It was only a matter of time before Design Miami founding director Ambra Medda jumped back into the design hot seat again. Three years since leaving the glittering fair she helped to create, Medda is launching a new venture today: L'ArcoBaleno, an online portal dedicated to collectible design. With an offering that includes cultural reporting, sophisticated e-commerce capabilities and of course, Medda's cherry-picked selection of designers and products, the site touts itself as a source of superior design, accessible to a global audience.
L'ArcoBaleno, which means 'the rainbow' in Italian, debuts with an exciting cross-section of design products available to purchase. Medda has counted on her design connections to bring the treasures of the industry's most esteemed galleries, including Demisch Danant, Galerie Kreo, Johnson Trading Gallery and Rossana Orlandi, to the online marketplace. The site also showcases fashion and technology; visitors can purchase architectural rings by Beate Klockmann, gold necklaces by Nektar de Stagni or even Teenage Engineering's portable OP-1 synthesizer.
'L'ArcoBaleno will reflect the entire spectrum of design - that includes collectible objects, but also fashion, food, music, architecture, art and technology,' says Medda, who holds the title of co-founder and creative director. 'Our hope is that it will influence the global design conversation, and inspire and engage collectors, curators, and devotees of creative fields.'
The site comes armed with a strong editorial element, including original features and video content that has all been developed by an in-house team and an international network of writers. Ranging from trend analysis in the markets and commentaries on the state of design to vibrant travel logs and profiles with the design world's brethren, L'ArcoBaleno is set to be a multi-pronged vessel of inspiration and creativity.
Medda has spent the last year and a half fine-tuning the concept for the site, teaming up with Oliver Weyergraf, who serves as CEO and brings bags of digital commerce experience with him from his previous roles as CEO of the online marketplace Erento and the Director of Trust and Safety at eBay. She has also roped in the taste-making talents of several high-profile friends, like David Adjaye, Tom Dixon, Reed Krakoff and Pharrell Williams, who provide guiding advice and feedback, though knowing Medda, a collaboration or two might well be around the corner.
We caught up with Medda before the big launch to find out exactly what she has in store...
What were your intentions for the site?
I wanted to bring together the design community, create a fun and informative site surrounding the world of design, offer the most extraordinary design from around the world, and support and promote emerging talent.
Is there a significant meaning behind the name?
I love the idea of the rainbow because it feels inclusive and joyful. I felt as though we all needed a jolt of energy in the industry. The breadth of design that we are covering also relates to the entire spectrum of the rainbow. It sounds beautiful. And last, but not least, there is no better feeling than raising your eyes to the sky and seeing a rainbow. I find it totally electrifying.
What are some of the standout features that will set it apart from other curatorial websites?
The diversification of material: you'll find anything from a rare historical desk to a beautifully crafted African basket to a chic electric bicycle. It's very personal and easy to relate to, and it doesn't feel sterile or massive. We show prices for most of our merchandise and we do all of the fulfillment, including shipping. Mainly our content, both editorial and video, will set us apart from our competitors.
Can you share some of the editorial content that you have in store?
I'm proud of our feature stories, including a wide range of Q&As and stories about places and spaces. They are like history lessons that help you put some of our material into context, and short stories about objects. There's quite a variety of subject matter ranging from Bjork's Biophilia project that explores technology, education and music, to the education system in design colleges and how that forges talent and impacts the market. We're also collaborating with Alla Carta, a new Italian magazine dedicated to food and design. And we have a beautiful story shot by Martien Mulder the photographer form NY that shows the work of Le Corbusier in India, and so on.
Are you working on any other projects or is this currently your main focus?
This is most definitely my main focus. It's a relatively large undertaking, given I need to scout the world for exceptional design and oversee the creative direction of the site. There's also a lot of backstage and commercial work. And I have a blog that I update daily, with notes on my findings and encounters.
What additional features for the site do you hope to introduce later down the line?
There are many things we're planning for the coming months: a calendar of design related events around the world, including gallery and museum shows, festivals and fairs. Our social media will also become more active and engaging. We'll be staging special events too: little curated shows, dinners, talks, and all sorts of lively gatherings. There are a number of services we hope to be able to offer, like design advisors who give clients advice in their acquisitions. We would like to connect designers directly with clients to work on on-site installations.
How do you think L'ArcoBaleno will impact the design/art landscape?
Hopefully it will bring great design to a wider audience and also shed light on designers and craftsmen from around the world never seen before.