Back in July when I visited Florence, I encountered the most beautiful paper store. Granted, there are many paper stores throughout Italy. Sometimes you get the feeling that once you've seen one you've seem them all, but I assure you that Atelier Giannini & Kuwata has a different feeling. From the display, to the products, to the amazing hospitality of the owners, I felt like I wanted to come back everyday (which I did). In general I have a weakness for paper , so I just couldn't help myself this time, especially since Lapo and Michiko are so knowledgeable and willing to share that knowledge with anyone that happens to be interested. I'm still in awe of their work, their beautiful store and their expertise on the subject of paper and bookbinding. To have been able to see not only the work that they sell but their more personal work meant the world to me, and I'm very grateful for that. So here is a look into their store and their amazing work!
The marbled paper shown above is produced by Laura Berretti at Marbled Arts.
1. First Crafty Memory?
Lapo: Preparing the leather for the notebooks when I was around 20. That is when my passion for
this work started.
Michiko: Doing origami always. When the other kids were playing outside I always remember
2. Favorite thing you've made until now?
L: My first artistic bookbinding. (see picture above - Ballads of Songs and Love)
M: I'm most proud of the work I did when I worked restoring books and art because I think that in a
small way I have made them last longer.
3. Favorite material to work with?
L: Leather. Always.
M: I love working with paper, also cloth/fabrics. I like embroidering. (See the beautiful embroidered
box she made above).
4. Inspiring words you go back to or think often?
L: It has to be my grandfather's words "La via nuova tenendo d'occhio quella vecchia." It means
something like "Always taking the new road, but never forgetting where you came from or how
things were done before you". As a crafter it is important to bring new things to your work, but never
forgetting what was taught to you, taking tradition in consideration .
M: To me it is not so much words but the life my grandfather lead. He travelled to Europe and when
he came back he had albums and books that I remember being fascinated with, looking at his old
pictures still inspire me.
5. Favorite color?
Both: Rosso amaranto. They painted the store's woodwork in that color. (View pictures to get a better idea).
6. Where do you find your inspiration?
L: Inspiration for me comes from all parts. Even family can inspire me to do things in a different
way, for example I made a box to cover the not so very nice tissue paper box!
M: As an art historian I always find art to be the most inspiring.
7. Tea or coffee?
M: Caffe Latte with brown sugar
8. Mountains or beach?
Both answered rather quickly that they prefered mountains.
9. What do you collect?
L: Dylan Dog books, but I have these because I like reading them, they relax me.
M: I collect art books. I have many Shakespeare books. I also love the tools for bookbinding.
* I got a sense that they not only love books because it is part of their job, but also because they are fascinated with them. Whenever I wouldn't understand something Michiko would pull a book from the back of the store to clarify things.
10. What haven't you done in craft terms that you would like to do?
L: Objects of quality and luxury, like trunks for traveling. Items of big dimension.
M: I would love to make a luxurious artistic bookbinding, extremely precious and decorated in the
Art Nouveau or Jean Grolier style using goatskin, velvet, silk, many sheets of gold, and marbled
paper from Michel Duval.
It was truly a pleasure to meet Lapo and Michiko and I wish them all the best in their store, and hope that they get to make those items that they haven't made yet! I'm certain that they will be as beautiful as they sound!
Atelier Giannini & Kuwata is located at Borgo San Frediano 133r in Florence, Italy.
It is open from Monday until Saturday, 10:30-13:00 / 14:00-19:00.
They can also be found showing their work at Galleria del artigianato di Firenze.