Interview with Mariannita Luzzati – Brazilian/Italian Visual Artist

Do you like to wander? Are you seeking solace? Are you turning to nature and landscapes to be inspired and encouraged? Are you figuring out the absurd situations, odd habits, or other eccentric aspects of daily life? In such moments, turning to art re-enacts our emotions and magnifies our natural survival instincts. Complexity in life demands a catalyst to foster coherence and clarity. Seemingly, looking at the artwork that recognizes the intensity of the modern world and comforts in uncertainties or sorrows and amplifies exuberance is beneficial to our well-being.

The contemplative landscape paintings of Mariannita Luzzati is one of the activators to learn about the mysteries of the world around us. An artist that sparks the knowledge to living a hedonic way through a mediative outlook. Born in São Paulo, of Italian parents who arrived in Brazil in the sixties, Mariannita Luzzati artworks honors the natural habitat and explores the interconnectedness of humans to their environment.

“These images suggest that the viewer should contemplate and reflect on emptiness and silence, which for me, is our greatest need today,” says the artist.

Mariannita Luzzati artwork

In 2011 Mariannita Luzzati conceived and developed the Cinemúsica Project in collaboration with her husband, the pianist Marcelo Bratke to bring multimedia performances to Brazilian prisons exploring the dialogue between music and moving images. Cinemúsica was performed in 10 prisons of the State of São Paulo, and Mariannita Luzzati produced and directed a documentary about the project. Since then, Cinemúsica has also been performed in prestigious cultural institutions in Brazil and abroad. Among these are the Southbank Center in London; Performing the World Festival in New York; Sarajevo Winter Festival; Sala São Paulo; Teatro da Paz in Belém and the Rio de Janeiro Opera Hall. The Cinemúsica Project was performed more than 60 times, receiving the Art of Touch Award at the Sarajevo Winter Festival.

 

Interview with Mariannita Luzzati

 

Jupilings: What inner force shapes your artistic concepts-

ML: It is the need to create a pictorial space on my work in which I somehow feel I can insert myself in.

In fact, I create a parallel reality of the aesthetic ideal that I pursue.

Mariannita Luzzati artwork

Jupilings: Why are you focused on the concept of the landscapes-

ML: Because I want to be there, to be at that particular landscape in the middle of nature briefing nature.

Nature is an infinite thematic element, and I always discover new ways of seeing it.

Environmental issues are of great interest to me, and it motivates me to develop my work.

Jupilings: What is your life motto-

ML: To be true to me. This approach includes doing nothing that offends my ethics. To be close to the people I love and to stay close to nature and to have a simple life.

Mariannita Luzzati artwork

Jupilings: How do you dial down the negative thoughts & self-doubt-

ML: A long walk in the countryside is the best way to down negative thoughts. I love swimming and yoga, as well. I always try to ignore negative thoughts. I don’t exercise self-doubts, and I believe that mistakes and successes sadness and happiness are part of life, and we have to experiment it.

Jupilings: How do you minimize distractions when you are working

ML: I never answer phone calls or messages when I am at the studio so, I am very focused when I am working. I love to be absorbed entirely in my studio or my readings during my working time.

Mariannita Luzzati artwork

Jupilings: How do you deal with criticism-

ML: Love it!

I love it when I am criticized! I believe that opening discussions about my work is always interesting and productive and makes me reflect on what I am doing.

Jupilings: Advice for aspiring artists-

ML: Be yourself. Do not follow trends. Be truthful in what you do. Do not mirror the career of another artist. Each human being is unique and has its trajectory. Stay open to other arts such as music, cinema dance, theatre, etc.…

 

Mariannita Luzzati artwork

 

Jupilings: What is the role of art today-

ML: For me, art’s role is to modify the perception of the world and life taking us out of our comfort zone, confronting us with new questions, making us look inside of ourselves, and finally opening a new window in our lives.

Jupilings: What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard

ML: When a white horse passes in front of your window, just jump on it! (I received this advice when I was in my twenties and was reluctant to accept an invitation I received to make my first solo show at a significant Gallery in São Paolo. So, I jumped on it!)

Capturing Emotions – Interview With Milenna Saraiva

Without a doubt, Art, especially portraiture channels, a better understanding of ourselves and others. It nudges us towards empathy, appreciation of diversity, and the grasp of emotions. From documentation to speculation, the category of portrait art is fascinating as it gives insights to the interior self. As Lucian Freud stated: ‘I think a great portrait has to do with the way it is approached … it is to do with the feeling of individuality, and the intensity of the regard and the focus on the specific’.

Dynamic and vibrant, Milenna Saraiva captures the spirit and the expressions of her sitter with a strong brush of paint in her portraits. Her strength in depicting the likeness inspired by the individual’s narrative and conviction is passionate. She pushes the age-old genre in new directions where the feelings are revealed, and the appearance utters the individual’s true essence.

Princess Diana – Artwork by Milenna Saraiva – Brazilian Visual Artist

Here is my interview with Milenna Saraiva

Jupilings: Your story- 

Milenna:  I was born in SÃO Paulo, Brazil. I grew up surrounded by musicians and Art in my family circle, so I was always stimulated to be creative. I recollect always drawing since I was very young. I was a shy child, so drawing helped me to communicate and protected me from the world. I ended up getting into dancing and then gymnastics and became an athlete at 12 years old. I used to practice for 8 hours a day, after school, and travel around the country competing with my teammates. Even then, I continued drawing on the side. When I was 17, I injured myself and decide to stop training. At 18, I decided to go to the US to study Fine Arts, and there I lived for the next 14 and a half years. Los Angeles was an excellent teacher and mother to me, but I missed my real base in Brazil and moved back to my country. I continued my education here with a post-grad degree in contemporary painting. I started to make my way into the art world here, doing all kinds of arts-related activities. One of them was live painting. Once I observed and connected with the visual performance, it changed the way I paint and my approach. It has also given me the confidence I need to loosen up and let my emotions come out with way less restrained. Today I have an art studio that I go to every day and spend at least 8 hours working. I spend my time discovering new ways to express myself through my work, painting commissions, murals, and performing live painting in all kinds of events.

Milenna Saraiva Artwork

Jupilings: What inner force shapes your artistic concepts-

Milenna: Art is the language of my thoughts. I find it easier to paint than to use words. The lights, the darks, and the layers of depth that come from playing with textures and colors give me a freedom that I cannot find in Portuguese or English. Painting is my quiet way of expressing my heritage and questioning social values. My work has become a tool for me to narrate my life experiences in parables. The paintings I make reflect my personal mythology.

Jupilings: As a portrait artist, you capture aspects of a person’s identity, likeness, and emotions. In your artwork, do you aim to portray the individuals as to how they see themselves, or how they perceive them-

Milenna: I want my portraits to give clues about the portraited people’s energy and essence. I do want them to identify with the works too. For that, I rely on trying to perfect my technique. Portraits are tricky, though, people want their portraits made still, in most cases are surprised when they see the final product. Their expectation is to see themselves as they see themselves and not how the artist sees them. The way we see ourselves is unique to ourselves. There are many versions of us, one to each different person that we meet, so it’s impossible to fulfill that desire unless you are a photo-realistic artist. And that will never interest me. In my opinion, an artwork will always have the artist’s perceptions engraved all over it.

Andre – Artwork by Milenna Saraiva

Jupilings: What are your thoughts on “portraits” to create a visual dialogue to explore social justice, sexuality, race, and many other controversial subjects-

Milenna:  I’m attracted to controversial subjects, clearly, lol. I think portraits have always been fantastic tools to create dialogues, subtle dialogues with those paying attention. Many artists have and are using imagery and symbols to tell stories, to convey hidden or explicit messages. At this moment, I’m not taking advantage of the allegories that painting offers in all its possibilities; instead, I’m investing in the emotions and expressions of the markings, brush strokes and the colors to do all the ‘talking.’ For instance, the portrait of Marielle Franco, a prominent Brazilian human rights activist, and politician, murdered in mysterious circumstances by the militia, I used a very warm color pallet, with red drips, splashes, a well-defined box behind it, and name it “Seed.” I narrated her story in an observable manner, and those paying attention will hopefully understand it. That means my Art allows me to say what I want to say, but only to those who want to hear it. If Art is a form of communication, my paintings are a language.

Marielle Franco – Artwork by Milenna Saraiva

Jupilings: What is your life motto-

Milenna: It changes a lot from time to time, depending on what’s going on. But there’s a good one I always go back to that says “Live whimsically. Love extravagantly. Dream boldly. Create daily.” 

Jupilings: How do you dial down the negative thoughts & self-doubt- 

Milenna: It’s a constant struggle to balance everything that happens in my mind. But I think I usually sort it all out by painting. Negativity and positivity are only opposite sides of the coin. As well as self-doubt and confidence. I believe that self-doubt is essential for improvement. When I’m questioning myself if something is as good as I could make it, I will keep working on it until self-doubt is gone.

Julian Assange Artwork by Milenna Saraiva

Jupilings: How do you minimize distractions when you are working-

Milenna: I don’t think I manage distractions that well. I could be way more productive If I actually do away with it. I’ve gotten used to doing many things at the same time. Working on several projects at the same time. The distraction is also an opportunity, or maybe a window, to take a moment and then return to something I was very focused on. And sometimes, this little break could give me the answer that I need to finish a piece. So, I guess I embrace them.

Jupilings: How do you deal with criticism-

Milenna: I will only accept criticism from people I respect and have more knowledge than I do. Otherwise, I ignore them completely. Sometimes you need to protect yourself from opinions since every person has a different one, you have to believe in what you believe in. There are many reasons you do what you do and how you do it, that precisely is what makes you unique.

Malala YousafzaiArtwork by Milenna Saraiva

Jupilings: Advice for aspiring artists-

Milenna: If you want to be an artist, study to be one, like a doctor studies to be a doctor. Learn every technique, learn how to draw and produce as much as you can. Only the practice of your craft will allow you to discover your true gift and unique style. Also, be organized with your works, photograph everything, and have an online portfolio since the beginning. It’s important to network, to be part of a group of people who think alike and have the same goals that you do.

Most importantly, what you love. Find out what inspires you and create based on what you love. When you do that, you will want to do it all the time, and you will never feel like you’re working. Know that not everyone will like what you do, and you’ll get many ‘no’s,’ but keep going until you get the ‘yes.’

Artwork by Milenna Saraiva

Jupilings: What is the role of Art today-

Milenna: Art has many roles, in my opinion: To entertain, to express and provoke thinking and emotions, tell a story, shock, and sometimes to simply beautify the world. To me, it’s all of it.

Artwork by Milenna Saraiva
Artwork by Milenna Saraiva

Jupiligns: What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard- 

Milenna: At Santa Monica College, my painting teacher once told me I needed to work harder if I wanted to be an artist and said that “talent isn’t enough.” When I was younger, I was reckless. I used to go out at night and was always come late to painting classes. After that day, something changed in me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with Carla Martin- Founder & Designer of Jeanne Chavany

From the humble beginnings of our ancestors writing symbols with a stylus, the flight feathers of geese to fountain pens, and nowadays, digital pen, this instrument “has been mightier than the sword.”An understated elegance that has been used by royalties to change the course of history. By enlightenment figures who shed light on reason and science, by freedom fighters shaping ideas, scientists that changed everything through their theories, by musicians that touch the soul the deepest, or by a hero soldier that seeks hope and solace by penning “remember that I love you.” A symbol of education, dreams, status, power, hope, affinity, unity, consolation, and purpose, a pen channels ideas and feelings to make a difference. Knowing that your words have an impact, protecting and managing your thoughts should not be taken lightly. As it happens to the best of us, our emotional wellbeing can provocatively be ruffled, and we lose perspective. To shield our reactions, we need a reminder, a protective gear that makes us examine the voice and the thoughts in our head before taking any action. For some can be a mantra or taking a walk, but how about a pen holder. Every time you are about to sign an agreement, write a letter of request, a to-do list, or create a vision, a pen holder serving as an amulet will remind your intentions, purpose, and how it all fits in with the common good.

New Beginnings - Jeanne Chavany
New Beginnings – Jeanne.Chavany

Speaking of which, an exquisite pen holder, named “New Beginnings” created by Carla Martin, designer and founder of JEANNE.CHAVANY can definitely compliment your style and be effective like a charm. JEANNE.CHAVANY, a French brand of luxury handbags and accessories, specifically designed and produced the leather pen holder in support of Professors Without Borders”, a non-profit organization founded by HRH Princess Tessy de Luxembourg that aims to provide free and accessible education to all students, especially women. JEANNE.CHAVANY champions the philanthropic mission by donating 10% of each purchase of “New Beginnings” to Professors Without Borders.

I had the opportunity to interview Carla Martin, to learn about her creations and how she handles challenges. I invite you to read and explore her leather accessories.

Jeanne.Chavany

Jupilings: Please tell us your story a.k.a. JEANNE.CHAVANY – 

Carla MARTINI’ve built my background in the fashion industry working as a purchasing manager for several famous houses. My entire journey has started out of necessity. A few years ago, I needed a new handbag. I was looking for something distinctive, something that would make me stand out, and fit my personality. My husband suggested, as a joke, that if I couldn’t find the right handbag, I should create one. I was hooked on this idea, as I have always been in love with leather. From that moment, I got more interested in leather and started to visit tanneries to learn and understand this noble material while surrounding myself with amazingly skilled artisans to make my ideas and designs come true. Thus Jeanne Chavany was born.

Jeanne Chavany

Jupilings: How do you describe yourself- 

Carla MARTIN: Drawing a self-portrait description might sound “pretentious”, therefore it would be preferable to mention that I have earned a reputation of being ambitious, passionate, generous, and competitive.

Jeanne.Chavany

Jupilings: How do you describe your brand- 

Carla MARTINJEANNE.CHAVANY is a cocktail of passion, integrity, boldness, ethics, innovation, and sustainability. A family-owned business, all products are handmade in our workshop in France. Each piece is made to order, unique in its own way. Customers need to pre-order and join the waiting list, it takes time to create the magic with a wait of 10, up to 18, weeks for a handbag to be made. This is one of our answers to reducing waste, whilst having transparency during production by sharing with customers the steps in the handcrafting process. Mass production does not fit our philosophy.

Here at JEANNE.CHAVANY we believe that creating by hand is more meaningful.

If something is beautiful and fair and made without harming people, that object has a spiritual dimension of dignity and appreciation of the work.

We are a Human Brand built on respect for each other. Our customers, partners, and artisans are our biggest assets.

Jupilings: Please tell us about the philanthropic aspect of JEANNE.CHAVANY –

Carla MARTIN: We all have a sense of social concern to support charities. It is the ethical importance of our social responsibility.

Philanthropy is not only the ‘right thing to do’ but also strengthens company culture. Helping others and giving back to communities is hugely empowering and rewarding.

From the creation of the brand, I injected all my personal values, principals and ethics. As JEANNE CHAVANY caters to contemporary businesswomen, it was obvious for us to support education. Education is the key to becoming an entrepreneur.

And so it made complete sense to team up with NGO Professors Without Borders, which relates directly to the brand’s values, to support education and empowerment in schools.

Professors Without Borders NGO was founded by HRH Princess Tessy de Luxembourg, whose mission is to provide free and equal access to quality education to all students, especially women.

Their vision is to create a global community of academics and professionals who want to share their passion for knowledge with students around the world.

Professors Without Borders aims to bridge the educational divide between countries, as well as between students and their teachers. They aspire to halt the brain drain by bringing teachers in rather than taking students out.

In support of this venture, JEANNE.CHAVANY has designed a pen holder aptly named “New Beginnings”. 10% of each purchase will be donated to support empowerment in schools.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. – Nelson Mandela.

Jupilings: Do you have a daily ritual to help you de-stress- 

Carla MARTIN: What creates stress during the day, is that we try hard to find a balance between work, life, and family and this requires discipline and organization.

My daily ritual: I look after my mind through study, after my soul through meditation and prayer, then I focus all my attention on work.

Jeanne.Chavany

Jupilings: The best piece of advice you have been given-

Carla MARTIN: Time flies by so fast, use it wisely as we do not have a second chance/life. 

Jupilings: What challenges did you face when you were starting your business? 3 tips on how to avoid or overcome them-

Carla MARTINStarting and creating a business from scratch is an “up and down” journey. I call it a roller-coaster. Beware to those who are afraid of high adrenaline. The challenges are multiple: from finding skilled artisans to the supply chain, sales and production, from marketing to communication … we face challenges every single day. Some are easier to deal with, some are more complicated. And the more difficult it gets, the more I enjoy it as this requires mind-stretching, looking at situations from different perspectives and trying new things. I am a “scientist” who changes the “formula” again and again and again until it works. If it would be easy, it would be too easy.

Simplicité Naturelle » cuff bracelet
Simplicité Naturelle » cuff bracelet

Jupilings: 3 tips on how to avoid or overcome challenges-

Carla MARTINThis is a tough question as it depends on so many criteria. Entrepreneurship is not a destination, it’s a long journey and its secret lies in the mindset. It is crucial to continuously push yourself to step outside of your comfort zone and grow from both personal and professional perspectives.

I would say:

  • Patience: overnight success does not exist.
  • Become the best version of yourself
  • Believe in yourself as the way up to the top is a lonely and often painful journey.

Jupilings: How do you motivate yourself-

Carla MARTIN: “Be miserable or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice” Wayne Dyer.

On any journey, there are times of joy that make me feel like I can accomplish anything, which gives me strength and motivation to move forward, but also moments of hesitation, of doubts, of negative feelings and emotions that could easily take over. It’s simply human nature.

Never wait for motivation to get started. So I have created some “strategies” that work well for me:

  • Work out for at least one hour. This will give me a lot of energy, good vibes, and endorphins.
  • Listen to favourite music
  • Reward me with a nice and delicious meal
  • Meditate and express my gratitude for what I got.

Jupilings: How do you deal with setbacks-

Carla MARTIN: My way of getting through obstacles firstly is to start by acknowledging that they’re there, to be honest to myself. To put me back on track all I need to do is to remind myself why I started and what lit the fire…I am very fortunate to do what I love and I do it with passion, this simplifies the situation.

Jupilings: Who inspires you and why- 

Carla MARTIN: There are so many amazing people out there who do and achieve so much in their lives. I look up to them with admiration as they inspire me so much. People like Melinda Gates, Michelle Obama, Lady Diana, Greta Thunberg, Nelson Mandela, Sheryl Sandberg, Serena Williams … just to name a few. If I had to choose only one name, this person would be Leonardo Da Vinci. He does not only inspire me but fascinates me. I would love to travel back in time to meet this genius and discover the “anatomy” of his creativity …

UCHIWA

Jupilings: Tips on building resilience- 

Carla MARTIN: There is no magic formula. Just be positive, be optimistic, be kind to yourself. And take action.

Jeanne.Chavany

Jupilings: What is the issue you want media to talk about most-

Carla MARTIN: Most of the subjects are well covered by media. To answer your question I would say; Education, Education, Education.

“Education is the foundation for our future. It is empowerment to make choices and emboldens the youth to chase their dreams”. Nita Ambani

HONORE CARD HOLDER

Jupilings: What is your life motto:

Carla MARTIN: Well, I do not have a motto on which my life should be lived or built around. It is more like a personal philosophy: believe in myself, I am curious about everything in life; also dedicated and very patient, never rush the process of “creation”.

Talk with Janet Zuccarini, Visionary & Owner of Gusto 54 Restaurant Group

One of the brightest stars in the eatertainment industry, Janet Zuccarini knows how to successfully integrate food and vibes components to create remarkably welcoming eateries.  A talent, an empowering mentor, and a visionary, she runs exhilarating restaurants where unpretentiously perceptive to charmingly elegant people enjoy the fresh and tasty food.

Janet Zuccarini - CEO & Owner of Gusto 54 Restaurant Group
Janet Zuccarini – CEO & Owner of Gusto 54 Restaurant Group

Savvy with finance with years of experience living in Rome, savouring ethnic dishes, Janet Zuccarini is the owner and CEO of Gusto 54 Restaurant Group and a resident judge at Top Chef Canada. Janet’s restaurants, Trattoria Nervosa, Gusto 101, Pai Northern Thai Kitchen and Kiin, Chubby’s Jamaican Kitchen are among top laid-back favourites serving wonderful, flavour-filled foods and delicious cocktails in Toronto. Her LA Hotspot Felix Trattoria has been awarded  “Restaurant of the Year” by Eater LA,  “#1 Best New Restaurant in America” by Esquire magazine, and one of Los Angeles Magazine’s 10 Best New Restaurants of 2017, finalist at James Beard Foundation Award, is the dope place frequented by Leonardo Di Caprio and Frances McDormand.

Felix Trattoria - LA - Evan Funke’s take on traditional Italian cuisine, with pasta made on sight, right before your eyes.
Felix Trattoria – LA – Evan Funke’s take on traditional Italian cuisine, with pasta made on sight, right before your eyes.

Jupilings: How do you describe yourself?

JZ: Positive. Tenacious. Hard-working. Fun. Zest for life. Lover of food, business, and travel.

Jupilings: What qualities made you successful in the hospitality industry?

JZ: Being in the restaurant business isn’t easy. In fact, it’s probably one of the most challenging industries you could choose as an entrepreneur. When I opened my first restaurant over twenty years ago, I worked sixteen-hour days, seven days a week. I did everything from the bartender to bookkeeper to bussing tables and seating guests. Knowing every angle of your business, and knowing it really well is a huge advantage when it comes to making those big decisions. As a restauranteur, you have to expect challenges, and then have the passion for keeping pushing forward. If you have a genuine love for the work you do, no roadblock or setback will get in the way of your goal.

Trattoria Nervosa - Toronto- House with a rooftop patio offering a chic & chill setting for classic Italian dishes & drinks.
Trattoria Nervosa – Toronto – House with a rooftop patio offering a chic & chill setting for classic Italian dishes & drinks.

Jupilings: What are the branding principles in hospitality/lifestyle that you want to manifest in your restaurants?

JZ: I’m fortunate to have seven successful restaurants under my belt, with two set to launch in 2019, which is incredibly exciting. One thing I’ve known from day one is that you can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to restaurants – something seen in all of my concepts. For example, with Felix in Los Angeles, we knew we had to make it a destination restaurant, and that meant partnering with an exceptionally talented chef and locking down a piece of property on one of the most sought-after foodie streets in the world. With Chubby’s we wanted to bring the warmth and vibrancy of Jamaica – a place that I fell in love with after going there many times on vacation – to Toronto. The strategies for those concepts are vastly different from Gusto 101 or Nervosa which are designed to be neighbourhood fixtures that withstand the test of time. The one common thread that ties all of the restaurants together is the idea of a transporting experience, complete with delicious relevant food, inspiring design, and soulful hospitality. As long as I am grounded in these three pillars, I feel free to innovate and expand wherever my imagination takes me.

Kiin - Toronto
Kiin – Toronto inspired​ by delicate royal Thai cuisine, this marble-tiled restaurant serves artfully composed food.

Jupilings: What are the elements you consider when it comes to conceptualising a new venue?

JZ: Location is certainly key. When we made the jump from just a few restaurants to a global restaurant group in 2015, we solidified our mission to build the most culturally relevant and celebrated collection of restaurants and innovative culinary experiences in the world. Location plays a massive role in bringing this mission to life. Whenever possible, I seek to purchase the real estate in which my restaurants are housed. I believe that design is equally important as incredible food, and purchasing real estate affords me the opportunity to invest in infrastructure and have full control over the details. With any concept, our goal is to create a transporting experience.

Chubby_s Jamaican - Jerk chicken, curries & Jamaican snacks, plus tropical cocktails, served in a resort-like setting.
Chubby_s Jamaican – Jerk chicken, curries & Jamaican snacks, plus tropical cocktails, served in a resort-like setting.
Gusto 101 - Toronto - Southern Italian classics with a global twist in an industrial setting plus wine on tap.
Gusto 101 – Toronto – Southern Italian classics with a global twist in an industrial setting plus wine on tap.

Jupilings: Regarding your latest venture, Felix Trattoria, in Venice Beach, Los Angeles, what sentiments you want to capture & what kind of experience your audience will gain?

JZ: As my first international endeavour, Felix has a special place in my heart. When the opportunity to open a restaurant on Abbott Kinney fell in my lap, I knew I had to bring my A-game. Felix is deeply rooted in the culinary traditions of regional Italy combined with the fresh ingredients grown by California’s greatest family farms. When you walk into Felix, we want you to feel like you’re at home – everything from the food to the atmosphere feels comforting, but in the same breath, extraordinary. Our Chef, Evan Funke, brings the time-honoured tradition of pasta fatta mano or handmade pasta to Felix, resulting in some incredible dishes. We’re so grateful to have been honoured as both “Best New Restaurant in America” by Esquire Magazine and “Restaurant of the Year” by Eater LA. The transporting experience at Felix is next level, but you’ll just have to try it yourself to see.

Felix Trattoria - LA - Evan Funke’s take on traditional Italian cuisine, with pasta made on sight, right before your eyes.
Felix Trattoria – LA – Evan Funke’s take on traditional Italian cuisine, with pasta made on sight, right before your eyes.
Felix Trattoria - LA - Evan Funke’s take on traditional Italian cuisine, with pasta made on sight, right before your eyes.
Felix Trattoria – LA – Evan Funke’s take on traditional Italian cuisine, with pasta made on sight, right before your eyes.

Jupilings: Best piece of advice you’ve been given?

JZ: My first job was working with my father who brought the first espresso machine to Canada, and I would, as this tiny 12-year-old, haul espresso machines from restaurant to restaurant to help my father out in his business. Seeing how hard he worked first-hand instilled within me a strong work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit. I remember he would always say, “Janet – whatever you do, work for yourself!” Reflecting on where life has taken me, I’m sure his words were a massive influence on the career path I’ve chosen.

Jupilings: As a female entrepreneur can you, please share five tips to achieve one’s career or entrepreneurial aspirations in the hospitality industry?

JZ: Male, female, it doesn’t matter – we’re all just humans here. If someone else in the world can succeed, why can’t I?  All it takes is a big dream, and the grit, hard work, and passion for making it a reality. But advice specific to hospitality? You better want it and want it bad. This business isn’t an easy one, and you have to be prepared for things to go wrong. At the end of the day, if things go sideways, it’s going to be your passion for what you do that will give you the confidence to get back up and make it work.

Gusto 101 - Toronto - Southern Italian classics with a global twist in an industrial setting plus wine on tap.
Gusto 101 – Toronto – Southern Italian classics with a global twist in an industrial setting plus wine on tap.

 

Jupilings: What’s one branding lesson you’ve learned in your career and ventures?

JZ: Authenticity is always central to everything I do. Beyond having incredible food and design, knowing your brand voice is one of the most important things to have locked down – know who you are and who you aren’t; speak to your audience, not at them; and be authentic. Especially with social media, everyone feels like they play a part in your brand. We have thousands of loyal customers both on and offline, and they will let you know if something isn’t right. That’s why when it comes to hiring, I’m very selective with who is part of the team. From the person who manages our Instagram accounts to the server that brings out the plate of food, each team member is an extension of the brand. I’ve learned only to hire awesome, and to invest in those people to ensure they have the tools and training to bring each brand to life.

Jupilings: How do you deal with setbacks?

JZ: Having been in this industry for some time now, I’ve developed a thick skin for any setback that comes my way. Especially when it comes to the restaurant industry, you have to expect the unexpected – but having an indomitable spirit is what allows me to keep going. Sometimes setbacks can be your greatest opportunities. Whether it was a hard lesson that I’ll take with me for the rest of my life or a mistake that turned out to be a blessing in disguise, I try not to be afraid of setbacks as I continue to build my company. I remember when we were building Gusto 101 we ran into some troubles with the construction of the foundation. This roadblock turned out to be one of the best things that could have happened to us as it led to the creation of a basement with a private wine cellar – one of our most celebrated features in which we now host private dinners.

Jupilings: Who inspires you and why?

JZ: One of my earliest inspirations for business was my father who owned his own espresso machine company. Working alongside my father taught me about entrepreneurialism and the hard work it takes to run your own business.  My father was also one of those people who knew how to make people feel special – I have fond memories of homecooked meals growing up where my friends and family would pile around the table to devour anything my parents would serve us. This sense of soulful hospitality is something that is deeply instilled in me and is something I make a point of incorporating into every restaurant I open.

Felix Trattoria - LA - Evan Funke’s take on traditional Italian cuisine, with pasta made on sight, right before your eyes.
Felix Trattoria – LA – Evan Funke’s take on traditional Italian cuisine, with pasta made on sight, right before your eyes.

Jupilings: What does it mean to be a woman today & what are the unique traits that women bring to your industry?

JZ: Today women have a lot of opportunities, and being a woman shouldn’t be seen as a disadvantage. If anything, it’s an advantage – women have an intuitive sensibility around details that most men just don’t possess naturally. This is a massive strength for me when it comes to considering everything from the ingredients of each dish to the unique design details of my restaurants. Something as small as having purse hooks under each bar or good lighting in the bathroom are features that can so easily be missed but make a massive impact when it comes to overall experience.

Yes, society puts pressure on women to follow a certain path – go to school, have a career, get married, have kids – but now, more than ever before women feel empowered to take a path less travelled. When I was younger, I asked my father for the wedding money he had been saving to help with a down payment on a condo. He even made me sign a paper saying I wouldn’t come back to ask for wedding money down the line. Years later, I sold that condo and used that money to buy into the partnership at Trattoria Nervosa. I’ve never looked back since. Don’t be intimidated to enter into a male-dominated industry – it is just an opportunity to put your own unique stamp on the way things are done.

Jupilings: What is your life motto?

JZ: The greatest determiner of success is grit.

The Book of RUMI, Interview with Maryam Mafi

If you — wandering Sufi — are looking for the supreme treasure, do not look outside. Look within, and seek that.”

We climb the mountains, dive deep into the oceans, fly high as an eagle, paint a moment in time, dance to the rhythms to stretch our mental and physical capabilities. We strive to overcome our demons, speak through our soul, pushing past our ego, and keep our spirits full of generosity and compassion. We develop our social interactions, doing our best to be noble and reach oneness with divine reality. Still, it happens that we stumble, and our mind creates illusions, wanders in the den of inequities, and searches externally for peace. As our brain is wired to cause and effect, just then, we look for anchor stories from the most excellent sage to rise above the stagnation.

Delving in the Book of Rumi, translated by Maryam Mafi, is a new collection of 105 Stories and Fables that Illuminate, delight, and information from the six-volume spiritual epic, The Masnavi. Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī, known as Rumi, was a 13th Century Iranian poet, juristIslamic scholartheologian, and Sufi mystic originally from Greater Khorasan. The book is an invariably transcendental gift that tames the ego, explores understanding, heals the brokenhearted, gives hope, and inspires unity and unconditional love.

Maryam Mafi, an Iranian author, translator, and expert on Rumi, dazzles with didactic and entertaining well-known stories of Rumi that capture his mystic wisdom. She has skillfully preserved the exciting and dramatic integrity of Masnavi, which, still in the 21st century, resonates with our personal experiences and evokes courage to reach agape love. Maryam Mafi, a graduate of Tufts, American and Georgetown Universities, is tirelessly on the mission to acquaint the west with Eastern literature.

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Interview with Maryam Mafi

Jupilings: What attracted you to Rumi, to begin with-

MM: I came across a book on Rumi by an English scholar called, The Way of Passion; and I was set on fire! I felt as if all my questions about spirituality and life, in general, were finally explained to me in the simplest, most eloquent manner.

Jupilings: Rumi’s masterwork “Masnavi”, how does it impact our modern lives-

MM: The Masnavi is often referred to as the Persian Quran. We can learn unrivalled guidance from Rumi in his Masnavi, ageless insights into how to live our lives more honestly and with integrity, even in these times of extreme conflict and mistrust.

Jupilings: What was the biggest challenge when translating “Masnavi”-

MM: Comprehending the original Sufi concepts.

Jupilings: What does Rumi celebrate

MM: Beyond all- Love.

Jupilings: What are Rumi’s views on women-

MM: He has great respect for women and considers them no less than men.

Jupilings: What does spirituality mean to you

MM: Love.

Jupilings: Please walk us through the process of literary translation, (how do you choose a book,…)- 

MM: Well, I’ve been translating Rumi for the past 20 years so I can tell you about how I choose a poem or a story. Generally, I pick the pieces instinctively, or they’re all-time favourites; like the stories in my latest book, “The Book of Rumi”, which I’ve translated into prose and will be available on Amazon in December. If I need to organise the works under various headings or chapters, I sort them out afterwards not before I translate them. Other translators probably do it the other way round; the rational way! I go with my heart!

Jupilings: Three tips to work with publishers-

MM: I feel blessed that so far my publishers have always come to me. I used to work for a publisher when I finished university so I’m familiar with the other side of the spectrum and it can be quite daunting for writers. You could begin by writing to every single publisher who publishes books like the one you have written and hope one of them replies. It’s a similar process for finding a job. These days though, self-publishing is very popular and often great books are picked from amongst them and published later by publishing companies.

Jupilings: Do you have a daily ritual when you are working on a book-

MM: Yes, I start work first thing in the morning; often after a yoga and meditation practice. I don’t like to break my day, so I work straight through often missing lunch. I might go for a long walk if I feel stuck or just to get some movement in my body. I don’t work late at night anymore because my eyes get too tired from the screen.

Jupilings: Tips on personal branding as a literary translator-

MM: I’m the worst person to answer this question, I only work on material I like and have been dedicated to translating my spiritual master, Rumi; and hopefully other Sufi masters in the future. So I wouldn’t call that commercially branding myself successfully!

Jupilings: What does women empowerment mean to you- 

MM:  Trusting our instincts and our intellects; but above all, trusting our hearts.

Jupilings: What do you do to conquer fear or self-doubt:

MM: I think fear and self-doubt are two playful little monkeys who love to play with our egos because they’re cut from the same cloth. As long as we know who they are and what they represent we can negotiate with them. I like to think that they’ll eventually leave us alone at one point in our lives and find better entertainment.

Jupilings: What is your life motto-

MM:  I like to say: ‘This too shall pass,’ and adhere to it every time I come across a difficulty. However, I think it’s more complicated than that. I tend to think the old fashion way, that we have a moral obligation to do our absolute best physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually, to help another human being, in whatever capacity, when we are in a position to do so.
Also, I do sincerely believe that when you do good, eventually at some point good shall be done to you. The cliché of what goes around comes around may sound simple, but it’s one of the most valuable basic truths of life.

Maryam Mafi’s collection of Rumi translations are available on Amazon

Elegant Interior Design​ & Luxury Experience at Don Alfonso 1890 – Interview with Nadia Di Donato, Vice President & Creative Director, Liberty Entertainment Group

Nadia Di Donato, Vice President & Creative Director- Liberty Entertainment Group
Nadia Di Donato, Vice President & Creative DirectorLiberty Entertainment Group

Love and passion are the foundations of southern Italy. The jewel-toned sea, the mighty Mount Vesuvius, the whisper of a rushing wind carries you to this fiery landscape where a halo of calmness cuffs your soul. A place where the rich aroma of local cuisine redolent of legends and traditions is the jet-setters’ playground. Don Alfonso 1890, run by the Iaccarino family, in the heart of Sant’Agata in Amalfi Coast, is that charming place for nobility, food connoisseurs, and lovers.

Commercial photograpy
Don Alfonso 1890 Toronto
Commercial photograpy
Don Alfonso 1890 Toronto

Thanks to Nick Di Donato, President, and CEO of Liberty Entertainment Group, and Nadia Di Donato, Vice President & Creative Director, the Michelin star awarded Don Alfonso 1890 has enriched Toronto’s fine dining experience. A match made in heaven, the culinary romance, and the upscale sophistication of Amalfi Coast merged with the expertise of Liberty Entertainment Group is brought to the hip and sparkling Toronto. The narrative, the Mediterranean flavors, the phenomenal culinary, the creativity, the exceptional service, the remarkable art unleashes the Proustian effect. A revival of an impression from our past life, a lost memory, a heartwarming movie, a desire, or merely living a splendid lifestyle has been introduced in our modern and booming metropolis. The elegant restaurant is an oasis for titans of the financial district, visionary moguls, charming clans, or driven patrons.

Commercial photograpy
Don Alfonso 1890 Toronto
Commercial photograpy
Don Alfonso 1890 Toronto

The exclusive interview with the Nadia Di Donato sheds lights from the concept to execution of the Don Alfonso’s 1890 interior design process.

Jupilings: What are the branding principles in entertainment/lifestyle that you want to manifest in your creative designs-

NDD: For individual venue: Firstly, I want to establish the intended perceived image of the restaurant in the first 30 seconds of entering and then the subsequent emotional response to the entire experience. My design is not limited to space itself; it extends through the many layers from artwork; to furniture; to tableware; to the menu and collateral design; to wardrobe. The details create the “design magic” that is at the essence of customer experience.

Commercial photograpy
Don Alfonso 1890 Toronto

By design, These establishments are either located in historically designated properties or in signature neighbourhoods throughout the city. These classic shells provide a particular opportunity to juxtapose traditional elements with a new modern design which has now somewhat become signature to Liberty Group.

Today, with an impressive collection of uniquely designed venues ranging from casual eateries, nightclubs, elegant restaurants, large banquet facilities and its crowning jewel Casa Loma, under my creative direction, the Liberty Entertainment Group has gained recognition as one of North America’s top hospitality companies.

Jupilings: What are the elements you consider when it comes to design and to conceptualise an entertainment venue-

NDD: One of the most interesting projects that a designer can take on is designing a restaurant. It can be daunting and stressful to come up with concepts. At times I find myself stumbling upon some “design magic” through the exploratory process. Narrowing it down to a final design concept and then seeing it through the build process to customer enjoyment which is a very rewarding experience.

Conceptualisation: All design components revolve around clearly defining my target market. Every detail departs from that one notion…”How do I want the customer to feel.”

Once I have that clear understanding in mind, I establish the identity of the restaurant by pairing a design style palette (ie, furnishing, coloring, lighting, construction materials) with a visual components package (ie: tableware, uniforms, signage, logo, menus, marketing collateral, etc) which I use as my framework to ensure the overall image of the restaurant is cohesive and consistent. This phase is the most crucial part of the overall process. It results in a design vision that guides the entire project.

Don Alfonso 1890 Toronto
Don Alfonso 1890 Toronto

Personal design style: I see interior spaces more through the eyes of an artist rather than as a technical interior designer. I’m always thinking out of the box and very hands-on working closely with my construction team (whom I’ve been working with for over 25 years. When I walk into a raw space, I always consider the existing elements that can be utilised in my design. Since most of my design projects are located in historically designated buildings, I have an immense appreciation and respect for the intricate details of historic design and always juxtapose original with new.

Personally, I am an art lover and a believer that fine art is like an accent piece of jewellery. Signature to my design is my inclusion of individually curated or commissioned art pieces tailored to reflect the personality of the space, elevating the dining experience by adding originality and intrigue.

Jupilings: Regarding your latest venue Don Alfonso 1890 Toronto, what influenced Liberty Group to introduce Mediterranean fine dining experience-

NDD: Firstly our roots are Italian; therefore it was a natural fit to partner with Chefs Alfonso and Ernesto in this special restaurant. It is the first restaurant of its kind in Toronto to showcase father and son world-class Michelin star chefs. A display of incredible talent in a beautiful space unlike any other in the city. (If I’m allowed to say so myself 🙂

Commercial photograpy
Don Alfonso 1890 Toronto 

The intention was to elevate the bar in the local hospitality industry in hopes of establishing a new standard of dining and capture the attention of critics on a global scale including the recognition of soon to be Michelin rating in Canada (Michelin to date has not published in Canada). (Word has it that they will be doing so as of November this year. We like to think that perhaps with Don Alfonso in Toronto; we were partially responsible for this finally happening.)

Commercial photograpy
Don Alfonso 1890 Toronto 
Commercial photograpy
Don Alfonso 1890 Toronto

Jupilings: What sentiments you want to capture in Don Alfonso 1890 ’s ambience-

NDD: When I experienced Don Alfonso 1890 in the Amalfi Coast, the concept that resonated with me the most was the simplistic yet intricate contrast in the food. The contrast between classic ingredients prepared with a fresh, clean, organic, sophisticated approach. That is what I wanted to capture in the space.  The contrast between the historical setting of this original mid-19th-century building provided the perfect backdrop to juxtapose a fresh, clean, sophisticated modern approach to the interior space. Everything in the restaurant from art installations, furniture, upholstery, lighting, linens, uniforms, menus, dishware, glassware, silverware and accessories are custom designed to reflect the above.

Commercial photograpy
Don Alfonso 1890 Toronto
Commercial photograpy
Don Alfonso 1890 

A few design details listed below:

Reception:

I chose a Desk rather than hostess stand for a more inviting Concierge-style reception.

Commercial photograpy
Don Alfonso 1890 Toronto

A newly designed 30’ waterfall feature with intricate Italian porcelain inlay adorns the bar area to give the sense of water of the Amalfi coast.

Temperature controlled champagne room featuring our extensive inventory of fine champagne.

Original wine cellar built in the mid 19th century houses our broad range of wines.

Commercial photograpy
Don Alfonso 1890 Toronto 

Open concept Kitchen designed for transparency and guest interaction takes up 50% of the restaurant floor plate. Guests are walked through the kitchen at the end of their dining experience.

Design: 38” counter heights for clearer sight line from the dining room into the kitchen

Material: sleek Carrera laminate in 5’ x 10’ porcelain sheets used for counters ideal for cleanliness and durability.

The main dining room is designed to showcase our chef eight-course tasting classic and contemporary menus. Round tables and fine linen were intentionally used to facilitate fluid formal dining service. Custom Cartier style chairs ergonomically designed for maximum comfort.

The mezzanine area is designed in contrast to the main dining room. The custom furniture and design exudes a more casual atmosphere conducive to the al-a-carte menu and molecular drink program. Fabrics and furniture styling is an eclectic combination of cowhide, leather, and linen sofas and chairs custom designed to dining height. The extensive 38’ kitchen/bar showcases food and drinks preparation at all times.

Commercial photograpy
Don Alfonso 1890 Toronto
Commercial photograpy
Don Alfonso 1890 Toronto

Jupilings: What kind of experience your audience will gain at Don Alfonso 1890-

NDD: Don Alfonso 1890 is the first restaurant in North America from Michelin Star Chefs Alfonso and Ernesto Iaccarino exposing our audience to a menu of Amalfi coast flavours in an interior accented by priceless art.

Housed in the historical Consumer’s Gas Building the interior design offers a sense of glamour and opulence yet comfort and relaxation. Not only is the experience captured through the surroundings, but it is also about the artistry in food design, custom designed plating, the finest linens, every last detail is intended to transport guests on an extraordinary gastronomical experience unparalleled to any other in the city.

Commercial photograpy
Commercial photograpy

Jupilings: What does intelligent and elegant design mean to you-

NDD: Intelligent design is an interpretation of the function of space and successfully transforming that space into a showcase. Since my background is in graphic design, each project is an art piece. Design should be timeless, sophisticated, clever and primarily relevant to the intention of the restaurant. The most important element is using colours and materials that translate to the intended feel of the space rather than those latest trending palettes.

Jupilings: Best piece of advice you’ve been given-

NDD: Interior design is like fashion, it changes. Stay away from anything that might date itself or will be so flashy or interesting that it’s going to take away from the intended experience. It is best when you feel it, but it doesn’t get in the way. Also, not really specific to design, I was once told not to take my work too seriously as I’d miss all the fun. 🙂

Jupilings: As a female entrepreneur and creative individual, can you please share five tips to tap into one’s potential to achieve one’s career or entrepreneurial aspirations-

NDD: Find a career to which you are adapted by nature, and then work hard at it. That is about as near to a formula for success as one will ever get.

When creating and innovating, work is play. Never take yourself too seriously. Don’t be afraid of thinking out of the box. Never accept the notion that it can’t be done.

Never be afraid of taking risks. If it doesn’t go well. It will be your most valuable lesson.

There is really never a right or wrong to a design style. Whatever your approach, hone it and own it.

Be blind to the difference between a male or female entrepreneur. There is no difference:) I never believed there were obstacles because I am a woman.

80% of my work is construction. I am always surrounded by men. And I’ve never been phased by it one bit 🙂

Commercial photograpy
Don Alfonso 1890 Toronto 

Jupilings: What’s one branding lesson you’ve learned in your career and ventures-

NDD: In hospitality, You can’t be all things to all people. The most important and expensive lesson I learned was not to ever waiver. Research, focus, execute from A to Z and stay true to what you set off to do. This has been the tried and true formula for the success of the Liberty Group. Although a diverse portfolio, each venue is expert in and very specific to its particular concept.

Jupilings: How do you deal with setbacks-

NDD: In any situation, I will always see the cup half full. There is no problem that doesn’t have a solution. I never sweat the small stuff. Moreover, I never dwell on a problem.

No one is immune to setbacks. Trust me I have had many. Whether personal or professional it always made me a little wiser, stronger, and better for it.

Trust that you are capable of doing amazing things—and even more so if you have to work through tough challenges.

I never blame. Exploring the way forward is much healthier than trying to blame someone or something. Stay focused on the bigger picture, commit to it and no matter what, see it through from start to finish.

Jupilings: Who inspires you and why-

NDD: On a personal level, my husband and my two sons truly inspire me every day. Their ambition, perseverance, focus and accomplishments constantly give me the drive to accomplish slightly more than I did yesterday.

As a designer and businesswomen, I draw inspiration from the experiences I’ve acquired through extensive travel. The privilege of interacting with the diversities of various cultures has defined my creative style. My designs are often an infusion of elements inspired from all corners of the world.

Jupilings: What does it mean to be a woman today-

NDD: I have been extremely fortunate to come from a pedigree of very strong independent, accomplished women. Also, am grateful to have been provided opportunities denied to many previous generations of women, being able to spend time with my children and travel, while working and creating a successful business.

I have always felt that no matter the gender, there are no limits to what someone can accomplish through determination, hard work and focus.

Today, the sky’s the limit for women across the world. Being a woman in 2018 means being a warrior for constant change. I stand on the shoulders of the brilliant women before me. Every day I try always to be aware of what they have afforded me, and I am grateful for the tools I was given.

Today women are empowered to find out where the struggles for equality still lie, and have a responsibility to reach out to those who need support, and speak out about the areas of inequality that persist.

Commercial photograpy
Don Alfonso 1890 Toronto

Jupilings: What is your life motto-

NDD: If you can see it in your mind, you will hold it in your hands. Keep working. Stay persistent. One day you will wake up exactly where you want to be.

Commercial photograpy
Don Alfonso 1890 Toronto

Interview with Robert Vanderhorst – Surrealist Painter

Robert Vanderhorst’s creativity propels us to squint and examine the original or the rational with intention. At that point, you discover the conflict, the unacceptable, the unpleasant or the hidden desire. The imagery gushes over, the psyche is liberated, and the visual stimulus unravels the nuances of our ideas and rules.  He is adept at bringing together various mental pictures into a fusion of tenacious conventions, compromised perceptions, and wavering imaginations. His capability to point out that impressions, symbols, and patterns have unrealized possibilities, rattles the viewer. Although he deliberately composes the uncertainties, the freedom of thought, choice and the inclination of progress orbit symbolically and eminently in his artwork.

This painting explores the concept of choice. The choices we’re presented, the ones we make, the ones we don’t and the ones that are made for us. Through these choices, we can either find our way or we can be ‘LOST. Two divers, who know each other from past adventures, find themselves in an unlikely environment swimming down an empty country road next to a farmer’s field. The scenery is bleak and grey with the only colour being a hint of silvery purple on the distant tree branches. The corn field next to the road had been long since been hacked down. Snow fills the furrows and the remaining bleached grasses at the roadside crackle as the wind shakes off thin shards of ice. A light snow is falling. One of the divers notices a series of repetitive rectangular shapes running along the tree line and begins heading across the field towards them. A set of doorways come into focus through the cold mist. The other diver stops, hovering above the dirt road. He’s confronted by a foreboding black carriage with two harnessed horses standing before him, motionless. The diver stares directly ahead and is transfixed by the stars in the universe that envelopes the darkness of the horse’s head. Where am I he wonders? What direction should I go?
Lost – By Robert Vanderhorst – This painting explores the concept of choice. The choices we’re presented, the ones we make, the ones we don’t and the ones that are made for us. Through these choices, we can either find our way or we can be ‘LOST. Two divers, who know each other from past adventures, find themselves in an unlikely environment swimming down an empty country road next to a farmer’s field. The scenery is bleak and grey with the only colour being a hint of silvery purple on the distant tree branches. The corn field next to the road had been long since been hacked down. Snow fills the furrows and the remaining bleached grasses at the roadside crackle as the wind shakes off thin shards of ice. A light snow is falling. One of the divers notices a series of repetitive rectangular shapes running along the tree line and begins heading across the field towards them. A set of doorways come into focus through the cold mist. The other diver stops, hovering above the dirt road. He’s confronted by a foreboding black carriage with two harnessed horses standing before him, motionless. The diver stares directly ahead and is transfixed by the stars in the universe that envelopes the darkness of the horse’s head. Where am I he wonders? What direction should I go?

 

Fate's Passage Robert Vanderhorst
Fate’s Passage Robert Vanderhorst – The scene takes place in the Jardin des Plantes in Paris. At the end of the light dappled gravel path is the Museum of Natural History. The ‘Museum’ is on this side of the doorway, not through it. The mother and her young son are going out through ’Fate’s Passage’. As she exits, she slowly becomes the space around her. The man standing at the doorway is the museum’s greeter. The astronaut has recently arrived, confused but intrigued. Near the exit, the shadow of a stooped Churchill leans heavily on his cane and the grey figure of an arrogant Napoleon standing on the balcony both suggest that they been guests of the museum for quite some time. This ‘Museum’ is a spectre of our future. Last thing I remember, I was Running for the door I had to find the passage back To the place I was before “Relax, ” said the night man, “We are programmed to receive. You can check-out any time you like, But you can never leave! ” Hotel California – The Eagles

Jupilings: Tell us about yourself and how you got into art-

RV: My talent comes through my father’s side of the family. He was an artist/graphic artist in Holland, and he continued that profession after coming to Canada post-WWII. Once I understood that art was my passion, my career path was set. Seeing Dali and Magritte’s work for the first time cemented my love for surrealism.

VIEW FROM THE GALLERY, Part One by Robert Vanderhorst
VIEW FROM THE GALLERY, Part One by Robert Vanderhorst

Jupilings: The fundamental principle in your creations-

RV: Exploration and mystery. Keep everyone thinking and guessing.

Jupilings: What is your perspective on life-

RV: Life is short. Be kind and generous, work hard and stay true to your passion, play when you can, travel and experience life as much as possible and keep your sense of humour intact.

The Immigrant Robert Vanderhorst
The Immigrant Robert Vanderhorst

Jupilings: What do you sell in your art-

RV: To think outside the box.

VIEW FROM THE GALLERY, Part Two by Robert Vanderhorst
VIEW FROM THE GALLERY, Part Two by Robert Vanderhorst

Jupilings: What motivates you to create, is it an emotional state, philosophy of life, politics or advocacy- 

RV: A desire to create realistic imagery that engages, asks questions and searches for answers where the answers ask more questions.

Jupilings: What is your favourite subject to illustrate-

RV: Time and space.

MICOMICON by Robert Vanderhorst
MICOMICON by Robert Vanderhorst

Jupilings: What does “confusion” mean to you? Also, what about “Normality”-

RV: I’m most fond of one of my image titles, ‘And You Thought You Were Normal.’ Says what I need to about confusion and what we perceive as normal.

Jupilings: What does women empowerment mean to you-

RV: Equality.

THE AMERICANIZATION OF GUSTAVE’S PARIS by Robert Vanderhorst
THE AMERICANIZATION OF GUSTAVE’S PARIS by Robert Vanderhorst

Jupilings: What are your tips about building a brand name as an artist-

RV: Develop a unique personal style and stay true to your art. Work your ass off, don’t compromise, network and promote using new and old technologies as much as possible.

Jupilings: What do you do to conquer fear or self-doubt-

RV: Ignore it. Believe in yourself and what you’re trying to accomplish and ignore anyone who tells you it can’t be done.

Magritte's Dark Angel By Robert Vanderhorst
Magritte’s Dark Angel By Robert Vanderhorst

Jupilings: The disruptive blockchain technology is addressing the problems of transparency and authenticity for artists; it will increase art sales, democratize art investment, and last but not least allow artists to be fairly paid.  What are your thoughts about the blockchain technology especially in support of art? Would you consider using the blockchain technology platform to reach global art enthusiasts? What are the problems in your industry do you want these platforms to solve?

RV: I am not versed in this platform and at this stage not particularly interested in another tech learning curve. Everyone should be paid fairly and on time, artists, in particular, considering they are often taken for granted and put at the bottom of the list. If this tech addresses the issues you’ve stated above effectively, then I’m all for it.

Jupilings: What superpower you would like to have ? and why- 

RV: I’m happy as is.

Jupilings: Which movie you would have liked to be the lead actor- 

RV: I was a Zombie in a George A. Romero film, and that was perfect for me. Don’t need to be a lead.

THE SENTINEL by Robert Vanderhorst
THE SENTINEL by Robert Vanderhorst

Jupilings: What is your life motto-

RV: Life is complicated. Keep your sense of humour and try not to be an ass.

In the Absence of Light Robert Vanderhorst
In the Absence of Light Robert Vanderhorst
COUNTERVAIL by Robert Vanderhorst
COUNTERVAIL by Robert Vanderhorst
THE YACHT CLUB by Robert Vanderhorst
THE YACHT CLUB by Robert Vanderhorst
ROBERT VANDERHORST
ROBERT VANDERHORST

 

Images: Lost & Fate Passage courtesy of Robert Vanderhorst, other images from Saatchi Art Gallery.

Stone Paris Fine Jewellery-Interview with Marie Poniatowski

French designers have long created the most stylistically elegant and innovative brands. This outstanding reputation has been originated by the 17th-century French monarch Louis XIV and his shrewd minister of finance, Jean-Baptiste Colbert. The Sun King had an eye for fashion and, with the help of Colbert, as the latter famously indicated: “fashions were to France what the mines of Peru were to Spain;  Louis XIV established France as the leading luxury and chic fashion capital of the world.

The French way of luxury attire, accessories, and living has evolved from the elaborate fashion of the 17th-century to cool and effortlessly elegant style. Defined by “I woke up like this” attitude, the French design allows the individual to shine with a hint of playfulness. The Stone Paris fine jewelry has this quality ingrained in its DNA. Founded by Marie Poniatowski, a Parisian from a high nobility family whose origins go back to the 15th century admiringly creates sensual and modern jewelry adorned with romanticism.

Marie Poniatowski - Stone Paris Jewellery
Marie Poniatowski – Stone Paris Jewellery

Her collection is for the brave who is not afraid of the stigma of being emotionally tender, but the one that graciously asserts, ” I am the beloved who chooses to abide or break the rules. The wearer is attentive to detail, gentle in nature, and connoisseur of timeless elegance. As for the androgynous pieces of Stone Paris’s fine jewelry, a touch of royal rebellion that screams rocker-chic will transform your style delicately.

 

Romeo et Juliette montage chaine - Stone Paris Jewellery
Romeo et Juliette montage chaine – Stone Paris Jewellery

Interview with Marie Poniatowski:

Jupilings: How do you describe yourself-

MP: I’m an entrepreneur; I design fine jewelry for Stone Paris, the brand I founded 14 years ago. I live in Paris with my husband and daughter. I’m very straightforward, so I always tell it like it is! Moreover, while I create luxurious accessories, I’m very casual, and my favorite thing is to be with my family and friends in my country house outside of the city.

Décor boutique Stone Paris Jewellery
Décor boutique Stone Paris Jewellery

Jupilings: What set you on this path of designing jewelry- 

MP: I used to work in the movie industry, but when I had my daughter, I wanted to make a career change to have a more “conventional” schedule. Entirely by chance, after a trip to New York City, I realized there were no fine jewelry designers in France apart from Place Vendôme… So in 2004, I decided to create an accessible, yet precious jewelry line that a woman could afford to buy herself and wear every day.

Jupilings: What are the principles in lifestyle that you want to manifest in your brand 

MP: Be yourself and be comfortable in your skin. That’s why I try to design pieces for everyday wear, the thinnest and lightest possible, so you don’t even feel them.

Yasmine bagues - Stone Paris Jewellery
Yasmine bagues – Stone Paris Jewellery

Jupilings: What does elegant design mean to you

MP: I think elegance is very subjective, fortunately not everyone has the same taste! However, to me, it is about sobriety and subtlety. I will not be the most elegant wearing heels and a gown because I won’t be comfortable. I would feel more elegant with a white shirt and a pair of jeans. Maybe it’s because I’m French… Less is more!

Cry Me A River Collier Or rose et diamants - Stone Paris Jewellery
Cry Me A River Collier Or rose et diamants – Stone Paris Jewellery

Jupilings: What does luxury mean to you

MP: In my opinion, Luxury has nothing to do with materialistic things. It’s being able to do something I love for a living, enjoying going to the office every day, working with an amazing team, it’s priceless…

Stone Paris Jewellery
Blood Diamonds – Stone Paris Jewellery

Jupilings: What is the favorite aspect of your business

MP: My favorite part is the design, especially after sending out the drawings when we receive the first sample and I get to see my creation take shape. Sometimes it surpasses my expectations; sometimes it’s disappointing, so I have to rethink the whole thing, anyway it’s always exhilarating.

Stone Paris Jewellery
Stone Paris Jewellery

Jupilings: What is the hardest part of your business

MP: The hardest is probably the administrative part, just because I don’t really like numbers and paperwork, so I have to be twice as serious about it.

Jupilings: What kind of creative patterns, routines, or rituals do you have

MP: My only ritual is to gather the whole team for a big brainstorm before starting a new collection. I like having their feedback on the previous one, and their feeling of what customers want, or what they think the brand is lacking. I work very closely with my team, and I like taking the time to discuss it with them, it’s good to make some distance to look at the big picture.

Stone Paris Jewellery
Stone Paris Jewellery

Jupilings: The best piece of advice you’ve been given

MP: It’s not really advice, but how my parents taught me to be humble, respectful and hard-working, that’s what I try to pass on to my daughter.

Jupilings: What’s one branding lesson you’ve learned in your career and ventures

MP: Social media… It’s vital for a brand now, but it’s challenging for me because as a designer brand, people are interested in me and my life while I am not particularly eager to put myself forward. I try to get better at it, and I’m lucky to have great people helping me with that.

Jupilings: How do you deal with setbacks

MP: I used to be very stressed out and spend sleepless nights when there was a problem. Now I have grown, I deal with setbacks more peacefully. It’s better to avoid panic, stay calm, and positive to find the best solution for the business.

Jupilings: Who inspires you and why

MP: I’m very inspired by women like Simone Veil who fight for women’s rights. I am so thankful for women like her who are willing to be pioneers and set an example for generations to come.

Jupilings: What does it mean to be a woman today

MP: Women have to multi-task today; we have to be wives, mothers, businesswomen all at the same time. I think it can be challenging to juggle with everything, more than it is for men. Today I feel we are more aware of that and how important it is to support each other as women.

Bague Tess - Stone Paris Jewellery
Bague Tess – Stone Paris Jewellery

Jupilings: Which movie you would have liked to be the leading actor

MP: Karen Blixen in Out of Africa. It’s one of my favorite movies, and I have so much admiration for her. Living such an adventurous life in such freedom is amazing to me.

Jupilings: What is your life motto

MP: Living in the moment, not being too nostalgic about the past, and not worrying too much about the future.

Interview with Sue Tilley – The Artist & The Muse

“The most potent muse of all is our own inner child”

What is ideal? What drives us? What provokes us? What lifts us? We get moving by our physical requirements, by feeling safe, being valued, belongingness, but each of us aspires to reach our full potential and eventually achieve our transcendence.

“What a man can be, he must be”

Doing what we are capable and achieve our greatness is driven by force within our psyche. It can be an idea, a higher purpose, a passion or a muse. Whether an invisible spirit, a demon, a place or the most authentic organism on the planet, the muse deliberately takes over the wheel of a drive. It triggers a spark and lifts you to a place where you can release your genius.

Sue Tilley, the muse behind Luciano Freud, “Benefits Supervisor Sleeping “(1995) that broke records when it was sold to Roman Abramovich in 2008 for £17 million ($33.6 million) is the inspiration that pushed Freud to the edge of his potential.

Sue Tilley
Sue Tilley

Tilley, a local government worker in London and a close friend of Leigh Bowery, a performing artist, fashion designer and the proprietor of extravagant London Club “Taboo,”was part of the hedonistic lifestyle of the 80’s. She met Freud, through Leigh, who was also an inspiration and Freud’s sitter. The iconic plumpness of her curves and folds became one of the most valuable life-size masterworks of human forms. Freud’s exceptional techniques intertwined with Tilley’s authentic and unpretentious repose make the viewer uncomfortable yet with admiration for both the artist and the sitter.

Fast forward, Tilley has retired from her job, and she is exploring her talents as a writer, an illustrator and fashion collaborator with House of Fendi. Her cartoonish drawings of ordinary stuff are printed on Fendi’s Men’s SS2018 “corporate escapism” collection. She also creates portraits and draws dull everyday objects, as she charmingly characterizes them.

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The magic appeal in her drawings is her ability to observe and render the banal into a jolly artwork. She does not push any boundaries, only reminds us that the ordinary is true, it is present and part of life. Her honest illustration of things that occupy our life moments stamp her “joie de vivre.” Sue Tilley finds her muse deep from her life philosophy and hones her potential in a spirited style.

As for the inspiration behind Tilley’s adventure in writing the biography of “Leigh Bowery: The Life and Times of an Icon” was to pay tribute to her closest friend. She reveals London’s 1980’s nightclub culture and radiantly portrays with such a wit, Bowery as the most provocative and avant-garde performers of that era.

Interview

Jupilings: Tell us about yourself, how you got into illustration and collaboration with House of Fendi:

ST: I trained as an art teacher but I never really worked in that field and more or less stopped drawing. However about five years ago I met a Portuguese artist called Rui Miguel Leitao Ferreira, and we became very good friends. He encouraged me to draw, and I got the bug again. I had a big exhibition and a good friend, Julian Ganio came, and he really loved my pictures and bought several. He is very close to Silvia Fendi and works with her on the Fendi menswear collection, and he suggested that I should draw some everyday objects for spring/summer 2018.

Screen Shot 2018-07-30 at 9.01.42 PMScreen Shot 2018-07-30 at 9.02.25 PM

Jupilings: Which side of Susan Tilley, drives the wheel of her life?  

ST: To be honest, I’m not very driven. I tend to wait for projects to come along and just go with the flow.

Credit: Sue Tilley
Credit: Sue Tilley

Jupilings: You have indicated that your artworks are inspired by mundane. How or why you find excitement in mundane-

ST: Oh, I love ordinary things. I can find pleasure in anything. I didn’t really know what to do for my art exhibition, so decided to base it on my life and draw things that I like such as Dove Bodywash, Heat Magazine, and foods that I love and other things that give me pleasure. I haven’t got expensive taste although I like good quality things.

Credit: Sue Tilley
Credit: Sue Tilley

Jupilings: When you are creating a work of art, you are forging an engagement with a situation or an emotion. Do you aspire to drive public awareness to activism, in any stage of your creation?

ST: Sometimes Rui and I work together, and we put on an exhibition about Brexit and how it was going to ruin Britains relationship with the rest of Europe. However, generally I just paint things that I like, and they are merely for pleasure. I seem to get many commissions to paint dogs, I have no interest in dogs at all, but I like how the owners really love them.

Credit: Sue Tilley - Boris
Credit: Sue Tilley – Boris
Credit: Sue Tilley
Credit: Sue Tilley
Credit: Sue Tilley
Credit: Sue Tilley

 

Credit: Sue Tilley
Credit: Sue Tilley

Jupilings: What does women empowerment mean to you?

ST: It just means that women should have the same rights as men and be treated equally in the home and the workplace.

Jupilings: How do you keep your confidence up as a woman?

St: Just by being me and answering men back if they make a sexist comment or if they try to tell me something that they think I wouldn’t understand as I am a woman.

Jupilings: One advice to a millennial woman

St: Believe in yourself and don’t pander to man and their stupid whims.

Jupilings: What do you do to conquer fear or self-doubt:

ST: I think “ I can do this and I will do this” To be honest as I’ve got older I’ve had less self-doubt. You aren’t going to please everyone, and not everyone is going to like you so get on with your life and remove negative people from your life.

Jupilings: How do you describe your relation with Lucian Freud:

St: I just worked for him, we were friends like work colleagues, we had a chat when I was there, but the friendship didn’t continue after I stopped working for him.

Sue Tilley - by Luciano Freud
Sue Tilley – by Luciano Freud

Jupilings: Best advice you received from Lucian Freud:

ST: I’m not a great one for taking advice, and he wasn’t a great one for giving it. However, I did follow his way of eating..buy the best quality fresh produce that you can afford and cook it simply.

Jupilings: One thing about Lucian Freud that nobody knew about it:

ST: He was absolutely hilarious.

Jupilings: What about Leigh Bowery, what did you learn from him that had a positive effect on your life?

ST: Everything that has happened in my life can be traced back to Leigh. For the confidence, he gave me and the belief that he had in me. He was the best friend that anyone could ever have.

Credit: Sue Tilley - Leigh Browery
Credit: Sue Tilley – Leigh Browery

Jupilings: What are your tips about building a brand name as an artist?

ST: I’m not an expert on this, but I put a lot of my work on Instagram and Facebook and try to reach as big an audience as possible.

Credit: Sue Tilley
Credit: Sue Tilley

Jupilings: What superpower you would like to have ? and why?

ST: To be able to eat ice cream all day without it affecting my weight or health. I gave up sugar two months ago, but once a week I allow myself to have one scoop of ice cream.

Jupilings: Which movie you would have liked to be the leading actor: 

ST: Moulin Rouge…but as I can’t sing or dance I wouldn’t have been very good.

Jupilings: What is your life motto?

ST: Just say “Yes.”

The woman behind Spallanzani Jewels – Interview with Gaia Spallanzani

GAIA

Dazzling, radiant, appreciated, loved or inspired are among the many attributes & feelings that we all experience whether through our intimate relations to another or our relationship with ourselves. Over the course of centuries,  people tried to appease Gods with gifts, a gesture of gratitude and honour or exchanged them when they met another tribe to build trust. Increasingly, many other celebrations expanded the gift-giving culture. However, at its core, the symbolic act is to honour someone or oneself for personality traits and achievements.

ONLY YOU - LOVE ring Spallanzani Jewels
ONLY YOU – LOVE ring Spallanzani Jewels

Gracefully, communicating the message of recognition based on deep affections and best wishes is not always easy.  Still, explaining oneself with a single word that says it all, is pleasantly indulging.

Only you Bracelet - Spallanzani Jewels
Only you Bracelet – Spallanzani Jewels

The House of Spallanzani Jewels, founded in 1880, is the embodiment of that stylish and elegance admiration. A Milanese jewelry house with 130 years of savoir-faire and a portfolio of iconic designs, Spallanzani has successfully moved through modern times. Only You, the signature design of the house was inspired by Guido Spallanzani’s, (son of the founder) gift to his wife Rosabianca, a coded bracelet with the message – TSTQCA (Tu sei tutto quello che amo / you are all that I love). 

Stella Bracelet Spallanzani Jewels
Stella Bracelet Spallanzani Jewels

Today, Gaia Spallanzani, at the helm of the family business, has taken the jewellery house to new heights. Inspired by the glamour deeply rooted in a desire to influence the power of belief, she captures the “Oomph” in the collections. With her vision and the craftsmanship of Italian finest artisans, the Spallanzani’s jewelry makes an exceptional gift.

Interview

Jupilings: How do you describe yourself-

GS: I am a positive person, very superstitious but also very determined. My brain never stops, and I am always looking for new ideas and inspirations. I can also define myself as a very active woman because I balance my work life and my family life… (I have three kids)

Forever Spallanzani Jewels
Forever Spallanzani Jewels

Jupilings: What are the principles in lifestyle that you want to manifest in Spallanzani brand-

GS: At Spallanzani, we represent quality, originality of the design, the pride from being made in Italy and also the history of our brand. It’s in our DNA. We are jewellers for 5 generations; we designed our most signature pieces from scratch. We were the innovators of the style (letter bracelets) that became popular in the fine jewelry in the 80’s.

AMOUR Spallanzani Jewels
AMOUR Spallanzani Jewels

Jupilings: What does elegant design mean to you-

GS: An elegant design to me means something that gives you an ‘allure’ but is timeless at the same time.

Stella hoop earring Spallanzani Jewels
Stella hoop earring Spallanzani Jewels

Jupilings: What does luxury mean to you-

GS: Luxury is something that is not for everybody. It is for a niche of clients.

Jupilings: What is the favourite aspect of your business-

GS: Creativity is what I love in my business and originality. We need shoes to walk, we need clothes to go out in, but we don’t need jewelry. Jewelry is a plus that makes you look beautiful, powerful, elegant, bold; it is like a cherry on top of the sundae. It is the “touche d’eclat” that makes you different and unique. I love that part of my business.

Jupilings: What is the hardest part of your business

GS: The hardest part of my business is sometimes what our client see the products but overlook the effort that has been employed through the process of making jewelry, especially in Italy. Nowadays, people see a product and buy a bag or a pair of shoes because of the price and the look, and they don’t care anymore about the quality. The clients want to work on consignment, and this kills the market. Gold has a price and so does good quality diamonds.

Only You - Sigillo ring B Spallanzani Jewels
Only You – Sigillo ring B Spallanzani Jewels

Jupilings: What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have-

GS: I don’t have any routines. I can wake up in the middle of the night and send info of an idea I had while sleeping to my team and when I go into work the next morning (if I don’t do it I will forget it), we brainstorm to create one of a kind pieces. I also decide on a theme, we research for all the info, symbols, icons linked to that idea. Alternatively, I also look at our old designs, and from one single piece, I imagine a full collection.

Stella Bracelet with pearls Spallanzani Jewels
Stella Bracelet with pearls Spallanzani Jewels

Jupilings: Best piece of advice you’ve been given-

GS: The best piece of advice I have been given is for sure: “you are a good seller only when you will be able to sell your pieces”. It is difficult to sell your pieces, your designs as there is always this limit when you don’t know if people will like it or not and worst if the will tell you or not, so I consider it very difficult, but this is something I am working on it.

Jupilings: What’s one branding lesson you’ve learned in your career and ventures-

GS: For our branding, we pride ourselves on our individuality that brings our clients one of a kind, luxurious pieces. As I’ve been handed down this company through my family, I want to represent Spallanzani as not just another jewelry company. To me, Spallanzani is like no other Jewellery House, and we show this pride through our products by using only the best stones, gold and designs.

stella starlight bracelet pink sapphires Spallanzani Jewels
Stella starlight bracelet pink sapphires Spallanzani Jewels

Jupilings: How do you deal with setbacks-

GS: A moto that inspires me is ”When there is a problem there is a solution,” so I do all my superstitious routines and then I try to figure out a solution.

Stella chain earring full diamonds Spallanzani Jewels
Stella chain earring full diamonds Spallanzani Jewels

Jupilings: Who inspires you and why-

GS: Who inspires me? I keep thinking of my mother and grandmother. Beautiful, elegant, classy, active and such a determined women, but also very funny.

Jupilings: What does it mean to be a woman today-

GS: A woman in today world does everything. She works, she manages the family, the kids, the house, she organizes the holidays and also the day to day. For me, women are SUPERWOMAN today. I am impressed every day by all a woman can truly handle.

Jupilings: Which movie you would have liked to be the leading actor-

GS: I would have loved to be the leading actor of so many movies….above all the movies from the 50’s and 60’s. Sabrina, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Vacanze Romane...I love Audrey Hepburn she was so classy, natural elegance… so I think I would have loved to be her in one of her movies, but another movie I keep remembering is Sliding Doors with ‘Gwyneth Paltrow.’ This movie explains very well what I firmly think as another motto of mine: “That what has to happen at the end will happen.”

Jupilings: What is your life motto-

GS:  I do have many mottos, one of my favorites would be: “where there is a problem there is a solution and make it happen.”

Only you "I woke up like this" necklace - Spallanzani Jewels Only you "I woke up like this" necklace - Spallanzani Jewels
Only you “I woke up like this” necklace – Spallanzani Jewels

Luxury Bags for Successful Women – Interview with Julie Cantor, Founder & Chief Executive of Harlen

As a woman, as a leader, as a professional we strive on subjective experiences by pushing onto new boundaries, leveraging our skills and strengths to help others while embracing our femininity. Along the way, we learn to be versatile, organized and pragmatic yet equally with style. We recognize that to be in control; we need unique accessories that support our performance. Other than a smartphone, handbags are one of the essential accessories to flair our convictions, our way of life and our composure.

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LINE | TIBETAN FUR
Screen Shot 2018-06-07 at 3.53.20 PM
LINE | TIBETAN FUR
https://www.instagram.com/harlencollection/
https://www.instagram.com/harlencollection/

Harlen collections, designed out of a need for excellence by the graduate of Stanford University (BA, MA), Berkeley Law (JD), and the Yale University School of Medicine (MD), Julie Cantor, embodies sophistication, independence, and stature. Effortlessly stylish, the collection supports the tale of emancipated woman carrying a load in the twists and turns of her career labyrinth. Cleverly designed, Harlen bags are a perfected evolution rooted in practical and timeless quality, intended to gratify the hard work of powerful women.

Screen Shot 2018-06-07 at 3.53.58 PM
https://harlencollection.com/collection/curve-black

An investment in an amalgamation of simplicity, elegance, tasteful and contemporary style made by the Italian master artisans perfects our desire to do good. For every Harlen you own, the company supports one student in Room to Read’s Girls Education program for one year. A feel-good luxury item that unveils our unassuming libertarian ethos and complies with our standards of quality.

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https://harlencollection.com/collection/arc-taupe
Screen Shot 2018-06-07 at 3.55.34 PM
https://harlencollection.com/collection/arc-taupe
https://www.instagram.com/harlencollection/
https://www.instagram.com/harlencollection/

I had the opportunity to interview the brilliant Julie Cantor to learn about her and Harlen:

Jupilings: How do you describe yourself-

JC: A modern minimalist.  An optimist.  Creative.  Tenacious.  Organized.  Usually wearing black.  An avid fan of art, design, and nearly all things made in Italy.  Advocate for science, integrity, and human rights.  Engaged in the world.  Always striving.

Jupilings: What set you off on your entrepreneurial venture-

JC: I was working at an elite law firm in downtown Los Angeles, and I needed a way to carry my career essentials from home to work, from a meeting to mediation, from day to evening.  The options I found missed the mark.  One wheeled bag was too small, and its handle broke.  A leather tote sagged at the bottom from the weight of my things.  The look was always off, and I could never find my keys.  So I created a few prototypes that reflected my vision of what this perfect work bag would be.  When friends, colleagues, and even strangers were enthusiastic about the pieces and the brand vision, I decided to create a line of “modern career pieces”—designed for the modern professional woman who values quality, needs an accessory with form and function, and wants to move opportunity forward for girls worldwide.  She is a person leading a life of significance with style.

Jupilings: What is the story of your brand name “Harlen”-

JC: The brand is named after my grandparents, Harriet and Lenny.  (I adored them.)  Our brand values of juxtaposing style, savvy, and significance with equality, empowerment, and education can be traced to them.  My grandmother had great personal style—the kind you either have or you don’t.  She had a career.  And she had an endless collection of handbags and shoes.  I can remember clomping around my grandparents’ house as a three-year-old in her heels with one of her handbags draped over my arm.  Very fancy preschooler.

My grandfather was an advocate for girls.  When his two daughters were young, he saw endless organized sports options for boys, but nothing for the girls.  So he started the first girls’ sports league in their town (Levittown, New York).  This was the mid-1950s, long before Title IX, so culturally and socially, he was really swimming upstream.  But he made it happen, and my mom, my aunt, and their friends played softball and basketball in that league.  He also was a firm believer in the power of education and the doors that academic excellence can open.

Their house was designed with lots of blacks and whites and a hint of glamour, which inspired our aesthetic.  Their vintage black, grey, and white couches are in our showroom.

Jupilings: What are the principles in lifestyle that you want to manifest in your brand Harlen-

JC: Modern.  Intelligent.  Design.  Our client needs utility and style, and she understands the quality of pieces made in Italy by second- and third-generation artisans.  She moves the world forward on her terms.  She needs a piece that works in a variety of work environments, and that moves seamlessly from day to night.  She is inspired by the past as well as the possibilities for the future.  She is a mentor and a leader with ambition.  And she is unapologetic about it.

Jupilings: What does refined and simple design mean to you-

JC: Symmetry and clean lines.  Extraordinary materials.  The finest craftsmanship.  Making a statement through style.

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https://harlencollection.com/collection/diag-alligator
Screen Shot 2018-06-07 at 3.55.19 PM
https://harlencollection.com/collection/diag-alligator

Jupilings: What does intelligent and elegant design mean to you-

JC: We thought endlessly about intelligent design and the needs of women as they move through their day and their careers.  An example: Every Harlen closes with a zipper or magnets and a carabiner.  Because things fall out.  Because we deserve privacy.  Because security demands a closure.

We use—exclusively—Raccagni’s Super-R zips.  (In Italy, zippers are “zips.”)  These are, without question, the world’s finest.  I’ve visited the Bergamo facilities, and they hum with a unique blend of technology, creativity, and perfection.  And the Raccagani family lives and breathes zips.  They constantly innovate.  You’d think that after more than 45 years of creating zips that are as exquisite as they are functional that they’d be done.  Not yet.

That kind of intelligent design permeates every aspect of a Harlen.  It’s why we plate our hardware in palladium—it’s stunning, and it is strong.  These are, after all, work bags.  So they are designed to withstand the rigors of daily use and still look as good on day 1,000 as they did on day 1.  We don’t use the kind of leathers that are designed to patina, scratch, and age.  Ours are chosen for beauty and durability.  I like a clean look.

And all of our materials and ateliers follow best environmental practices.  Again, intelligence meeting design to protect our collective future.

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https://harlencollection.com/collection/diag-black
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https://harlencollection.com/collection/diag-black

 

Jupilings: What is the favourite aspect of your business (Harlen)-

JC: Without question, I love seeing how thrilled our clients are to own our pieces.  It’s so gratifying—especially after a decade of work to bring Harlen and its collection to them.  I also love working with our amazing ateliers in Italy.  They are the absolute best in the world at their craft.  It’s like working with the Steven Spielberg of bags, hardware, zippers, plating, lining, leather, and so on.  We are incredibly fortunate to have found these amazing families who also create for the world’s most recognizable and enduring brands.

Jupilings: What is the hardest part of your business (Harlen)-

JC: I think the greatest challenge of any business these days is to have your message rise above the noise.  We are all inundated with information, between your Twitter feed and breaking news and work emails, which can be more like instant messaging than a letter since people expect an instant response.  It’s overwhelming.  And our clients are not 9-5, Monday through Friday people.  They are working.  So the challenge is to engage these incredible people in a meaningful way in a world of constant messaging.

Jupilings: Please tell us about the philanthropic aspect of Harlen-

JC: When a client owns a Harlen, we provide the financial support for one student to participate in Room to Read’s Girls’ Education Program for one full year.  That contribution provides girls with the tools they need to thrive and succeed: mentoring and life skills education, tuition and fees, books and uniforms, and additional resources, like a bike, if needed, to get to school.  It is a significant contribution with a significant impact.

We partnered with Room to Read because it is the leading non-profit for literacy and girls’ education, because it employs evidence-based interventions and continues to collect data on and evaluate its work, and because it works hand-in-hand with communities.  It doesn’t just drop off books and leave.  Quite the opposite.  It is a privilege to work with this organization.  Accolades and recognition from groups like Charity Navigator reinforce its quality.

We support girls’ education because, as Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nicholas Kristof has said, it may not be a silver bullet for fixing the world’s ills, but it’s the closest thing we have to it.  Widely considered to be the world’s best investment, girls’ education and empowerment can end illiteracy, improve health, stabilize societies, curb extremism, boost economies, combat child marriage, foster independence, and advance equality.  Its impact is breathtaking.  It reverberates across societies and throughout generations.  And it alters the trajectory of a life.

And our clients are unbelievably well-educated.  So we move forward the transformative power of education that they’ve experienced—and pay tribute to the countless girls who simply want a chance to learn.

We support other efforts to further education, empowerment, and equality.  For example, we have supported the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles and the Japanese American Bar Association’s Educational Foundation.  And I am always interested in speaking with people and organizations whose values align with our own to pursue partnerships or support them in unique and creative ways.

https://harlencollection.com/philanthropy/
https://harlencollection.com/philanthropy/

Jupilings: What is the commonality between a social change agent as a law professor and a fashion accessory designer who is a culture-based creative –

JC: My work as a litigator and law professor led directly to Harlen.  And both of my roles—professor and entrepreneur—are about curating choices.  In my reproductive rights course, for example, I discuss women’s rights during pregnancy and how to advocate for clients—and yourself—within a system that does not always follow the best scientific evidence.  It’s about finding solutions within systems.  And that’s very Harlen.  I cultivated relationships with the very finest creators in Italy so women could have the best option for their daily career essentials that strives to be as extraordinary as they are.

Jupilings: Best piece of advice you’ve been given-

JC: Keep going.

Jupilings: As a Lecturer in Law, a litigator and female entrepreneur, can you please share five tips to tap into one’s potential to achieve one’s career or entrepreneurial aspirations-

JC:

  • Details matter.  Pay attention to them.
  • Be prepared.  Unless you’re doing improv, winging it isn’t inspiring.
  • Exceed expectations.  Surprise clients and colleagues with excellence, not just adequacy.
  • Develop good judgment and work with people who have it.
  • Be ethical.  And don’t work with people who aren’t.

Jupilings: What’s one branding lesson you’ve learned in your career and ventures-

JC: Develop and follow a style guide.  Consistency is crucial when sharing your vision and voice.

Jupilings: How do you deal with setbacks-

JC: Stay focused on the big picture, reset your goals, and be grateful.  Then keep moving.  In.  Around.  Over.  Through.  Whatever.  Keep moving.

Jupilings: Who inspires you and why-

JC: Fearless women.  And women who face the fear and do it anyway.

Jupilings: What does it mean to be a woman today-

JC: To have more opportunity than ever in human history and still confront a playing field that is far from level.

Jupilings: What is the issue you want media to talk about most-

JC: As a reader and viewer, I would love information at the end of a story or on a website with non-partisan calls to action, so we feel empowered, not just informed, and have the opportunity to take steps to use the information for good.

Jupilings: What is your life motto- 

JC: Forward.  It’s also my license plate.

 

Interview with Beatriz Ramos, Artist and Founder of DADA.nyc

Art a positive influence, art plays a significant role in cultural tolerance, civic engagement, or political movements. It boosts communities’ local economy, connects the newcomers, develops critical thinking and problem solving, or impels corporations to support the collective through investment.

A visual conversation by artists on dada.nyc
A visual conversation by artists on dada.nyc

Since Web 1.0, fostering a more robust economy, cultural inclusions, and reinforcing the understanding among diverse ethnicities and identities have been transformed beyond physical or geographical borders. Fast forward to this day, removal of the global boundaries through blockchain technology has morphed into trusting the strangers by generating and validating smart contracts. A technology that is rooted in transparency and unconstrained collaboration.

Monster Afternoon - A visual conversation by artists on dada.nyc
Monster Afternoon – A visual conversation by artists on dada.nyc

By embracing the blockchain technology’s vast potentialDADA.nyc encourages artistic aspirations, enables the artists to sell their digital artworks, and be compensated in real-time. The underpinning inclination of this social network is to create a collaborative platform for anyone to express their ideas through art and generate financial value for the artist. DADA.nyc’s marketplace is about honoring creativity and establishing the element of scarcity to appreciate the artistic works.

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Dada.nyc Marketplace
Art by Beatriz Ramos on DADA
Art by Beatriz Ramos on DADA

DADA.nyc offers simple tools to push your imagination, ignite your inner passion, initiate partnerships with the artists or the audience, and create MAGIC. The application reveals the art’s provenance, and its cooperative ecosystem bypasses “gatekeepers” & champions fair financial reward for the artist.

Art by Beatriz Ramos DADA
Art by Beatriz Ramos DADA

Here is my exclusive interview with Beatriz Ramos, an artist, entrepreneur, film director, producer, illustrator & founder of DADA.nyc. I would like to thank Judy Mam, Co-founder, and CMO of DADA.nyc and Beatriz Ramos for their time and friendly cooperation for this interview.

Jupilings: Tell us about yourself and how you got into art:

Beatriz Ramos: I was an introverted child and spent a good part of my childhood drawing by myself. I didn’t get into art; I was an artist, and I was lucky that my parents encouraged me to be just that.

Jupilings: What is the outside force that compels you to create, leading to a novel idea?

Beatriz Ramos: It’s actually an inside force, a combination of two things: First, I get bored with trends, anything done too many times becomes derivative and uninteresting. I’m not great with conformity, either. I look for what’s unique and personal. Second, in that quest for my own personal voice, I always approach everything I do from the inside out. I try to understand and articulate my motivations, my needs, my values, my concerns, my skills, what makes me tick. What are the life experiences that inform my point of view about the world? I take the same approach, whether for a project, a team, or an organization. Those insights are the base for all the creative decisions I make.

Jupilings: Do you have a creative pattern, routines, or rituals?

Beatriz Ramos: I enjoy the process regardless of the outcome. I trust that if I had fun and loved the experience, it’ll translate into results. I get bored if I repeat myself, so I push myself out of my comfort zone. I put myself in a place where I have no control. Figuring out how to get out of it is exciting, and the new things I discover are rewarding. Melancholy is the mood where I feel more creative, so I listen to very sad music and drink coffee by the window. I love rainy and snowy days. I collect objects that I find beautiful or interesting: rocks, rusty nails, vintage toys, bones, wood printing press letters, instruments, old keys, etc. They inspire me, and I use them in my work. I embrace limitations, mistakes, imperfection, and happy accidents. Ultimately, being creative is part of who we are. I exercise creativity constantly in everything I do.

Art By Beatriz Ramos on DADA
Art By Beatriz Ramos on DADA

Jupilings: What’s the best advice you ever had about how to be more creative?

Beatriz Ramos: I can’t think of anything that stuck with me.

Jupilings: What is DADA about?

Beatriz Ramos: Dada.nyc is a platform where people speak to each other through drawings and create collaborative art. Anyone can join. For us, anyone can be an artist; there is no good or bad art, it’s all about self-expression and collaboration.

 

Pase Magico : A visual conversation by artists on dada.nyc
Pase Magico : A visual conversation by artists on dada.nyc

Jupilings: How can an artist make money on DADA?

Beatriz Ramos: We are using blockchain technology to create an economy within our community. We are selling limited edition “Rare Digital Art” created on Dada with IP protection and ownership proof. Soon we will issue our own currency, and creators will be able to earn Dada tokens for drawing, curating, and contributing value to the community.

Jupilings: The blockchain technology provides an incentive for the artist to be in charge and gain from their artwork. What about the investors or patrons of the art? What is the motivation for them?

Beatriz Ramos: Value is subjective. We are looking for new ways for people to receive value from our community beyond the price they pay for artwork. For some collectors, it may be being part of the creative process, or connect in meaningful ways with artists they like; for other people, it may be that they are supporting a community with values they share, or simply that when their drawing made them smile when they were having a bad day. We are creating a system of incentives with more to do with receiving a valuable experience than just capital.

Jupilings: How have you decided on the commercial value of the secondary market’s artwork when it is resold by the first owner?

Beatriz Ramos: We don’t. The seller and buyer decide that. In fact, we don’t think the value of the artwork is equal to the price someone pays for it. There may be an incredible piece of art that nobody wants to buy or that can’t be purchased. We did use blockchain to make sure that every time a particular artwork is sold, a percentage of that profit automatically goes to the artist. Our smart contract can track and verify every transaction and send the money to the artist in real-time, without intermediaries.

Jupilings: What role does an artist have in society?

Beatriz Ramos: Creativity is part of human nature, but societies have evolved in a way where only a few can experience the joy and marvel of creation like artists do. As a result, artists are the ones that don’t conform, we think outside of the box, we create beauty, we inspire people, we speak truth to power, we challenge the status quo. At Dada, we believe it is important for anyone to exercise creative self-expression, so our society becomes more diverse, inclusive, and just.

Jupilings: What are your tips about building a brand name as an artist?

Beatriz Ramos: I think the concept of a brand name is toxic. My tip is to avoid falling on that trap at all costs. I believe artists should spend their time experimenting, honing their skills, playing, creating, and figuring out the most difficult thing to achieve as an artist: finding your own voice.

Jupilings: Who are your biggest influences?

Beatriz Ramos: So many influences and very diverse. I can still find a few in my work’s DNA are Van Gogh, the Brothers QuayAbbas Kiarostami.

Jupilings: What does women empowerment mean to you?

Beatriz Ramos: A reminder that we still have to reclaim the fundamental intrinsic right women have to be free and independent of this day and age.

Jupilings: What do you do to conquer fear or self-doubt:

Beatriz Ramos: I rarely feel fear or self-doubt. Perhaps it is about the joy of living and experiencing new things, trusting that the more we do, the more we grow. Embracing failure is part of the process.

Jupilings: What is your life motto?

Beatriz Ramos: To experience life to its fullest.

 

The featured image is Abbas Kiarostami by Beatriz Ramos.
Beatriz Ramos is an artist, entrepreneur, film director, producer, and illustrator. She is the founder of Dancing Diablo Studio in New York and the inventor of Dada.nyc, a visual conversation platform where people speak to each other through drawings. Images courtesy of DADA.nyc.