Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am an Italian expat currently living in Berlin, Germany. I’ve lived here since 2007, and I’m still loving it a lot (I consider myself a curious person, and because of this I have moved many times in my life). I knew early on that I would never be able to put up with some boring regular job, so after graduating in museum studies, I decided to try and make a living with my own projects.
As a child, one of my favorite things to do was rummaging through my grandma’s attic — I’ve always been fascinated by objects that had been abandoned by other people. After many years of collecting as a personal passion, I decided to open Go Go Berlinette, a shop specializing in West German pottery from the 1950s-1970s and other quirky finds. I am particularly attracted by bold colors and patterns. What you see in my shop mirrors my taste. I follow my instinct when buying, and I think that Go Go Berlinette is a place for people who love to be surrounded by interesting objects with a story.
Apart from collecting and curating, what do you do?
Right now, most of my energies are focused on the vintage shop, but for the past nine years I’ve been working freelance on my handmade project, Ninon. I sew bags and little accessories under this name. My passion for collecting fabrics joined to my passion for drawing little creatures brought about “Les Monstris” – hundreds of whimsical, one-of-a-kind soft characters made out of colorful vintage fabrics that went around the world through Etsy, craft fairs and exhibitions.
My creative process needs a lot of time and freedom, and it’s not always easy to find the right mood. I am trying to find a balance between a part-time job, collecting and researching the items for Go Go Berlinette. I still have many Ninon-related projects in my head and I am curious to see how this pause I am taking from them will affect the next collection of soft sculptures.
What would be the title of your memoir?
Something like Memories of a Hoarder. Ah, just kidding. I haven’t reached that phase yet, but the act of layering objects through time has had an definite impact on my nature. Since I’ve moved many times in my life, I have dozens of cardboard boxes packed with belongings that no longer find a place in my daily life but that I find very difficult to part with.
Do you have any personal collections?
Apart from some West German vases that I keep for myself, my current ongoing collections are of hamabeads patterned trivets, rug beaters from around the world, folk textiles, kilims and vintage stuffed toys. I’ve always been particularly attracted to bold patterns and complicated textures, so I am drawn to items that are different expressions of this. I just love looking at these everyday objects and wondering about the craftsmanship that brought them to life.
What decade or style inspires you?
The 1950s and 1960s. I often feel that most of the average things that surround us today are ugly and bad quality, and I am not saying this just because I am a nostalgic person.
What are the challenges of finding great vintage?
I am lucky enough to live in a city like Berlin, which has such an interesting and dramatic history. This city is constantly changing, and so is its population. There are many different sources for vintage objects, from weekend flea markets to thrift shops. One has to develop her/his own net of information, and it takes time, knowledge and patience. Berlin’s popularity has grown so much that it’s getting more and more difficult to find good pieces – especially when it comes to West German pottery.
I tend to leave the most beaten tracks to tourists, and instead adventure in the suburbs. I don’t have a car, so all my finds get carried home in my rucksack or my “granny trolley,” using public transportation. It can be a demanding job sometimes, but the excitement of finding gems pays off!
What’s the most interesting backstory of an object you’ve acquired?
One of the most interesting objects I’ve found is a photo album of a German boy named Ralf, following his first steps in 1938 up to his teenage years. Unfortunately, I don’t know the story behind it, but there is so much history to be learned just by flipping through the pages and peeking into the daily life of an average family during the Third Reich. The normality of it all is what strikes me the most, and I can find some interesting details every time I look through it.
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
Japanese-American artist Ruth Asawa. She had an in-home studio in San Francisco and raised her six children while keeping on with her art. I can only imagine the patience and pain it takes to crochet those beautifully shaped organic structures, and I am very fascinated by artists who use common materials in new ways. I like the idea of members of the family helping her out and growing up surrounded by the objects she created, in such a way that art became one with their daily life.
Was there an object that was particularly hard for you to give up? If so, why?
I enjoy the moment of finding so much that in many cases it is more interesting than actually owning a particular object.
What fascinates me about a vintage object is that, in most cases, it’s unique, and you never know if you’ll see that same piece ever again. Like handmade things, it’s the opposite of mass production and that’s what makes it precious. Choosing what to list in the shop and what to keep for myself can be sometimes difficult, but I want my shop to look great and be filled with treasures, so there is a little price to pay for getting that!
How do you get out of your creative ruts?
I usually need a blank slate. This can come in many forms – like buying some new fabric or taking a stroll around a neighborhood I’ve never been to before. Trying something new gives me the time and space I need to step back, allowing ideas to start rolling in again almost effortlessly.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
It’s not very often in my life that I’m focused on the present like I am today, so I am trying to get the best out of it at the moment. This makes it difficult to think about me in ten years. I am 34, and I have the feeling that the next decade will be crucial for my definition of adultness. I do hope I will still have a job that I love passionately – I feel that this influences all the other aspects of my persona.