As the online platform has become an integral part of any and all industries, it’s fitting that the sphere of skillfully curated art find a place in the e-commerce world as well. And so, Ambra Medda, founder of Design Miami, brings us L’ArcoBaleno, a virtual space devoted to globally sourced collectible design.
Medda gives us insight into her history with design, the importance of supporting emerging talent and L’ArcoBaleno’s dedication to the people, places, and things that shape the design world; both past and present. She also shares with us her favorite online hangouts and goals for L’ArcoBaleno.
TL: We know you have seen tremendous success with Design Miami; how did you get your start in the art world?
AM: I grew up in design. My mother had a gallery where she presented historical work, by important Italian architects and designers, alongside contemporary British talent. I studied Chinese at University and then gravitated to the art world as I thought I would be a Contemporary art dealer. I soon realized that as much as I loved art, I couldn’t quite shake off my interest for design. In 2004, I visited Art Basel Miami Beach, when Sam Keller was the director, and thought there were a lot of interesting parallels and overlap between the world of art and design. I worked hard to understand how to create an interesting platform for the design community. An event that would bring together the best of the industry: from designers involved in panel discussions, to galleries presenting the best design works available in the market, to fun events that would push the envelope forward. A year later, with much help and incredible surrounding enthusiasm, I launched Design Miami. I directed the fair for six years and then was ready for a new adventure…and here I am with L’Arcobaleno!
TL: What made you want to enter into the online space? What is your main goal with L’ArcoBaleno?
AM: The online space felt relevant, of the time and offered so much opportunity! I started LAB because I felt there was no site that presented a well thought out, juxtaposition of great design from around the world that could act as a platform for both emerging and historically significant design. With LAB, we are able to offer our community opportunities to acquire amazing collectible work from Osvaldo Borsani alongside exquisite baskets from Botswana. Moreover, we present fresh, vivid analyses of trends and themes in the market, underscoring the value of the work and helping broaden connoisseurship.
TL: What are the pros and cons of such an endeavor?
AM: Traveling has its pros and cons. I love traveling and meeting people. I adore the hunt and the search for quality and great pieces but I also recognize how taxing traveling so frequently can become.
TL: We love the meaning of the name you have chosen. How did it come to you?
AM: Oliver, my business partner and I felt that we wanted something powerful, uplifting and promising. That pretty much left us with no choice: it had to be a rainbow! The rainbow symbolizes a jolt of energy and something everyone could enjoy. There is no better vision than lifting your eyes to the sky and seeing a rainbow. Lastly, we wanted to use a real word with meaning, as opposed to a made up sound or acronym.
TL: You also have given yourself the added task of including editorial content; why both? Has this proven a challenge?
AM: We couldn’t live without our editorial content. We love and live for everything we write about. In most cases presenting the culture and commerce of design always seems the most interesting, compelling and comprehensive way to explore design. Understanding why this thing was made, or who made it, or how they made it allows for you to really appreciate why it is so special. Under the vision of our Editor in Chief Wava Carpenter, we create the best editorial we can as well as commission stories from freelance writers. We want to present design in it’s entire spectrum! We love seeing things from different points of view.
TL: Do you have a particular aesthetic you stick to when curating?
AM: I tend to just follow my instinct to be honest. I love things that are beautiful or functional or both…there are no rules, it just has to be extraordinary! When I look at something I ask myself will this survive the test of time? will this still feel as relevant and wonderful in 10, 50, 100 years?
TL: What role do each of your committee members play?
AM: Each member contributes in a different way: some give me advice or feedback on the market, others on the visual direction or technology. We wanted the input from an eclectic group of people we could rely on to give us feedback, participate and who wanted to be a part of something new and meaningful. I usually just pick up the phone and ask for advice or get together with them to discuss things or brainstorm. We love our committee. They’re all coming from different worlds and their contribution and point of view is incredibly valuable to us.
TL: Do you make an effort to include new/never before seen artists? How important is this?
AM: Absolutely! In fact untapped quality and fresher work by people who haven’t made it big yet are the most rewarding. Discovering designers is what we get most excited about. Promoting and supporting emerging talent has always been a passion of mine. Whether it’s a young graduate designer or a more seasoned designer who has yet to be recognized, we’re equally thrilled to present them to the world and shine a light on their brilliance.
TL: What are your three favorite online hangouts?
AM: ignant.com, swiss-miss.com, itsnicethat.com
TL: What are your parameters and standards when curating information/content/artists?
AM: We strive to present a rich diversity of feature-length stories about the people, places, and things that shape the design world, both past and present. In collaboration with contributors based around the globe, the L’AB Editorial Team surveys the spectrum of design to foster community, conversation, and connoisseurship. In addition to our interviews with noteworthy designers, makers, dealers and taste-makers, you’ll find investigations into design history, musings on design objects, profiles on design destinations, and reviews of the latest design happenings. The only parameters we have are that the piece or person has to be of quality, interesting and promising. We take particular pride in presenting lesser known emerging talent or uncovered treasures or territory.
TL: What else would you like to see L’AcroBaleno accomplish?
AM: I think we’re going to start to bring the brand to life and stage some fun collaborations and events. We might curate shows in partnership with institutions, galleries and schools or host dinner with some presentation of our content. We’re brainstorming right now so stay tuned!