An Interview with <br> Iacopo Calamandrei
Borgo Women

An Interview with
Iacopo Calamandrei

As we unveil our latest collection, our co-founders Carmen and Joana want to introduce you to one of the creative forces behind the Borgo de Nor brand. Meet Iacopo Calamandrei, our visionary and innovative print designer.

A note from Borgo de Nor’s Creative Director, Carmen Borgonovo

“I clearly remember my first meeting with him. He sat quietly absorbing Joana and I waxing poetic about our vision for the brand. And with a calm composure, he delicately unpicked the essence of our individual spirits, and managed to pinpoint the heart of what the brand could evolve into. We resonated with his profound creativity, distinctive flair, and genuine appreciation for the unique. It became clear to me that he was the ideal artist to bring our prints to life.

Iacopo boasts an incredible career in fashion. Born in Firenze, Italy, his grasp of elegance and quality is immediately apparent. He studied Fine Art at the Academy of Fine Art in Florence and did his BA at London College of Fashion and Masters in Fashion Design at the Royal College of Art. Working at Alexander McQueen for 6 years he honed his skills, draping shapes and patterns for the couture team, and creating bespoke designs for VIP clients. But it’s the magic and humour that I love most about him. He cares for every last detail. We can discuss the shape of petals for hours, which believe it or not can easily change the mood of the entire print. I can send him a small corner of an image from a vintage magazine and it will inspire the most marvellous new artwork. Just recently, I wanted to achieve a rich red burgundy colour and found the exact shade in a vintage car. “That car saved me”, was his remark when we talked about it later. I adore the occasional randomness of how we realise some of our favourite creations and his consistent ability to see the beauty in everything, everywhere!

Sometimes we refer to the prints as ladies and just the other day we were discussing a design that wasn’t quite right. As we stared at her on the board we concluded “at the moment she’s having tea and we need her to be enjoying a Martini”. The women we design for always like to have a little bit of fun!

Our prints are the soul of our brand. For us, they are living things that evolve with colour, intensity, elegance, joy and strength. And when they are worked into a design, our pieces become animated. I can say without a doubt that working with lacopo is to watch a maestro in action.

As a child he wanted to become a botanical artist, supporting the world of horticultural sciences. And while his childhood ambitions may have taken a different turn, he has enveloped us in an enchanting world of flowers, foliage and pattern. We couldn’t be more thankful to be recipients of his unending talent.”

Please introduce yourself. Your name, where you live and what you do?
I am Iacopo Calamandrei, I live in London and I am an artist.

How would you describe the ‘Borgo de Nor’ woman?
A Borgo woman is an independent, busy, modern woman, however she is also a dreamer who remains true to herself. She has a bit of bohemian spirit in her soul and a positive point of view. She is romantic, feminine and relevant!

Can you describe your design philosophy and how it influences your work in print?
I think you have to enjoy every stage and have fun in the process of crafting a good print.

What is your perfect working environment?
I prefer to work in my own studio surrounded by inspirational objects, books and my selection of music.

What inspired you to pursue a career in print design?
As a small kid I have always been surrounded by books, at home and in my father’s bookshop. I was fascinated by all the illustrations I could find within the pages, especially those from the 1800s of botanical flora and fauna, and plates from far exotic countries. The style always felt a little distorted and otherworldly which only added to the magic for me.

Do you ever experience a ‘creative block?’
I don’t think there is such a thing as a creative block. You just need to start with something. Perhaps it is a ‘very wrong something’ but it will take you somewhere, somehow.

In your opinion, what makes a print memorable?
A print should be like a book. It must have a purpose, a story, and take you somewhere.

What is your most essential design tool?
It is a good quality 6B graphite pencil. That is where it all starts.

How do you approach designing prints for different seasons?
Along with the wider team, we discuss a collection’s inspiration at the studio. I work to determine the main print focus for the season. The print which will be the pillar for the season in question, leading to the development of the rest of the prints in the collection. We want the prints to share a sense of unity and at the same explore the different ways to tell stories and feelings, with styles, techniques, and colours found in the theme.

How do you incorporate inspiration from different cultures and art movements?
I mentally project myself into the place or culture, absorbing myself with foods, text, and photography, trying to get to the core – the flavour and essence of what makes it special and interesting. I bring it all with me into my work, as perhaps it might facilitate interesting new techniques, unusual colours, and unexpected textures.

How do you adapt your designs to different fabrics and garment styles?
I feel the colour intensity and techniques of artwork naturally dictate what type of fabric needs to be allocated.

Do you prefer creating more natural organic prints or bold geo-symmetry?
I generally like organic shapes and play with them to end up with a symmetry or geometry layout.

Do you have a favourite flower that you keep going back to in your work?
Definitively peonies and orchids are the ones that usually populate my work.

What is your favourite season in the UK?
Winter next to a burner in a cosy room surrounded by exotic tropical plants.

Fashion is often about storytelling – do you keep a strong narrative in your mind when you are designing your prints?
Yes, usually I do make up little stories. Or fictional trips to some exotic places, accompanied by some music and interesting or unusual images.

How do you balance creativity with commercial viability when creating your prints?
I let creativity flow freely then I start to break it into what is essential and widely readable.

Do you enjoy gardening too?
Yes, I do and I am particularly keen to take on those plant species in need of lots of special attention.



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