Let me tell you about one of my favourite stores in Milan..Let me tell you how much I love when a store has it's own unique and charming character, born out of true passion, that is so hard to create even with the best crew of designers. I feel like giving a big hug to someone who created this place! Ready? So let me take you on a super brief tour around..
The shop Cavalli&Nastri opened in 1970 and is now located in three points in Milan, the one you can see in the pictures is tucked away in one of the sleepy streets - Via Giacomo Mora, just around the corner from the hustle and bustle of Via Torino. Although I am not a big vintage collector myself I always treat myself to a weekly tour just to have a sneak peek inside..
even the floor is cute !
I was really curious were do they get all these treasures from..it seems to be pretty simple.. If you have a unique and well maintained vintage piece you would like to sell, it might find it's new home here..
The perfect work space found! And the most cute little patio, blossoming with flowers, a refuge to catch some fresh air or have a smoke not to confuse with smog!
And in the center, looking from above The QUEEN Marilyn on her deserved place!
I can hear "diamonds are a girls best friend" somewhere in the back..
Have a nice day!
I would like to introduce to you ½ part of the creative duo that stands behind the Milanese born Atelier VM which designs one of the most breathtaking jewelry I have ever seen.
I was super excited to meet in person the designer Viola Naj Oleari, which I found to be super kind and charming, to have a sneak peek into their little paradise, listening to the history of their success born out of true passion, unbelievable creativity, and.. a lot of hard work.
Enough from me.. listen to her inspiring story!
Translated into english..
How did it all begin..
In 1998, 15 years ago we started little by chance because we were two young girls barely twenty years old. By that time I was studying industrial design at Istituo Europeo di Design in Milan whilst my partner Marta Cafarelli was pursuing her studies in Paris in the meanwhile gathering experience as an assistant in a jewelry atelier.
Let’s say that since a small kid I shared a particular ongoing passion for jewelry..
a kind of passion you feel born with it..
During my high school years, I kept this passion and when I met Marta we started creating little things together.. small pieces made of wax.. really small.
But then we decided to do something really BIG!; we decided to open a company something quit uncommon for someone only 20 years old.
We invested the little money we had and it really structured us, it was like an early marriage, it gave us a strong boost to start with.
In the meantime we began moving forward, at the beginning we started organizing small sales in our houses, to which we invited friends, friends of our mothers in general people we knew..
We were 24 years old and little by little we started feeling more confident so we decided to open our first beautiful little studio in a very nice space in Milan – in Sant’Eustorgio, where we made our very first serious inauguration. Luckily it turned out to be a huge success, which brought us the attention of the press and opened many new opportunities.
Our jewelry suddenly started to appear in fashion magazines, and we began designing particular pieces we hadn’t done before.
Moving continuously in that direction we started collaborating with different fashion brands such as Missoni, Blumarine and many others..
In the meantime we were given a great opportunity to design our very first collection of jewelry for.. Barney’s New York! This naturally gave us an unbelievable boost of new possibilities and energy, giving the opportunity to once again invest in gold, keeping us confident, and allowing us to strongly believe in what we are doing by helping us move ahead.
After a few years of holding on to our small studio we decided that it was time for the next step so we opened our very first shop in a quite little piazza not far away from here.
We stayed there for 5 years playing around and learning how things work.. it seemed really like a play at first.
Meanwhile, twice a year we would attend the Premier Classe trade shows in Paris,
*[ 350 accessory brands exhibiting in the tents of Jardin des Tuileries ] continuously networking and searching for new contacts, press, at the same time presenting ourselves to other designers.
The Atelier now..
In September it will be six years since we decided to move our shop to our current address which is Via C. Correnti 26.. It seemed to us like the perfect choice being located much more near the center making us more visible to the public eye. It had been another step forward.. for the first time we started to do things a little more seriously in the sense that the store could become much more widely recognized.
The interior design and all the furniture is completely our idea.. designed by us in cooperation with local Italian carpenters..
Girl power/ the team..
I’m the one in charge of designing the jewellery, Marta Cafarelli is focused mainly on the administrative aspect but at the same time continues to be a strong force behind the creative process, Keiko is our unbelievably talented Japanese goldsmith and assitant at the same time, and last but not least the charming Kuka from Spain, which takes care of our online shop.
So as you can see we are a team of girls!
Apart from that we have our trusted stonecutters that have been working with us since the very beginning..
I have to be honest with you.. it simply happens.. I don’t know..
Of course behind every piece there is a thought, there is an inspiration, there is a desire, there is an understanding of being a woman. I observe women on the streets, on the tram..
I look at you.. I listen to the stories.. I don’t need much to feel inspired..
Then there is the material, you find these beautiful stones that speak for themselves; you listen intuitively to the message they are giving you, respecting the material trying to embrace it’s beauty incrusting it with gold, emphasizing it’s characteristics.. and then there is the vision of the contemporary.. being careful about what’s going on politically, socially, where are we going, and where are other countries going.. so it’s not only related to fashion.. of course it derives from fashion but it’s a completely different story.. much more intimate.. much more strong..
For example these thin gold rings - le fedine.. that we usually advise our clients to take in various quantities.. according to us are the pre-eminence of our essential.. once a woman puts them on it’s difficult to take them away..
It remains on her hand for years while she matures, changes, travels.. we have been making them since 6 years and we know women that completely agree with us. so this is something truly beautiful. .it’s more than just a ring.. it becomes something very intimate..
Evolution of style..
Of course as time passes our style evolves in some way.. it changes with our knowledge.. with our creativity.. with the situation happening around us..
For example when we where much younger we designed these earrings.. it was in 2003 the moment of a strong economical crisis.. and so we invented jewelry made of a very cheap material – laminated paper.. it turned out to be a hit.. we sold a lot of them, getting a lot of publicity.. it was something very economical. .very suitable for that time..
On the contrary this year we decided to make something much more precious, a ring called “Queen” incrusted with diamonds and rubies..
Our most recent work is this bracelet - a simple elestic band with a thin line of gold in the middle..
I believe our style comes in part from my own intimacy but also from everything that surrounds me.. from the demands of our clients.. from the little requests and needs that we listen too and hope to answer..
Necklace “Bon Voyage” – two crystals.. one piece remains still the other “travels” along the golden chain.. it seems like nothing.. but at that moment I had the need of articulating this concept.. and so this jewel was born..
Golden bracelet with the sign “Tota Pulchra” engraved.. which in Latin means “You are completely beautiful”, one of the ways in which Virgin Mary is called..
It was during the holidays.. of course vacation is one of the most creative moments where you can gather inspiration feeling completely free and open minded. .I walked into a church and saw the sign “Tota Pulchra” written on one of the walls.. then I remembered my Latin classes from high school and realized what it meant.. so I thought it to be a great tribute to my high school education (laugh) and to Virgin Mary.. a tribute to feminine beauty of all women..
Atelier in the future..
This year we launched our first franchising in Paris in Saint Germain.. held by a very talented girl named Marine.
The shop is called Atelier VM La Boite it’s in 12 rue de l'Echaude – and is almost identical with our shop here in Milan. Similar dimensions, interior design and furniture all designed by us.
We are thinking of opening another shop in London, and we hope to conquer New York in the future. ( At this point a very big smile appeared on Viola’s face:)
We would like to keep moving forward.. i think we will..
Check out their site here Atelier VM