I've always been a creative director, even before I started my own namesake brand, and I’ve always struggled to distinguish between my work and my life: I’ve had the incredible luck of having a job that blurred the line between work and life, for me, every single day. Meeting new people – and very often it’s happenstance – is the basis of what I do. Trying to imagine new things, to create something beautiful – that's my job description, but it's also the reflection of my life.
That’s exactly the same dynamic – the same tension – behind the Massimo Alba stores: I do not see them differently than I see my home. I opened my first store in Milan, my city, 8 via Brera: back then it wasn’t yet Milan’s “design district” but an old street lined with art galleries, between the Scala opera house and the Accademia di Brera.
The second store, in Rome, is in the Palazzo Lancellotti, 203 via Coronari: one of the most beautiful 17th century palaces in the city with the most beautiful palaces in the world. The impossibly high-ceilinged rooms with frescoes by Guercino.Then, there are the new stores: the one in Sestri Levante, 17 via XX Settembre, the one with the huge, slightly threadbare vintage carpet I dyed a deep shade of indigo blue, just like the sea of the Cinque Terre; the torn, yellowed pages of an old English nautical magazine, The Rudder, as wallpaper.
The one in Bellagio, 16 Salita Antonio Mella: an iron gate, wooden chairs out the door, of all my stores this is the one that makes me feel the most at home. An opened birdcage that houses a parrot – an old doll – that makes passersby stop and stare, and smile.
Finally, the one in Taormina, at the Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo, 59 via del Teatro Greco: a special store in a special hotel, only a few steps from the magic of an ancient theater overlooking the sea. A small store where the great antique marble fireplace is the center of everything, with my handkerchiefs hanging on the walls like small cotton paintings. I like to stop and stare at the woman's portrait with two little words I drew across her face: "For You".