USA STUFF: LOST & FOUND

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Lost&Found4Itw by Antonio Isaja – Pics by Cristian” Murio” Murianni

HOW LOST & FOUND WAS BORN?

Lost & Found is a project born from another opportunity; we were travelling in the States for business, a different one from what later became Lost’s objective… We were already a vintage enthusiasts, fascinated by all that stuff we’d like to purchase for ourselves (but seen the size of many pieces impossible to bring back home), we were thrilled by the idea of turning this passion into a proper job. So we started to figure out how we could organize the purchase of a sizeable amount of material to make it possible to completely and independently manage a shipping from the USA, then store it in Italian warehouse and at that point think about what kind of business we could run. We noticed that in our country there was a revival of “upswing of the past-lived” mentality, leaving behind the minimalist period. We’ve always been into a type of goods that aren’t available in Italy, a sentiment that was part of our childhood and the “American dream” idea. After searching in America’s ‘garages’ (their typical thrift shops that can be hosted even in their front yards) we started shipping our first loads in 2011.

WHEN DID YOU DISCOVER YOUR PASSION FOR AMERICAN VINTAGE?

It was a childhood nostalgia indeed, the emotions we felt when travelling and seeing those objects already present in our unconsciousness… How many times we’ve found ourselves saying- “Do you remember the series or the actor?” Images are still alive in the USA; either because they didn’t have to endure war so that many possessions with historical value were destroyed, or because of their attitude of making their goods available for sale to anyone. Unlike us, they aren’t so attached to material objects. Perhaps that’s also because of the huge space they occupy and of how simple it is to change one’s life, simply by moving from an utterly cold North state to, for example, warm South to spend rest of their lives there – so they sell everything they got, their belongings from the past.

CAN YOU BRIEFLY TELL US HOW DOES THIS PROCESS LOOK LIKE, FROM PRODUCT RESEARCH IN STATES TO THE STORAGE IN ITALY?

We don’t have the idea what we’re going to look for during every trip from the beginning, there are the several states that draw our attention, depends on a type of item we want to purchase; America is a huge country indeed, so the pieces you find up North or down South are different. Trip after trip, after bringing home the first containers we realized that we were disassembling the stuff in the storehouse a little bit randomly, without any criteria, wherever we found space. Then we understood we had to create some classification with their own identity, so we started to put stuff into themes. For instance the barber shop, with a barber chair, and of course tool cart can’t be missed, or the dresser and the razors set. Within further shipping we tried to complete the diverse themes we were creating inside our space. Experience taught us we had to rent some trucks to purchase the items in time and to fill the vehicle with goods from the flea market (they call it like that, actually they’re enormous spaces) in order to make the best use of the container’s capacity. From the moment the shipment is packed and sent, it arrives in Italian harbor within 40/45 days, however between custom clearance and bureaucratic steps it takes another week, more or less. Later on in the storehouse, when the load finally arrives, the final stage begins which is probably the hardest one: all the new items get codified, photographed, described and then put online… it’s the most important part, to which we dedicate more time and which is giving us the greatest perspective.LOST&FOUND3IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT DO THE OJECTS YOU “GIVE NEW LIFE” REPRESENT?

We often buy items because the people who tell us about them are passionate, appreciating their past and giving them a sentimental aura. Sometimes it’s not a quantity that makes a difference, but a particular chair that was used in a particular place, maybe by a particular character. For each piece there is a story to be told, some of them are even directly tied to our memory because we saw them in a movie or an advertisement. When we make a description for online sales or rent we try to spice it up with those details that often capture the customer’s attention.

CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT LOST & FOUND GROWTH, BOTH IN AMERICA AND ITALY, OVER THE YEARS?

Before there was less awareness within the Italian market, while when it comes to Americans the presentation has always been important part of the service. For the final result, the product itself gives 50% and the 50% is the ambience and vibe it gives. Here in Italy this perception usually has been moved to the background. Only in the latest years we notice a change of direction: now several labels, big companies or stores care about giving the product inside the shop a certain look and feel. The store isn’t a place to solely purchase an item anymore, it actually became a place to choose an item that will stay and go along with you; so it should have the right aura and should be showcased in the proper way. There are more and more shops and labels nowadays that trust in our competence, even if it’s only about 5% in Italy… especially the stores got the attitude to stand out from the competitors with their unique furniture, tempting customers to get in and to buy their products.

WHAT PROJECTS ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?

We’re running many jobs both with visual arts schools and several students, also those studying at master degree level, as Lost is a very interesting establishment both from a cultural and business viewpoint. We’re still trying to draw attention to our ingenuity, just like we’re doing for a beautiful burg nearby. We’re not organizing the usual vintage market, but the revival of a style, a way of presenting things with the ‘Americana’ feel by setting the burg up for the very first time. Indeed in the Americana style, in the pursuit of the easy living and valuing things independently of their actual price.Lost&Found1WHICH PARTICULAR AREAS IN THE UNITED STATES ARE THE MOST INTERESTING FOR SEARCH OF VARIOUS GOODS?

America is interesting as a whole, because every area of their territory has got its own features. If you’re near the coast you find specific kinds of goods, if you’re up North maybe you track down something with maritime origins but it will vary depending on weather conditions and local habits. More Western stuff can be found if you move to Mexico area, perhaps some items link in particular to agriculture or industry. Americans move a lot, so the material you find is very diverse in the various areas; our idea is to visit each state, because we like to go see its culture from Wisconsin highlands to the boarder with Canada and back down to Florida.

WHAT ARE THE HISTORICAL PERIODS OF THE AMERICAN HISTORY AND DESIGN, WHICH YOU FIND INTERESTING FOR THEIR VINTAGE GOODS?

Actually there certain decades, the ’30s are tied to a great evolution period for the American history – consider that in America they didn’t have war within their territory, so there’s a lot of stuff. Without doubts the ’60s-’70s-’80s as well are amongst the most supplied periods of the American history.

DURING LOST & FOUND EXISTENCE, WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT PIECES YOU RECOVERED?

There was a piece that we sold, fortunately or unfortunately: it was a hotel’s bar back side of a counter, one of Miami’s first ever. This was an absolutely historical piece indeed and looking the photographs of those times portraying the area where it was located, this hotel was quite unique in those years. Now it ‘lives again’ in an important showroom in Central Italy, but we’re happy because we appreciate the place where it ended up to be. The truth is we often grow fond of the pieces we sell. There was a pipe organ too, that was also a great piece from the 1800s, a marvel; we sold it to a piano enthusiast. Also a desk from a postal office of the early 1900s, it still had its old stamp and the little boxes where letters got sorted. Many objects have value to us, not only for their age but for what they represent. For instance do you remember the bootblack piece of furniture you saw last year in Milan at Spazio Ansaldo? That as well is part of American history, of a specific profession background. Now it’s in a beautiful shop in Korea, almost recreating a “Lost & Found zone” alongside other pieces we selected exclusively for them. We can’t define it a ‘Lost Korea’ but there will be collaboration as suppliers for sure. To many foreign people the typically Italian taste we put in our research, and a little bit in everything we do, represents a guarantee for the success of a project.Lost&Found2WHICH ARE THE MOST DESIRABLE OBJECTS?

The ‘tavoli riviera’, or chests and hanging units in general, then lamps, armchairs (especially leather ones), traditional American woven chairs, ceiling fans, the classic globe… we work a lot on themes, so maybe we set up a window about motorbikes and we display pieces from that genre. Anyhow, everything related to the ‘welcome’ above all, so chairs, desks, lamps. Finally in Italy too they’re beginning to place a value on the ‘welcome’ concept.

WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT EVENTS YOU COLLABORATED WITH OR SET UP IN THOS FOUR YEARS?

First of all, the Denim Boulevard 2014 for sure, it was a very important step to us. No doubt the Salone del Mobile in Milan, the Motor Bike in Verona, but we also set up several stands at Pitti in Florence and at Bread & Butter in Berlin, besides Eicma and Micam in Milan.

FINALLY, WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PROJECTS?

At this moment our idea is to identify our working pathway and goals. We’ve got to draw more attention without downplaying our product – I mean, a lot of times you buy goods at the flea market and you’re good in creating a set-up too, but there’s no idea behind it, no study, no system, no expertise whatsoever. For each set-up we try to evoke a spirit and soul, a certain consistency that creates the image of the brand and it’s display, also the shop or the event. We should find collaborations with Milan to get more functional, we’re actually finding contacts to organize a storehouse,  Lost & Found’s own space in Milan. We want to keep improving our ability to select goods and deal with purchases, so we would like to work Italian people who can be our dealers, giving us a further chance to recover more and more items. Actually the aspect that many people like is the rent option, because it provides customers with new excitement. Finally we aim at enhancing the contacts with the creatives operating within the field such as visual arts – because we noticed that there is many, but not all of them do research. Lost should become a benchmark for the real Americana style in Italy, providing true stories, objects and emotions!