become the linchpin to his day’s rhythms while he tirelessly continues his research of the best grains in the world, and faithfully supports organics and urban gardening.

Tartine Bakery is Chad’s home in San Francisco, a mecca where at quitting time, the smartest residents of Frisco find themselves queuing for its amazing bread. Tartine Bread is the book which has collected in words and images Chad’s handwork savoir-faire, and which is gathering a formidable enthusiast community of new-gen bakers around itself. Chatting with Chad, I discovered his Baking Philosophy and learned about how the Bay Area is moving towards a better food culture. And after days of salivating over slices of Tartine Bread, I finally decided to open myself to the world of “pasta madre.”

Let’s start with some thoughts about bread: the ancient cultures state that being a human being means being a bread eater. Man left his wild nature when he started to manipulate flour and water to create bread.
What does bread mean in your life? Have you ever thought about why you chose to start baking bread?

I never intended to become a baker. After years in private prep school, I was ready to work with my hands and decided to learn how to cook. Becoming a chef seemed like a stable way to make a living wherever I landed.
The initial decision to focus exclusively on making bread was an irrational one, brought on by a visit to the Berkshire Mountain Bakery in the early 1990s. Young and impressionable at the time, I was completely taken by the scent and scene unfolding in Richard Bourdon’s large brick barn bakery: hundreds of natural leavened whole grain breads with crusts cracking; and a thick sweet air I will never forget.

Getting deeper into your thoughts, what’s your first memory about bread? A smell, a taste, a bakery… even a story!
My first and strongest memory of bread was when I visited Bourdon’s bakery. I chose to make bread that day with the goal of contributing something distinct to the culture of our craft. I wanted to contribute to the craft just as my mentors had while adding a new dynamic as they had done in their own time: fuel for the creative cycle and key to artisan evolution. My other strongest memory was a visit to the Boulanger de Boiens, in Medoc, France, which inspired the baking schedule I would keep for more than a decade. The baker rang a bell outside his bakery in the afternoon to signal the first bread of the day coming from the oven just before dinner.

Now let’s talk about your work. Do you remember the first time you made your very first loaf of bread? Where were you are you and how was it?
The first loaf I truly made myself was the first day I baked bread in Point Reyes Station. I fired the oven with wood, chopped and mixed the dough with my hands in buckets, worked alone all day and slept in shifts.
This time was in no way sustainable, but profoundly instructive. Many years of obsessive trance baking are blurred together in memory. In the end, I was finally making the bread I wanted to eat every day.

You worked several years with Richard Bourdon, what was the tenet that influenced you the most?
Use fresh ground organic whole grains, sea salt, generous hydration, very long fermentation times, and a strong bake (to the point where the grain is fully cooked through, and the bread often develops a substantial crust) so people can easily digest the food you are making and gain nutrition from it.
Plus, understanding that the nature of grain fermentation and making bread is vast and continually evolving. There are lifetimes of learning ahead.

As you have spent a lot of time in France what do you see as the main difference between American and European food? Which type of bread do you produce?
European food is traditionally based closer to the source than what we generally know in the States (San Francisco excluded). This is especially true in the countryside. In large cities, one often has to search to find traditional foods.
That said, there is a movement in parts of Scandinavia (Denmark, Sweden) and progressive cities in Western Europe that goes beyond regional identification to a style that is at once very local and almost Post-European: produce driven using indigenous grains, some traditional local flavors along with international influences, employed in menus seemingly without any identifiable rules. It’s a natural and refreshing turn of cuisine practiced by a handful of chefs who have mastered their medium.
This is happening here with a handful of American chefs as well.

When did you and your wife decide to open Tartine Bakery? How did you imagine it? How was the concept developed?
We settled here after living and working in the French countryside for a year. We wanted to try to maintain the lifestyle we had become accustomed to there, so we settled on the coast of Northern California, in a small town surrounded by organic farms, working cattle and dairy ranches, vineyards, and the bounty of the coast. The concept was to add to the community by making good bread in a very primitive, artisan operation.

Hearing from the friends you have involved, it seems that you spread a philosophy of baking rather than a technique. Do you agree? Could you tell us some more about the “test bakers” baking experience?
It’s true, my philosophy or approach to making bread is the thing most important for me to get across. The goal is to enable someone learning to make bread to get a better understanding of how these things work together as opposed to just following a recipe. However, technique is still key to the process.
The test bakers all followed the recipe precisely in the beginning and made the same bread. The interesting thing about each of them was what happened when they started to modify the recipe to suit their own needs; each one ended up with a different schedules and different breads with distinct character.

What is an average day like at Tartine Bakery?
I head to the bakery for an espresso, check in with my incredible morning bakers on the day’s early production before opening the doors, then after lunch, I bake bread. Then it’s dinner at Bar Tartine before heading home to close the day.

The Bay Area seems to be very active and sensitive to food culture. There are a lot of different media (MeatPaper for example) that are involved in this world. What do you think is still missing?
Some friends, Little City Gardens, are working on this front now. We need to see more urban gardening in the Bay Area and San Francisco in particular.

Let’s talk about food in general. What is your “madeleine” food, the one that reminds you of your childhood?
Bread and butter. I still eat it daily warm from the oven.

How do you eat bread? Is there a sandwich recipe that you like the most?
I just ate a bowl of beans ladled over days-old bread with smoked chilis, olive oil, vinegar, and fresh cilantro. Also, I eat a lot of sardine sandwiches.

Upcoming projects to follow your book?
We’re currently building a new bakeshop/ sandwich shop next to our restaurant. We’ll be baking different breads than what we make at Tartine, starting early in the day so we can make sandwiches for lunch on very fresh bread.
Also, the next bread book is underway, telling the story of older, indigenous grains in different parts of the world and how we bake with them.

Thanks, Chad! Find Tartine Bakery on Guerrero Street in San Francisco’s famed Mission district.

Cristina Zaga – Photography Elizabeth Prueitt – Special thanks as always to Essen – Introduction Translation Tag Christof

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Tony Oursler / Open Obscura


Tony Oursler / Open Obscura

PAC (Contemporary Art Pavilion) in Milan hosts Open Obscura, the anthological exhibition by Tony Oursler, the American artist born in New York in 1957.

The show, curated by Gianni Mercurio and Demetrio Paparoni, presents – for the first time in a public venue in Italy – the works realised by the artist in the last decade. Huge and small size talking holograms projected on spherical, smooth or wrinkled surfaces, orbiting eyes and big mouths that whisper confused messages, which overlap.

Oursler isolates parts of human body – faces, mouths and ears, but mainly eyes – creating freakish creatures, grotesque and ironic anthropomorphic images that amuse and disturb at the same time. The dreamlike video-sculptures drag visitors into visionary and virtual atmospheres, analysing states of mind and mental health issues as well as the dialogue between human beings and new technologies.

The works created by the artist embody his idea of “making a breakdown in aesthetic culture”. Through the use of different languages and a sort of “frankensteinism” that distorts bodies, Oursler reflects his personal introspection and psychological research, focusing the attention on civil issues, which represent the darker side of human beings like consumerism, addictions, violence, sex and pollution. In works like Cosmic Cloud and Purple Dust, the artist explores the inner and the outer space, creating a bridge between the conscious and the unconscious – the external light space and the inner dark one, while in Peak, a series of micro sculptures made of an omnium-gatherum (glass, metal, clay and micro projections), he continues his research on the ways in which technology affects the human psyche.

Tony Oursler poetry is originally based on the importance of interaction and dialogue between the spectator and the artwork. Mixing irony and emotional tension he synthesizes uncanny elements that leave viewers stunned and astonished.

The exhibition will run throug June 12.

Monica Lombardi

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We Are With You, Japan


We Are With You, Japan

The magnitude and scope of the disaster in Japan cannot be overstated. The official death count continues to rise as missing persons are found and definitively identified. In any case, the number of casualties has already far surpassed that of central Italy’s tragic 2009 earthquake, as well as that of any terrorist act on any industrialised nation in our lifetimes. And the long road to repair the nation’s immediate damage may be blockaded by the far-reaching and long-term effects of nuclear disaster. Japan’s citizenry faces a tumultuous road ahead with destroyed cities, infrastructure, and potentially, livelihoods. The effects of this disaster must be remembered long after the disaster itself has been forgotten by newspaper headlines.

We Are With You is a straightforward initiative for solidarity launched by a Japanese citizen outside her country hoping to make a difference. By building a network of support across the world, the project strives to promote a sense of human connection and common sentiment from end to end of the planet. It is a gorgeous gesture and should go a long way towards building morale.Through the website, you can also donate to Tokyo-based NGO JEN (which has itself had a part in helping nations and peoples in need outside Japan following recent natural disasters), with all proceeds to be tallied and sent on April 15th.

Japan is a vibrant, resilient, innovative nation, but it needs the world’s attention and cooperation as would any other in a similar predicament. And in times of hardship and uncertainty, solidarity is an unequivocal message. Beyond the fact that we share a human condition, our own creative industry (and, indeed, that of the entire world) owes a great debt to Japanese ingenuity. We hope to be part of making sure everyone emerges from this stronger, wiser and closer, and invite our readers to participate in the project with their own photo. Download the logo here.

To our Japanese friends, clients and colleagues, We Are With You.

The Blogazine and 2DM together with several collaborators is organising a benefit on behalf of Japan in the coming days. We’ll keep you posted.

Tag Christof – Very special thanks to Eri Tsutsumi

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Guest Interview N°23: Arabeschi di Latte


Guest Interview n°23: Arabeschi di Latte

Arabeschi di Latte are a design collective who work across mediums, borders and, fortunately, palates. They are part art of a wave of new generation designers whose material considerations are without limits, and whose design work considers the entire spectrum of human existence. Nothing from development economics to death is outside the scope of design any longer.

Hailing from Florence, Arabeschi di Latte use food as their weapon of choice for design good. All women, and all armed with the sensibility and sensitivity womanhood brings, their work is eminently pragmatic and simply beautiful. From their trademark “Gnocchi Bars” and “Interactive Dinners,” all the way to their guerilla rethinks of city spaces and more traditional product, visual design and food styling work, their processes focus on or use food to shift perceptions and build awareness. They aim to bring ritual back into dining, educating about the processes which bring food to our tables, and genuinely engaging people with food’s transcendent power. Plus they make things (and help others make things) that taste really, really good!

We were lucky enough to catch up with Arabeschi’s Francesca Sarti, between one of the collective’s many projects.

How did you learn to cook?
Organising Christmas dinner for 40-50 friends at home for years! Crazy!

How important is your being Italian to your work?
The Italian and Mediterranean conviviality is a key factor in our work.
From this tradition we understood how food can help to create a welcoming, inclusive atmosphere and how to create human experiences that show you something about relationships.

Interactivity is key in your work. Interactivity is key to food! How are you working to re-engage people with the things they eat?
Food is taken for granted…you go to the supermarket and everything is available everyday. We need to recover the experience of food, touching it with our hands to become aware of its importance. We try to do this with a certain playfulness, reviving rituals from the past and from childhood as we did in projects like “Gnocchi Bar,” “Pastificio,” and “BQ _Interactive Dinner.” You can talk about urgent problems, but with a touch of happiness!

Can good design help combat the world’s food problems? Obesity, malnourishment, contaminated water…
Yes it does! The designer’s point of view on these urgent topics can help to find unexpected and powerful solutions. Follow Designobserver.com and you will agree!

What do think of Jennifer Rubell’s expansive, explosive food works?
I love the brunch she did at The Rubell Family Collection last year for the occasion of the Art Basel Miami opening!

You’ve worked quite a bit in London and Tokyo. How do their food scenes compare to Italy’s?
In London and Tokyo you have such a great variety of cafes and restaurants. Moreover the cafes are much better than the Italian ones, where the lack of quality and care is even evident when you order a simple tea! Also, people have recently become more aware of food, of the role food has in society, of the importance of food quality, and of recovering the conviviality of the past and are very open to new experiences as well.

In Italy we have a strong tradition that is a great heritage but then the everyday offers are so poor…Think about having a lunch in via Calzaiuoli in Florence, corso Vittorio in Rome or Corso Buenos Aires in Milan…just to give a few examples. It’s a nightmare! Sometimes even heritage can become a constraint…

Is your approach to design affected by the fact that you’re a collective of women?
A “girly” touch has always been quite evident in our work especially at beginning when we liked to play with household themes and topics…with a touch of irony of course!

Are you concerned about the influx of more and more processed food, commercial farms and genetic engineering?
Yes, I am…the actual global food system is failing; we all should become aware of this fact and strive to explore new routes.

Food a century from now?
…I can only think about the aim everybody should have in mind: recovering FOOD QUALITY.

Favourite ingredient? Favourite dish?
Bread with water and sugar! So simple, so sober, so humble, so tasty…

Thanks a million Francesca! We’ll see you at Salone!

Interview and introduction Tag Christof – Images courtesy Arabeschi di Latte and Festival Arte Contemporanea – Very special thanks to Francesca Sarti

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Luisa Via Roma’s Toxic Friend


Luisa Via Roma’s Toxic Friend

Irreverence isn’t generally a feature of Italian fashion. Classic, sartorial, elegant, yes – all of which are well and good – but when it comes to the occasional colouring outside the lines, there aren’t many options. Thankfully, Toxic Toy of Florence has come to the rescue and is nothing if not irreverent. The brand is a cheeky little buggar among men in stodgy pinstripes, and makes some seriously fun wearables.

Toxic Toy was behind the must-have “My Blog Is Bigger Than Yours” T-shirts for this year’s Firenze4Ever event, and has garnered a mini-cult following thanks to its special editions primarily for Luisa Via Roma. The line consists of men’s, women’s and children’s collections and the occasional oddball. The brand has its hand in human issues too, having launched a successful T-shirt line to benefit leukaemia and other childhood cancer research. And on a lighter note, if you ever want to drive your boss bonkers, a visit to Toxic Toy’s website is a good place to start. Its sound effects are adorable.

Toxic Toy’s founder-designer, the multitalented Tommaso Bencistà Falorni, paid The Blogazine a visit recently to shoot the breeze and show us his stuff. We shot Polaroids of the collection with our SX-70 while he shared inspiration and shed some light on the personality of the brand. His freshly blue hair and cool-kid getup makes it immediately clear that there’s something all-too-often absent in fashion design work: sheer joy. The products are fun and engaging because Bencistà Falorni clearly has great fun designing them.

The label’s new summer collection has added some sophisticated tailoring to its clever graphics for the first time, and with patterns on some pieces that recall warrior shoulder pads and heavy-duty metal studs, the collection has inched closer to serious fashion semiotics than it has before. Nonetheless, it remains wearable and as much fun as it’s ever been.

Catch Toxic Toy, including at Luisa Via Roma and in fine boutiques around Europe and as far away as the UAE and Hong Kong.

Tag Christof – Very special thanks to Tommaso Bencistà Falorni

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Essen: Olimpia Zagnoli Interview


Essen: Olimpia Zagnoli Interview

Our regular readers know the downlow about our patrnership with Essen, a new authority on food and its extraordinarily rich universe. Today marks the inauguration of a new fixture of our Cibvs section: Essen’s gorgeously curated weekly food column! Join us every Saturday from here on out as we travel with Essen into the depths of the organic movement, into the minds of food world maker-shakers and to the vanguard of food design, food art and food fashion. -The Editor

Olimpia Zagnoli loves New York and New York loves Olimpia’s 60’s‐inspired illustrations. This mutual love turned into a new marriage of sorts, crowned by the the birth of a repertoire of illustrated “children.” One of these offspring is the iPhone application, The Scoop, brought beautifully to life by the red-spectacled Italian illustrator for Apple’s online store. The Scoop is a guide to New York run by T Magazine‘s journalists and experts from Food NYTimes. There are no exhaustive lists of clubs nor boring reviews, just a well-curated, highly personal selection along with stories about the clubs and shops of the city.

The Scoop is also an excellent excuse for us to have had a chat with Olimpia, to talk about her love for ice cream and Coca-Cola, and to receive a special gift: an illustrated recipe.

Hi Olimpia! Let’s talk about the NYT application you illustrated.
Well, sure. It’s an iPhone application that allows you to discover interesting places in the city, such as museums, clubs, shopping places etc. with a special focus on telling the residents about their city.

What was your brief?
One of the art directors from the Times asked me to create a cover and a set of icons for the application. The cover had to be an interpretation of Manhattan’s skyline, while the icons were inspired by the theme of the section. Sometimes a new section would come up (for example, a Fashion Week section) and the brief was simply to update it. I had never worked on an app before, so it was fun and interesting.

What did you eat when you lived in New York? What was your favourite type of street food?
The nice thing about New York is that it has everything. I am sort of a glutton, and a very curious person, so for me living in New York felt like being inside a carnival of flavours. I love every type of ethnic food (Mexican and Indian are a couple of my favourites), but I also like healthy fare such as yummy (and pricey!) avocado sandwiches, seaweed and various other concoctions.

Were you in NYC when the app was released? Have you tested it? Do you think it’s full of useful information, or is something missing?
Yes, I’ve been in New York a couple of times since the app was released. I tested it several times and I must say it works. The places it suggests are all very good and varied. There are some top restaurants suggested by Sam Sifton, but also neighbourhood cafes or bars with fancy cocktails.

When I met you, you had just created a fan‐compilation of the best positions for train sleeping. How did your life change since that moment? If you had to make a new list, how would you do it?
My life is not so different after all, so I still take buses and trains to chase my boyfriends and I fall asleep as soon as I touch a more or less stable support. I will soon have a home of my own, so maybe a few of these things will change. From a business point of view I feel quite happy.
You know, a few days ago an art director contacted me and asked me to make another list in the style of “15 ways to sleep on a train.” I can’t tell you what is it exactly, though, because it is as yet unpublished. I like the idea of serial works, so the list is a good solution. The problem with many contemporary illustrators seems to be that they vaunt the subject in order to define their own style: there is “he who draws this” and “he who draws that.”

You are mostly an editorial illustrator, so you have to follow the parameters of texts. Despite this, you are very present in your work – you show yourself – you fill out charts and add your personal taste. Do you believe you’ve found some balance?
I don’t know, I hope I have! I like the interaction with publishers and the texts of others, because it always becomes a mini competition. It is about going around the subject and being able to bring out my own interpretation, even if the topic is unknown to me or not particularly fascinating. It is a very challenging and intriguing process. A blank sheet actually looks more frightening to me because there are no directives and no deadlines.

Will you tell me about your most horrible gastronomic perversion?
My favourite sandwich has bread & ham & lot of mayonnaise & chips. It’s not that horrible though! I like soaking breadsticks in Coca-Cola, drinking warm Coca-Cola and mixing ice cream with Coca-Cola. My great grandmother also made a drink with barley coffee, lambrusco, a lot of sugar and pieces of stale bread. It was delicious! My father taught me the trick of adding banana to coffee. I can go on if you like…

What food packaging would you like to redo?
I would love to make some packages for Kellogg’s cereals. And if it were possible I would love for the original Kinder child to come back.

Is there any food you are particularly fond of?
Is a cappelletto tattoo enough?

Ok, we’ve finished, but now a ritual demand: give us a recipe (and just because you’re you, we’ll accept a drawing.)

Thanks, Olimpia!

Interview by Fabrizio Festa – Recipe Olimpia Zagnoli for Essen – Other Images from The Scoop and “The Good Guide to Living Better,” all by Olimpia Zagnoli – Special thanks to Charlotte Garlaschelli and Cristina Zaga at Essen

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