Have you felt a renewed creative energy around town these days? The very real challenges that we are all facing have seemed to spark a new urgency to collaborate, launch new projects and experiment with new ways to grow our respective brands, arts practices and keep our small businesses afloat.
Here at CPiF we’ve always believed in strength in numbers, As artists and designers, we know how important it is to be surrounded by a community of creative makers and thinkers who challenge and support us. For all of us to grow, we must champion one another along the way.
When we tell the story of how and why we launched CPiF back in 2012, we always start by saying that while our individual practices were growing (Sara as a jewelry designer, Anna as a visual artist), we had yet to find a sense of creative community here in Florence, and we knew we needed it to sustain our work and push us forward. We quickly discovered that we weren’t the only ones.
Over the years we’ve met so many incredibly talented creative people, all of whom echo the idea that we are stronger together. By forming a network, sharing our skills, learning from each other, hiring each other, exchanging contacts, and spreading the word about the quality work we do, we all benefit.
But we can’t do it alone. The highly skilled artisans, craftspeople, artists, designers, performing artists, writers, photographers, musicians (…and more!) that form the CPiF community are also supported by many innovative entrepreneurs and organizations whose respective missions support and promote the arts by encouraging collaboration between artisans and encouraging sustainable, local, shopping for top quality art, fashion and design objects.
We reached out to a few key creative groups, influencers and business owners around town to hear from them about what drives their work and how we can all do our part to support the local art and design community.
Influencers, Explorers and Entrepreneurs Supporting Artisans
While we spent most of lockdown in some combination of pajamas and sweatpants, Barbara Chiucini (@beyond.florence), founder of Beyond Shopping and Lifestyle Experiences, delighted us with her impeccable style, encouraging followers to #shopinyourwardrobe, and make everyday a chance to have fun with fashion. Far from frivolous, her Instagram posts and stories shared personal anecdotes and reflections on the importance of taking care of oneself, staying connected to friends and family, and finding innovative ways to adapt her business to the current reality. Her many years of work in the fashion industry have given her expert knowledge of major luxury and mainstream brands as well as an eye for unique vintage pieces, and most importantly, a passion for discovering Florence’s lesser-known places, creative artisans, and the heritage of craftsmanship in the works of small independent designers, independent boutiques and hidden ateliers. She explains that as a “shopping lover, fashionista, and traveler, with tireless dedication to beauty, authenticity, and uniqueness” she thinks of Beyond Florence as her way “to express a concept of ‘new luxury’ and a ‘new Renaissance’”. In the personalized tours she creates for her clients, Barbara emphasizes that a shopping experience is not only about purchasing unique and exclusive products. As she says,
“It’s about sharing and supporting a whole, local “ world” made by people, places, individual stories: the most sought-after purchase my guests bring back home!”
Camila Cepeda (@omgflorence) is the founder and experience designer behind OMG Florence, which aims to spark a feeling of excitement, curiosity and surprise about the city, which she aptly calls the OMG Florence Effect. Over the years, she has built relationships with local professionals such as private ateliers, factories, restaurateurs, hoteliers, and many more, so that she is able to create authentic, tailor-made and otherwise inaccessible lifestyle experiences for her clients.
One of the things we loved about Camila from the moment we met her was her true passion for collaboration and her desire to create opportunities for local professionals “to join forces where we can implement the great value of collaboration by producing quality material for everyone involved”. She developed one of her latest ventures, the Italian Shopping Safari (@italianshoppingsafari), in collaboration with none other than Barabara Chiucini of Beyond Florence. An immersive itinerary of shopping and exploring all things Made in Italy. We whole-heartedly agree with Camila when she says, “Smart collaborations empower us, make us stronger and happier!”
A long time supporter of the arts, Maria Bengtsson (@florentineexperienceshopping) offers a range of tours and activities through her company Florentine Experience Shopping. As a graphic designer herself, Maria’s eye is always attuned to the style and quality of the artisans she features. Through her work she exposes her clients to both the traditions of fine craftsmanship in Florence as well as the new trends and techniques in boutiques and ateliers around the city. When Maria saw the tourism market rapidly disappear this spring, she quickly launched a new online artisan shopping service for her clients. After a free consultation to understand what a client is looking for, she provides a curated selection of products to meet each request. She also has a wonderful Facebook group called We ♥ Artisan Shopping in Florence, which is a great resource for discovering unique workshops and gifts.
Georgette Jupe Pradier (@girlinflorence), the dynamic voice behind the blog Girl in Florence, has always championed the local arts community in her work. Reflecting on the origins of her much-loved blog and social media presence, she says, “When I started “Girl in Florence” I thought, what is the point of this? Far from being solely a journey of self-reflection and musings (though there’s that too) I thought it would be great to use this platform to talk about all of the things that make our community shine. Caring isn’t just saying so, but it’s the actions we take that can do and mean so much.” She has always used her voice to support the local businesses and creatives that she loves, making it a central part of her mission to “talk about them, write about them, share them. Not just once, but every single day, continuously, and try to be part of any collaboration that shines the light on what makes Florence special”. We could not agree more with her affirmation that “a city cannot live solely on the glorification of the past but instead has to focus on how to keep the community thriving in the present and future.”
Artisans Supporting Artisans
One thing we are sure of at CPiF is that the more we offer each other resources to support our creative practices, the better it is for all of us, no matter what form that takes. A few new projects have recently popped up in Florence that we think you, our creative followers might enjoy. Be sure to check them out, get involved and help spread the word!
The project aims to support craftswomen by sharing their experiences and expertise, networking, organizing events and combining forces to be more visible commercially. By focusing on the presence of women in the field, FAF seeks to encourage women to return to working with their hands and take part in building a new future based on creativity and sustainability for a healthy planet.
All masters of their respective crafts, the women of FAF also emphasize the importance of high standards of quality that respect traditional techniques, but also push their fields forward.
The founding members of FAF are “wood whisperer” Jane Harman, designer and printmaker Giulia Castagnoli of Ink-P, ceramicist Jacqueline Harberink of JHA Porcelain, and accessories designer Ayako Nakamori of AYADesignLab. Bringing ideas and perspectives from different parts of the world, the founders share the core principles of sustainability, recycling, and ethical practices. We absolutely love their motto: Slow design – slow fashion – slow living – story telling.
Creatives Conversations is a new project developed by two creative minds: textile designer and artist Margherita Pandolfini and event designer and fashion and film expert Joanna Granero. This series of gatherings with guests from the creative industries is addressed to all those interested in the arts and anything cultural and creative. Every meeting features a special guest who shares his or her experience and professional journey to ignite conversations and networking opportunities among like-minded people over a glass of wine and aperitivo (and soon to follow, dinners as well!). Each meeting takes place in a different location in and around Florence as a way to introduce new and different places within the city. Stay tuned for news about their next events.
CPiF recently launched a new collaboration called Tiche Synergia (@tichesynergia) with Tijana Stanković, the designer behind the fashion brand Tiche. When she approached us with the idea of dedicating a part of her gorgeous new atelier to local artisans, we were immediately on board. After working for many years in art galleries while developing her brand, Tijana’s aim is to give artisans and designers a space to experiment with new ideas and to re-imagine their materials and tools as art installations.
The Greek goddess of luck and chance, Tiche is also the protector of cities, fortune and destiny, which perhaps holds a new resonance in the changing and often-unpredictable landscape of our current times. Emphasizing the opportunity for growth, experimentation and renewal, the project’s title Tiche Synergia reflects the heart of our aims at CPiF: to spark new ideas and connections between the artisans and designers of the city, and to envision the future of the city as one of innovation and collaboration. After a successful launch with an installation by artisan Jane Harman, we look forward to a packed series of events starting in September.
If you’re a regular follower of CPiF, we’re sure you’ve heard the buzz about the upcoming CPiF App because, well, we can’t stop talking about it! Stay tuned for news about the launch party coming soon, but in the meantime some details about how it works and how to participate.
As some of you may remember, a couple of years ago we created a printed map of Florence highlighting a selection of great artisan workshops to help visitors and locals find unique products that are truly made in Florence. We are now taking this idea one big step further and transforming the map into a mobile app, making it even easier to give users access to top-quality handcrafted products, and to help them #shopsmall and #shoplocal.
The aim of the CPiF App is to offer a curated selection of high quality artisan and design products to those shopping in Florence as well as to those outside the city who wish to shop online. As always, we strive to highlight those artisans and designers in Florence whose work is expertly made with a respect for tradition, but with an eye toward innovative, contemporary design. The App offers users two ways to discover and shop from local designers, either by navigating a city map showing the routes to featured artisans workshops and studios, or by browsing designer profiles and shopping online. In both cases users can filter by category or by specific search terms to quickly find what they are looking for.
The designers and artisans featured in the app are selected for the innovation and quality of their work. All designers featured in the App produce their work locally by hand. If you’d like to learn more about the selection process, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We would love to hear about your creative projects! Get in touch to let us know what you’re working on so we can help spread the word.