Meet the Maker: Valentina Guidi Ottobri, Curator at LuisaViaroma, Florence
Like the food currently being served on its top level by Floret Bar, LuisaViaroma has organic roots – it’s a family business, founded in 1930 by Luisa Jaquin on Via Roma, Florence. She was later joined by her husband, and the concept store is currently being run by their grandson. Luxury is baked into LuisaViaRoma’s DNA – it was the first shop in Europe to stock Kenzo. But fashion isn’t all they care about: the store was recently renovated, and the plans follow an eco-conscious design. Maison Flâneur meets with Valentina Guidi Ottobri, project manager of the Home division of LVR to discuss food, fashion and Florence.
Can you tell us about the story behind LuisaViaRoma?
LVR began as a small hat boutique founded in 1930 by Luisa Jaquin on Via Roma. A few years later and as the shop extended it’s range to clothing that their grandson, Andrea Panconesi, their visual merchandiser, met Japanese designer Kenzo Takada on a trip in Paris. LVR became the first shop in Europe to carry Kenzo! The rest is history. The online shop launched in the early 2000s, first for exclusive clients and then globally in 2004.
Has LVR always had a strong bound with design?
We have collaborated with multiple designers, including the genius Piero Fornasetti. The real turning point in terms of design was when, five years ago. At the beginning, it was challenging to gain trust from historic companies such as Flos, Artemide, Baleri, Driade or Cassina. I had to explain my ideas which to others seemed impossible. On our site, we only had shoes, bags, and clothes. But that was precisely what I had envisioned: a place of exchange and cross-pollination. Once we included leading brands of the design sector, we focused on unique collaborations.
How do you go about the selection of products on the website?
The curated selections in the home department are a mix of iconic brands and archive pieces. We feature select brands we’ve researched with a medium-low price point, capsule collections created exclusively for LVR in collaboration with designers, and furniture from luxury clothing brands such as Etro, Missoni, or Versace.
How did you think about your retail space?
The retail world has changed a lot. I’ve recently read in the New York Times: “I think that physical shops should become more and more engaging and emotional, whereas sales are made online.” I completely agree with that.
Was Patricia Urquiola an obvious choice for the design of “La Terrazza”?
I personally chose Patricia Urquiola. Our goal was to transform the space into a relaxing and pacific oasis in which you could recenter. She was perfect for the projects: Everything from the color pallets to the materials was chosen with the utmost care.
It seems that LVR was always very thinking forward in terms of branded collaboration, rethinking retail experience or online shopping… Where do you think it takes this impulse from?
The ideas of Andrea Panconesi are always inspired by young people and what drives them.
At home, what is your type of interior?
I am really into brutalism architecture.
If you had to pick one piece from the Floret bar?
I like their extensive research on materials: terracotta, plants, wood, and marble.
Via Andrea del Verrocchio, 5R
The Cappella dei Principi inside of the Medici Chapel
Piazza di Madonna degli Aldobrandini, 6
For the Exhibitions
Piazza degli Strozzi
The Santo Spirito market
Piazza Santo Spirito
Via Santa Monaca, 7
The most beautiful experience to try is Pampaloni, where you pass through the silver factory to reach the restaurant.
Via del Gelsomino 99