She’s not only mom to Giovanna and partner of the eclectic tv personality Francesco Mandelli, but also the founder of one of the main communication agencies in Milan. In this exclusive interview, Luisa Bertoldo talks with us about Design, the field she started with and she’s particularly attached to, and in particular the projects seen at the latest edition of ‘Salone del Mobile’.
First of all, would you tell us about the journey that led you to be the founder of one of the main communication agencies in Milan?
I think my own journey began at 14 or 15 years old, when I started working while studying. Those jobs were simple, but required organizational skills, perseverance and, of course, social skills. Even before my studies, these experiences trained me, giving me a method that can be applied to any job. Even today, when I go through a CV, I try to understand if the person who stands before me had a similar training. The necessity of doing something new and interesting for me, the people I work with and those who follow our projects with interest was then added to this approach. For this reason, 10 years ago I opened my communication agency inside of a shared place. Since then, year after year, everything has grown: from the space to people. Every day, we dedicate ourselves to build and rebuild new paths, always staying enthusiast about our job.
I think ‘Design Week’ is, for the city of Milan, the most important week ever, the first real spring party! With fascinating projects and installations, friends coming from all over the world meet each other at every corner and very beautiful objects I'd like to surround myself with.
That being said, what’s your daily routine? To which activities do you dedicate yourself?
My days are divided in two ‘worlds’: on one side, my family and beloved ones and, on the other side, my job. Although it’s a passion of mine, I’ve decided, for some years now, to dedicate a well-defined space to my job, without having any kind of interference in my private life. That also improved the productivity and the quality of the projects. That being said, I wake up early in the morning, if I can I dedicate myself to a mini sports session, I have breakfast with all the family and then…off to kindergarten and the studio. There a new experience is always waiting for me: brainstormings with my team, meetings with clients, press trips, research or exploration meetings, inspections on different photography productions, events or set ups. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, a few hours of peace in my office, reading e-mails and studying something new. By the way, we chose not to have a nanny and, whenever I can, I drop everything and spend some time with my daughter and partner.
Being the head of a public relations agency taking care of several brands in the field of interior design, how would you describe Milan in occasion of ‘Salone del Mobile’?
Even though I dedicate myself to food and fashion too, design is the field I started with and I’m particularly attached to. I think ‘Design Week’ is, for the city of Milan, the most important week ever, the first real spring party! With fascinating projects and installations, friends coming from all over the world meet each other at every corner and very beautiful objects I'd like to surround myself with. All our team is very busy, dealing with events and presentations. That being said, we always try to celebrate the end of the week, toasting and partying as a family.
What are your favourite places in Milan?
Speaking of Design, I immediately think of Bar Basso, a proper institution that’s located halfway from Studio Luisa Bertoldo to home: it’s always a pleasure to have a chat and a drink with owner Maurizio. Breakfast at ‘Liviana’ (in Via Hayez); that’s the sports bar where you can find the best kefir in town. Lunch at ‘28 posti’, where chef Marco Ambrosini always succeeds in arousing my curiosity with his creations. Dinner at ‘Vasiliki Kouzina’; you’ve never seen a Greek restaurant like that! Or at ‘Masuelli’, a typical Milanese trattoria. Casa Corbellini-Wassermann, today called Galleria Massimo De Carlo, is a place to visit, just like Museo civico di Storia Naturale and Parco Indro Montanelli. I also like the playgrounds in Via Morgagni, with their bowlers and chess players. For sure, my favourite neighborhood is Città Studi, with its incredible buildings: from Cremlino to Politecnico and tree-lined promenades, which are perfect for a bike ride.
Going back to my previous question, which are the events you remember as the most unmissable of the ‘Fuorisalone’?
The things I saw are a lot. I went to the headquarters of Alcova to meet some young creatives, like the Flatting studio and the Italo-Japanese Nanban. Then, I headed to ‘Design Republic Gallery’ in Piazza Tricolore, where I had a look at &Tradition’s nordic design. I went to Write Sketch &’s ‘Stationery Porn’ in the Tortona area and to have a look at the collaboration between Pijama and the creative studio La Tigre in the Isola area. Then, Museo della Scienza e della Tecnica with Rossani Orlandi and her ‘Guiltlessplastic’, where I also saw many installations linked to such a theme: among all of them, the tapestry artwork realized by Bonotto with designer Jayme Hayon. Lastly, I headed to Piazza XXV Aprile, where Eataly, in collaboration with Davide Colaci and Politecnico di Milano, created a proper flowery garden, where to relax by looking at flowers and plants.
Which are your first memories of Milan?
My first memory is linked to a picture of me at five, wearing a red coat and standing in front of the Duomo (I remember I had been on a business trip with my father). Then, even though I went back there many more times, my thoughts and memories take me to 10 or 11 years ago, when I opened my PR agency in the city. I remember how beautiful it was discovering, week after week, new and different areas: from Navigli to Porta Venezia. The several bars with concerts (today, most of them are closed) and, as always, the first bike rides…that’s my ideal mean of transport in the city!
Luisa, what’s your ‘Salone del Mobile’ outfit like? Do you have any style-related advice on how to stand out from the crowd?
My look is always ‘strong', but still practical (as I work from dawn till dusk). High heels are banned; oversize dresses, shirts, wide-leg and high-waist trousers, small bags and trench coats with roomy pockets are welcome…and lots of colour, which is the undisputed star in my wardrobe.
And what would you suggest someone who’s planning on visiting Milan for the first time to do?
As to design, I’d suggest concentrating on a few areas, such as Brera Design District, 5 vie and Alcova, alternating them with iconic places: from Duomo to Navigli.
Going back to ‘Salone del Mobile’, if you could change anything, what would you like to change about its organization?
If we talk about the fair or Fuorisalone, the difficulties have to do with the great quantity of events and exhibitors, part of which has no value and is often unbound from the design world. Having the opportunity to intervene, there should be a selection a priori, to give a public and private space, where every project has to meet requirements such as quality and relevance. It’s hard to do that, because people always look for an economic return, but I think we can educate both the companies and people to create worthy stories, without having to take the earnings away. ‘Brera Design District’, although it was born only later, is among the most looked after today and it’s been trying to go towards this direction since the first days.
Lastly, what do you hope for the future of this event?
I hope it will keep its place in the design field, as the international design week, and the attendees at this event will be the first ones to reward worthy projects. I think it’s an example of how, in Italy, you can provide a story with poetry and contents. For this reason, we should be proud of such a result and use it as a positive example of Italian strength and creativity.