How did an Italian lady find herself opening a design studio in New England?
A leap of faith brought me to the Minnesota Center for Book Arts in 1994, with an internship in papermaking. It was my first experience in the US. I returned to Italy after a few years of learning as much as I could from established paper, letterpress, and book artists across the country. When I met my husband in Italy, his studies and then work brought us back to the US, first living in Michigan and then with our three children, in Brookline, Massachusetts. At first, my studio used to be a small room in my house. Just before my youngest son entered kindergarten, I was ready to move to a larger space and have many more hours in the day to dedicate to my work. Studio Carta opened during the summer of 2010. It felt like a dream!
Tell us a little about Studio Carta.
Studio Carta is a design studio and also the exclusive US importer of my curated line of 100% cotton ribbons from Italy. I work directly with manufacturers to design and develop ribbons and custom made textiles. I oversee every part of the process from designing each product to creating the labels and packaging. I also design a line of letterpress stationery, greeting cards, hand-bound books and journals. I create my own catalogue, website, and take all the photos of everything I sell. Fortunately I have the help from two wonderful assistants who help me assemble and package everything with such grace and thoughtfulness.
What do you look for when sourcing fine stationery and custom ribbons from Italy or beyond? I aim to source high quality, unique product, something I would personally use in my work and that I would enjoy to be surrounded by in my studio and everyday life. I also enjoy collaborating with other designers I trust and admire, to combine our aesthetic and skills toward creating something distinctive. It is probably the most playful and fun part of my work.
Tell us about your family (especially, your seamstress mama!) and how they have influenced your design life.
My earliest memories are the busy hands of my mother, a seamstress, the rhythmic hum of her sewing machine, and the luminous dome of Saint Peter’s Basilica, so big that it seemed to fill the windows of our family’s apartment in Rome. This pretty much says it all. It may be a bit of an Italian stereotype, but I remember my mother by her sewing machine or in the kitchen. From her, I learned a love of the tactile, an eye for beauty, and an attention to the detail of skilled craftsmanship. She taught me the value of being creative, working with passion and mostly doing what you love. I first apprenticed in the book arts in a Bologna studio, where I learned the traditional style of bookbinding while finishing a university degree in renaissance art history. After many years of working with paper and design, it is not a coincidence that when my mother passed away a few years ago, I focused mostly on textiles to stay connected to her everyday.
You work with wedding designers, event planners and brides everyday. What’s the best part of helping to craft a wedding?
I love the excitement behind every event and focus very careful attention to creating something really unique and exceptional for each bride.
What are some words you live by? Less is more.
What’s your favorite quote - in English or Italian - that describes your creative process?
Maybe this one is easy to guess. Charles Eames said, “The details are not the details. They make the design.”
What is one piece of advice you would give another creative just starting out today?
Be patient, kind, persistent and always give only your very best.
Finish this sentence: “Every creative’s desk should have a _____ on it.”
A sharp pair of scissors.
If someone wanted to incorporate one item from your studio into their everyday, what would you suggest and how should they use it?
I would pick a vibrant colored ribbon and suggest wrapping a present with it. When wrapped with a simple vibrant ribbon, an everyday gift will look quite special.
What is the best homemade food gift you have ever received?
Before hopping on a plane back to the US, I received a big bundle of my favorite biscotti from my best friend in Rome.