Striking Out in Italian Design

Photo by Giacomo Maestri. 

New design brand LATOxLATO, founded by the young architects Francesco Breganze de Capnist and Virginia Valentini, presents its first collection of furnishings and objects that strives to tell a story of true passion for Italian design. Exclusively made in Italy, LATOxLATO uses the finest materials and refined techniques, all built on a search for the best artisans and craftspeople. 

“LATOxLATO comes from the wish of bringing the artisans’ knowledge passed down across generations to the public,” say designers Breganza de Capnist and Valentini, “and make people realize that in Italy we still have a great tradition of true masters of the art that mold one piece at a time with their hands … Our mission is to show the consumer everyday objects in a different way from the one they are used to seeing them, freed from the constraints of the usual trends through the constant dialogue between art, aesthetics and functionality.”

The duo is usually inspired by day to day life, taking their personal memories as well as the architecture of Italy and transposing generalized design concepts into household pieces. For those looking to outfit their home, both designers say that these pieces help to “tell a story about [the] owner.”  

“Each product has a unique and recognizable identity and is meant to embellish its new home and also bring value to its new owner. The goal is to give the consumer the chance to own a very unique piece that tells a story about him, what he likes and what are his dreams.”

There are several pieces in the collection, varying in look and purpose. The Fourmosa storage chest draws on the clean formal lines of classic Italian design from the 1950s, updated for the modern age.

The piece is in varnished oak, with masterfully carved sharp edges bringing a sense of continuity to the surface. Designed to fit together in infinite combinations, these pieces create a dynamic, personalized piece that can even be expanded over time.

The trapezoidal modules easily lend themselves to various free combinations, without the use of joints. 

Photo by Matteo Imbriani.

1950s design also provided inspiration for Aracne, an unconventional coffee table with an unexpected eight-legged silhouette. Its round glass top seems to float atop the elegant zoomorphic structure, solid and airy at the same time.

Its eight wooden supports, with rounded edges that allow the top to nestle into place with a natural elegance, create an evocative visual rhythm, interacting with its surroundings by projecting delicate threads of shadow into the light.

Precise woodworking and organic design make Aracne an elegant presence full of personality. 

Photo by Giacomo Maestri. 

Candleholders, vases and a centerpiece are a tribute to the Italian art and architecture that inspires their form and character.

The Vestalia candleholder boasts the natural elegance of the most precious marbles, from Carrara White to Carnico Gray and Imperial Green. 

A complex process of water-jet carving, entrusted to historic Venetian ateliers, brings out the stone’s edges and veining.

Their design, rich in tactile emotions and interactive possibilities, makes them objects of compelling sculptural presence. 

Photo by Matteo Imbriani.

The arched ceramic vases Marcello, Massimo and Vittorio offer a subtle allusion to Italy’s Palladian villas and palaces and to the perspectives of Metaphysical art.

The detailing in precious 24k gold or platinum creates reflections of light and motion in perspective.

The pure white of the surface showcases the precious glaze finish and the imperceptible differences in intensity that come from handmade artistry. 

Left photo: Marcello; Right photo: Massimo

Both photos by Giacomo Maestri. 

The beauties of artisanal ceramic return in the Sophia table centerpiece, inspired by the great piazzas of the città d’arte, Italy’s “Cities of Art.”

A meticulous study in proportion, Sophia presents itself as a scale model of the arches and porticoes of Renaissance architecture.

The result is an abstract geometric form, rich in sensory character and vibrant with luminous details that enrich the pure white of the ceramic. 

Photo by Matteo Imbriani.

Nisolo, a sustainable fashion brand, shares its impact report online and offers everything from jewelry and accessories, to heels, boots, bags and more.

This company focuses on more than low prices. The handcrafted process involves intentional designs, an ethical work environment, and comfortable fashion that can be worn every day.

We sat down with Devon Murrie, brand partnerships manager at Nisolo, to learn more about this industry.

What is the inspiration behind your company?

Nisolo has the vision to push the fashion industry in a more sustainable direction — where success is based on more than just offering the cheapest price — a direction that not only values exceptional design but the producer and the planet just as much as the end consumer.

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What are some of the biggest challenges when creating sustainable shoes?

One of the biggest challenges of sustainable production is gaining complete visibility into every level of a supply chain. We took a much deeper look into our supply chain in 2018 after learning from Patagonia about their material traceability practices. We still do not have 100% visibility into every level of our supply chain (we regularly visit all of our factories and tanneries, but no farms to date), however, after speaking with representatives of our tanneries in León, Mexico, we know that a lot of our leather comes from farms in the USA and northern Mexico, and is a byproduct of the meat industry. Diving into this further is a priority of ours for 2019.

What does sustainable mean to you?

We at Nisolo feel a responsibility to the ethical treatment of our producers. We work to ensure living wages, safe and healthy working conditions, and additional benefits such as healthcare, time off, and bonuses for our producers. We also feel a responsibility to understand our supply chain and mitigate our environmental impact. All leather used in our supply chain is a byproduct of the meat industry, and we’re utilizing the more eco-friendly vegetable tanning method across many products.

Please explain why your company stands out among others?

Two things really set Nisolo apart: our attention to good, functional design and our vertical integration. We actually own and operate our factory in Peru, which allows us both visibility and flexibility into our design and impact practices.

Despite our confidence in those areas, we know greenwashing has reached new heights in our industry and we felt it essential to obtain third-party certification from a highly respected organization. So in 2017 Nisolo also received B Corporation certification — recognizing us as a company that uses the power of business to help solve the social and environmental challenges our world faces today.

Photos courtesy of Nisolo

Secondhand has gone upscale.

The names tell the story. The Vault Luxury Resale. The RealReal. Poshmark. Once the domain of nonprofits and local mom-and-pop stores, consignment and resale has become a big business, with new ventures adding a high-end twist to a timeworn model.

Resale, in which retailers purchase items directly from consumers and sell them outright, frequently replaces the traditional consignment model. No matter the method — consignment or resale — items are often not new. Still almost everyone in the business would be hard pressed even to utter the word “used,” instead opting for pre-owned, pre-loved, gently worn and secondhand.

“The attitude about resale has changed significantly over the last five years. The new consumer mindset sees the value in purchasing high-quality, well-made items that can last a lifetime, and our model creates access to these items,” says Rati Levesque, chief merchant for The RealReal, which sells luxury goods online (and in two recently opened brick and mortar stores) on consignment. ThredUp, one of the first online companies to focus on second-hand apparel for women and children, estimates 70 percent of their shoppers, which they often call “thrifters,” have never purchased secondhand before.

Used items from premium labels such as Gucci, Hermes, Louis Vuitton and Chanel have always been in demand, often only obtained through a very small group of discrete local shops. In 1991, Sue McCarthy opened a consignment shop in St. Louis, eventually realizing that purchasing items outright was better suited to her upscale clientele. Today, she heads a multimillion-dollar enterprise, trading the original 400-square-foot storefront for a 7,000-square-foot boutique. Her roster of clients extends worldwide with approximately 15,000 individuals who send items to her. Additionally, along with her daughter who is the company curator and verifies authenticity, she frequently travels to view and purchase items from some of the largest closets in New York, Paris, London and other cities, something she calls “shopping the closet.” Clients include some of the world’s wealthiest women and celebrities, and more than a few stylists have her on speed dial. Also, customers travel to St. Louis to shop in her store. For some, like one group of female lawyers, it’s become an annual event.

 

 

The RealReal began at Julie Wainwright’s kitchen table and is now a major player in online luxury consignment. Following other online merchants, they recently opened stores in Los Angeles and New York and plan to add more brick and mortar locations in 2019.

Julie Wainwright

Photos courtesy of The RealReal.

When it comes to selling secondhand items online, eBay was a game changer and 1st Dibbs broke new ground for luxury sales online. In the industry, ThredUp, which started with a pilot for peer-to-peer online sharing of men’s shirts, established the resale niche online. Now the company claims to be the world’s largest online marketplace to buy and sell women’s and kids’ secondhand clothes.  

James Reinhart, co-founder and CEO of ThredUp says, “There is a powerful transformation of the modern closet happening and I’m proud that resale is a key driver of this transformation.” ThredUp estimates current resale market for apparel at $20 billion and projects the market to grow to $41 billion by 2022. Investors have taken notice. ThredUp, The RealReal, Poshmark and others have captured venture capital. Waiting in the wings as further resale disruptors, according to ThredUp, are depop, Rebagg, Tradesy and Grailed. Additionally, startups such as The Luxury Closet are tapping into a nascent resale market in Dubai.

ThredUp estimates approximately 13 percent of their most active thrifters are millionaires. Several years ago, McCarthy tried an online store but decided a focus on social media would make the best use of their online staff. They have a massive following on Instagram and Facebook, running special sales and events weekly. “We cast a wide net over every product,” McCarthy says. “Once we put an item up it sells almost instantly.”

The industry claims resale benefits the environment and most major players support a charity. But McCarthy believes her process allows wealthy clients to amp up their support of nonprofits. “We’re able to monetize it better for charities,” McCarthy says. Instead of receiving a check or cash for their items, many of their wealthy clients opt to donate the money to charity. “If they give the $2,000 purse to charity, the charity is going to sell it for $200. If they give it to us, we’re going to pay them a thousand dollars. We make the check out to their favorite charity,” she explains. But many opt to take the resale funds and use them to purchase the latest and greatest, underscoring the secret to resale. “The lady who wants the latest Chanel or Gucci bag is going to be the same lady that wants the next latest one. And that gives her a good incentive to sell the previous bags,” McCarthy explains.  

Sue McCarthy

Sue McCarthy pioneered the luxury resale model with The Vault Luxury. Stylists and fashionistas have her on speed dial. And she is called on to shop the most indulgent closets in New York, London and Paris.

Photos courtesy of The Vault Luxury Resale.

The word jewelry brings to mind beautiful, valuable accessories that elevate the wearer to a status reserved for those fortunate enough to afford these precious embellishments. As jewelry owners begin to amass a collection of fine adornments, there becomes a need for a place to keep their valuables organized and protected from potential damage.

There are several luxurious options for a refined gem collector. These opulent jewelry boxes, which retail for more than $3,000, prove that high-end jewelry is deserving of a home that matches its elegance.

Jewelry Box In Royal Ebony Macassar

$4,623.15

Only a limited quantity of these boxes have been manufactured with rare wood that features a never-before-seen grain pattern. This product is designed to serve as two jewelry boxes in one, as its lower tier is easily removable for travel purposes. Two keys adorned with tassels unlock a top tray with an internal mirror, making this jewelry box an elegant gift that doubles as a means of both storing and displaying the owner’s jewelry collection.

Russian Karelian Birch Jewelry Box

$3,434.34

Handmade from a Russian royal wood that was previously used exclusively to make furniture for Russian tzars, this jewelry box’s modern aesthetic is enhanced by the rich nature of Karelian Birch. It also features a two-in-one design with a removable tier, and is lined with cream suede complimented by nickel-plated hinges.

Japanese Tamo Ash Exclusive Creations Jewelry Box

$4,623.15

Japanese Tamo Ash wood is one of the most rare and luxurious woods in the world — known for its unique and eye-catching grain pattern, the wood used to be used to decorate only the finest Samurai swords on the island of Hokkaido. Now, it is used in luxury items including the dashboard of Bentley cars, and this stylish, versatile jewelry box.

Photos courtesy of iWOODDESIGN. 

Artfully integrating into today’s modern hospitality environments, Sans Hands faucets use electromagnetism to streamline the hand washing process and reduce the spread of disease and bacteria.

By Brielle Bryan

Driven by growing concern over germs and bacteria on restroom surfaces, more hospitality environments are turning to hands-free, automated faucet technology. Sonoma Forge, located in Sonoma County, California, combines craftsmanship and skilled metalwork with its unique line of designer faucets, tub fillers, shower systems and coordinated bath accessories.
Sans Hands, Sonoma Forge’s sensor faucet technology, offers an improvement over outdated infrared technology with its invisible sensors. Sans Hands incorporates an electromagnetic proximity sensor, and is packaged in stylish designs that perfectly fit today’s modern industrial style.

“Rather than relying on old, unreliable infrared technology, Sans Hands allows users to skip the frustration of frantic hand waving and enjoy the stylishly unique bathroom décor,” said Erik Ambjor, president of Sonoma Forge.
Sans Hands faucets use the basic principle of electromagnetism. Simply speaking, the components include a spout, a low-voltage current from an electrical source — either battery or plug-in — and an electronic brain supplying an electromagnetic field to the spout. When a user approaches the faucet, the electromagnetic field is interrupted, which opens and closes the valve.
Sans Hands faucets are handcrafted and assembled by skilled artisans. They also come in wall-and-deck-mount configurations and are available in a wide array of finishes. A suite of coordinating bath accessories, including decorative hardware, towel bars, tissue holders, mirror mounts and more complete the industrial look. The refreshing design options offer homeowners a decidedly masculine sense of style that enhances any setting, whether urban loft, country villa or boutique hotel.

Photo courtesy of Sonoma Forge

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