VENICE DESIGN WEEK CHAPTER 5.2: MEET FEELIN’ VENICE, THE NEW RESILIENCE


Venice Design Week: Meet Feelin’ Venice, a new resilience

The whole team behind Feelin Venice marching in front of San Marco like the famous Beatles album cover Abbey Road
Feelin’ Venice: the team in front of San Marco, Venice

New York Style Guide’s series of articles dedicated to Venice Design Week paused to give space to the fashion weeks and a few other events, but it continues now with the second part of our 5th chapter on the theme “territorial creativity as engine of a conscious tourism”, launched by Venice Design Week. This time we meet the young and dynamic concept Feelin’ Venice, through its founder Mattia Gesiot. 

If you missed the first part of chapter 5, here is the link 

https://newyorkstyleguide.com/venice-design-week-chapter-5-1-meet-pieces-of-venice-a-modern-love-story/

TERRITORIAL CREATIVITY AS ENGINE OF A CONSCIOUS TOURISM

In the latest article we have approached the meaning of territorial creativity as engine of a conscious tourism, but for those who have missed it, let’s try to sum up what the sentence means (and find more on the link above).  

Territorial creativity means the skill to use the resources given by your territory, that is the area where you live, to create something useful, meaningful, worthy, with the purpose to captivate the attention of consumers, and to support the local community. Tourists are an example of visiting consumers.

A conscious tourist is a person who is interested in genuine and authentic products that belong to the territory they are visiting, who wants to find part of the essence of those very places, and who wants to contribute to the well-being of that area.  

The ideal perfect match is when tourists can find genuine products to buy, knowing that they are contributing and supporting the location while avoiding trinkets and junks.

Feelin’ Venice is Mattia Gesiot’s translation of territorial creativity, and I met him on a chili winter afternoon, in one of his shops in Venice, the one in Sestiere Cannaregio, Cannaregio district  Strada Nova 4194 (the other store is in Sestiere San Marco, San Marco District at 3720, Calle Della Mandola).

At first glance it might look like a common craft shop in an Italian city, but Feelin’ Venice is much much more than this. 

The entrance of the shop Feelin Venice
The entrance of the shop Feelin’ Venice in Strada Nova, Cannaregio District, Venice
the shop window of Feelin Venice with a curious customer staring in
Feelin’ Venice: the shop window

Consider that Venice is an open museum, and it is not a city that can afford the luxury of making visible changes. Resilience in Venice is something that is born inside the walls of an eternal city. 

Let’s compare it to Milan, as they have many complementarities: Milan can build skyscrapers and make the transformations evident. Venice can’t interfere as much with its urban restyling, so the changing happens from the inside, you have to get closer to see it.

Milan and Venice share this incredible and powerful strength of resilience, but they express it in different ways. Milan is for the big restyling, Venice is like the Phoenix, the legendary bird that keeps on rising from its ashes.

Feelin’ Venice is a way to interpret Venice’s resilience, in its own peculiar way.

Inside the shop feeling Venice
View of the shop in Strada Nova, picture courtesy of Feelin’ Venice
Details of some products and how they are exposed at Feelin'Venice, the front side of the shop
Details of the products, front side of the shop – Picture courtesy of Feelin’ Venice

Slowly becoming a cult destination, and that is why New York Style Guide decided to pay a visit, Feelin’ Venice is not a common shop: it is selling products with some specific characteristics that are making them viral, and there are more than one reason why. Let’s ask Mattia all about it.

Mattia Gesiot, CEO of Feelin Venice
Mattia Gesiot, Founder of Feelin Venice – Picture courtesy of WDV

FEELIN’ VENICE – THE BEGINNING

Hello Mattia and thanks for meeting me. I would like to start this interview by asking you a little bit about your background. What were you doing before Feelin’ Venice?

Hello to you, my pleasure! Let’s see, professionally, before Feelin’ Venice I moved for work and lived in your hometown, Milan, and then in London, my background is in marketing. I was born in Venice, and I must admit I was missing my hometown. 

Is that the reason that did lead to the birth of Feelin’ Venice?

Part of it, as I really felt something sensitive was missing.

What was it?

Every time I went back visiting my town, I felt I wanted to take something with me, but I could not find anything that worked. 

I am Venetian, so for sure I can’t be interested in a plastic miniature of a Venetian gondola, mass-produced God knows where. I would not even say it’s kitsch, it just makes no real sense. Tourists love our masks, but again, I am Venetian, masks are supposed to be worn during the Venetian Carnival [click here to learn more about Venice’s most celebrated event – ed], why would I want to take one with me to Milan or London? It’s not something I can use everyday.

Then we have the Murano glasses, which are wonderful, but can be expensive, must be handled with care, maybe not suitable for a 20+ worker who’s traveling the world. We Venetians love Murano Glasses, but just because they are so delicate, maybe they are better suited when you have more patient than a young traveler.

I was missing something affordable and authentic that spoke to people like me. I wanted something of Venice that I could carry with me, that I could afford, that could make me feel home.

And that is how your Feelin’ Venice is born?

Feelin’ Venice is an idea that found me when I was living in London: as said, I felt sorry I could not find anything that I could carry with me that spoke about my town, or that I wanted to give to my British friends and colleagues. 

London, as every touristic city, has a lot of different gadgets and souvenirs that you can find of very good as much as of very doubtful quality. In the range of good products, there were many that were affordable and had a lot of aspects that made them appealing. I wanted something similar for my city, which undoubtedly is a world-class touristic destination.

Even if it was mainly my idea, I do not take all the credit: we are a team that made it all possible. It is me, Elena Segato, who is responsible for the shops ,and Filippo Soffrizzi, our main artist, who sat together and brainstormed on how to give Venice something it did not have, and how to make it very Venetian.

In 2017 Feelin’ Venice is born.

How would you describe it for our readers?

Feelin’ Venice starts as a project that aims to create original design-led products. These products are: t-shirts, shopper bags, prints, posters, and eventually jewels, and they are all created by young Venetian artists (Venetian by birth or by choice) to celebrate and promote our city as we see it. 

Feelin’ Venice is contemporary art, and has in its purposes not only to create objects that we Venetians would love to wear and use: it also wants to give the opportunity to young local artists, to stay in the city, make a living with their art, and express their affection and creativity on our products, giving us something unique, while we contribute to the survival of something that is part of this city’s DNA: its incredibly artistic soul.  

After all, if you look at our door, you will see one of our mottos: “in art we trust”.

Filippo was our first official creator, but quickly young artists showed up with new ideas, and now we have a team of partnering designers, all between 23 and 26 years old, graduating from Venetian universities and academies.

Initially we opened a shop where it seemed clever and affordable, not far from San Marco square, until we were allowed to expand and place our flagship store, the one we are now, which is in a very good location, a commercial street with a fairly good traffic, even now, despite the Covid related restrictions.

Strada Nova when we visited the shop Feelin Venice as it looked like during the pandemic, still with people visiting
Strada Nova when we visited the shop Feelin Venice, late January 2021

Through a partnership with Venetian publishing house Lineadacqua® we opened in Calle Della Mandola too. 

Happily, Venetians embraced our projects, and people who live here in the city started buying and using our products, that together with the contribution of tourists who finally found a place with affordable products that were original and authentic, allowed us to carve our spaces also in renewed Venetian cultural spots, such as Museo Correr and Scuola San Rocco.

How does it feel, to see not just tourists, but also locals appreciating your products?

It’s a very flattering sensation, to see people from your hometown and the cities around like Treviso and Padova, rewarding you for an idea you felt was missing. I wanted to have something that looked like me, for the younger generations, and I eventually found out there were more Venetians who felt the same.

This enthusiasm about Feelin’ Venice caught the attention of both Lonely Planet® and Le Routard® who recommended the shop for gift shopping.

Today Feein’ Venice is a concept shop that hosts also other creative businesses who share our ideas and values. I know you met the people behind Pieces of Venice before you met me, and customers can find Pieces of Venice on our shelves too. 

We try to celebrate a modern and contemporary view of the city, and welcome artists and creatives who give a true image of it.

We are humbled by the affection and the support, the fact that our community did not treat us as a souvenir shop, elevated our status. That is also why one of our mottos is “don’t call it souvenir”.

FEELIN’ VENICE: THE PRODUCTS

Collection of products created with a collage

This is such a great story, Mattia, and congratulations are never enough. Now, you do things that you would love to wear and use, and Venice rewarded you. Can we look closely at your products?

Thank you, kindly. Sure, what would you like to know? I can start by saying that you can find the same design on different products, but what would you like to know?

Let’s start with your t-shirts: Which is your first design, and which are the t-shirts that sell the most?

I can show you here in the shop the re-edited version of our first design, “Melting Pot”, which is a design by our Filippo. It is a tribute to different cultures and people that have been connected to Venice and contributed into making of it the city it is today.

Four prints as exhibited in the shop Feelin Venice
Print as exhibited in the shop Feelin’ Venice
Melting Pot t-shirt print on black cotton
Picture courtesy of Feelin’ Venice

All our designs, by the way, are designed in Venice and printed in Italy on cotton. Depending on the prints it can be 100% cotton or 90% cotton and 10% other materials that relate to the print.

Filippo has developed our first designs, he’s our art director, another of our early works by Filippo that has been re-edited and is still very popular is “Venice’s hands”.

VENICE DESIGN WEEK CHAPTER 5.2: MEET FEELIN’ VENICE, THE NEW RESILIENCE 14
Picture courtesy of Feelin’ Venice

Back to your question, as to which is the most sold t-shirt, it depends on what we are talking about. Feelin’ Venice has its own e-shop, of course, where you can find all of our products. So we have some t-shirts that sell more on the internet, and some t-shirts that sell more in the shops.

The design that sells best on the internet is the “Campanile” design. It depicts a summer night in Venice, with a full moon the canal and a gondola passing by. It is a romantic design, and have some silver elements that glitter. This was created  by designer Manuel Minto. This is 90% cotton.

The t-shirt Campanile on white cotton
Picture courtesy of Feelin’ Venice
Girl wearing Campanile print on a black t-shirt
Picture courtesy of Feelin’ Venice

Finally, the most sold t-shirt in the physical shops, is the “Gondoliere“, from the 2019 collection, and is by designer Alberto Franco.

Gondoliere print on grey cotton
Picture courtesy of Feelin’ Venice
Gonodliere worn in front of the seaside in Venice
Picture courtesy of Feelin’ Venice

As said, many of Feelin’ Venice’s prints appear on different products, so if I ask you which is the design that sells best overall, what would you say?

Not having the numbers from other boutiques I can’t answer to this question, but I can for sure tell you that one of the rising stars is the “Cat And Venice”, also by Manuel Minto.

The special thing about this design is that it is very representative of the city. Cats are very common on our streets. It is not feral cats only, there are a lot of pets walking free on our “calli”, since there is no car traffic in Venice, and hence it is safe to wander around. They feel at ease and are definitely part of the city.

Detail of the Cat and fish print that shows the map of Venice as a fish in a bowl
Detail of the Cat and fish print that shows the map of Venice as a fish in a bowl

A detail of this bag is that the cat is chasing a fish in a bowl, but if you look closer, you will realise that the fish is the stylisation of the map of Venice, which, in fact, has quite a fish-like shape. This one is particularly popular on our shopper bags.

The Cat and Fish shopper bag
Picture courtesy of Feelin’ Venice

Can we give a look at some more designs? Actually, I would really love to explore the stand with the prints, if you please.

Detail of the shelf with the prints inside feelin Venice, where it says "pick your favorite"

Sure, which ones would you like to talk about?

I am curious about this seafood set: can you tell me something about them?

Three prints with seafood
Picture courtesy of Feelin’ Venice

I am happy you asked about them. These are works from our latest entry, Laa Suee, and these are Venetian recipes. Let’s look from left to right:

  • sarde in saor: the print with the three fishes refers to a traditional recipe invented by sailors to preserve fried fish. It’s deep-fried sardines left to marinate with onions, pine nuts, and sultanas in a sweetened vinegar solution – “saor” means “taste” in Venetian.
  • spaghetti al nero di seppia: the one in the middle, with the very big sepia holding the fork, is the well know squid ink spaghetti. This is a widespread dish all over Italy, but it’s very typical in Venice.
  • granseola: granseola means crab, and that’s exactly what’s on this print. As the spaghetti dish, this is widely Italian, but typically Venetian. After all, it’s a city on water, seafood is regular food here

And how about this frame?

Art Print "Venice Submarine"
Picture courtesy of Feelin’ Venice

“Venice submarine”. This one is by Marcello Della Puppa, and it is very creative: Marcello is also one of the latest artists to join our team, and in this picture he puts together the well known high tide in Venice, with a submarine, to create a surreal and vintage feeling.

Since we are looking at the prints, I would like to add that they are all 100% recycled paper printed in Italy, and they come with a self-standing packaging. Of course it’s removable, and if you want to put the print in your favorite frame, it works. Size is 21x30cm (circa 8x11inches).

Thanks Mattia, I think we have covered many lovely designs and prints for our readers. I truly appreciate your patience.

You bet, happy to show what we have in store for your readers.  Actually, I’d really love to have your opinion too, if you please. Every person that visits the shop, connects to some specific design for personal reasons. Everyone has a print that speaks to them. Is there one that you’d select? I’d be curious to know what -you- think too.

How precious! Thanks: ok, if I had to pick one design, I think my favorite one would definitely be the “In Spritz We Trust”. Spritz is a very common drink, typical of Northern Italy, and not only, we all have our favourite Prosecco mixing: here in Venice you mix it with Select, generally it is well known with Aperol, and we in Milan we like to mix it with our Campari. I think this is a very Italian choice, I’d proudly use gadgets with this design in Milan. And it has also good humor, so I’d chose it for friends too, they’d love it. Especially the shopper bag.

Detail of the print "in spritz we trust" on the shopper bag

Ah, great choice and you are right, this is a truly big seller: unfortunately it is temporarily unavailable on the e-shop, at least as we speak, but it is available in our shops. “In spritz we trust” is yet another work by one of our latest admissions, illustrator Federico Artuso. 

Of course, we consider Spritz a Venetian drink, but as you say, it connects to many other cities, even if Prosecco, the wine that you must use to make a Spritz, the real Prosecco, that is from Veneto, and from Veneto only, our region. Otherwise, it is not really a Spritz.

Of course! I think on this everyone in Italy would back you up! And it also gave us the opportunity to chat about Italian habits. Now let’s make way for your latest entry: Josa.

FEELIN’ VENICE: THE JOSA PROJECT

So, let’s get to your latest product: would you tell our readers what Josa is?

It is our latest project and our latest product. During 2020 we were worried about the situation, but we did not want to loose faith in Feelin’ Venice. The e-shop was a good support, and while we had to deal with the pandemic, we had the opportunity to get in touch with a newly graduated student from the IUAV University of Venice, Marco Rumor.

We developed the idea of a new jewellery brand, Josa. The name is inspired by the Venetian dialect, a Gioza/Josa, is a Drop in English [and a goccia in Italian -ed]. That’s because water is Venice’s natural element.

The collection right now is a serie of bracelets that have the shape of a drop, on which we engraved three iconic symbols of the city: Palazzo Ducale, our Gondolas and Rialto Bridge.

The three josa bracelet on the arm of a model showing the three colors and the three designs
Picture courtesy of Feelin’ Venice

We started a crowdfunding that made the first production possible. In a very short time we were able to sell 300 bracelets to 15 countries. Every bracelet is waterproof and cords are water-resistant. 

There are four options:

  • 100% pure silver,
  • plated in rose gold 18K,
  • Gold 18K,
  • and Ruthenium. 
The josa bracelets as it appear in the shop Feelin Venice
The Josa as displayed in the shop: this is the drop with the Ducale symbol

All bracelets are nickel free, colours don’t fade, they are fully adjustable, and fit most wrist size.

We worked a lot on the whole concept, even the packaging. Each bracelet is wrapped around a wooden holder placed in a folded box-shaped glue-less black case.

FEELIN VENICE: JOSA. THE COMMITMENT

Last question, Mattia, and then we will set you free: the frightening reaction to the pandemic last year became a moment for rethinking and acting for many of us. How this translates in your business?

We at Feelin’ Venice feel that commitment is important, and we always have to give back. Josa is not only a bracelet that celebrates Venice. We decided to use it in order to give our help to a city that we consider among the most beautiful in the world.

In 2019 Venice was badly affected by an unexpected and exceptional High Tide, that left a lot of damages which still need attention and money for restoration. Our first thought was to find an organisation that acts in support of the survival of our the city. We decided to devolve part of our proceeds to Save Venice’s Immediate Response Fund. 

Save Venice is an American non-profit organisation that acts for the preservation of the artistic heritage of my hometown since 1971. They work incessantly to protect, preserve, and promote the art and culture of Venice. It’s a leading organisation that has funded more than 550 projects.

Venetians are grateful for these generous acts of love and we are proud and humbled to ally with Save Venice, as a start-up. We are always willing to join forces in the incredible effort to protect our treasures.

That’s a beautiful wrap-up, thanks Mattia for giving us so much of your time!

Thank you for reaching out and thanks to your readers too for taking the time to learn about our start-up. We are eagerly waiting to welcoming them in our shops during their next visits to Venice.

If you want to learn more about the Josa project, check the video below

 

New York Style guide extends a huge thank you for the hospitality and the support to Mattia Gesiot and Filippo Soffrizzi of Feelin’Venice. 

 

Useful links:

Feelin’ Venice website: https://feelinvenice.com

Feelin’ Venice on Instagram: @feelinvenice

Josalab Project website:https://josalab.com

Joaslab on Instagram: @josalab

Our previous articles about Venice Design Week can be found at the following links

Venice Design Week Chapter 1

Venice Design Week Chapter 2

Venice Design Week Chapter 3

Venice Design Week Chapter 4

Venice Design Week Chapter 5.1

 

 

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