Alice Spadaro & Valentina Raffaelli | internoconcucina
Nestled in a quiet street off the busy market square Nieuwmarkt is a quaint, classic Amsterdam-style apartment where Alice Spadaro (1988, Padova, Italy) and Valentina Raffaelli
(1985, Rovereto, Italy) have set up a temporary studio space. The heart of the home is the kitchen, which is not surprising for two Italian food enthusiasts who founded a design and
research studio called
(or "interior with kitchen"). Combining their Italian roots and design
backgrounds, Alice and Valentina have created space for themselves to create products and develop a variety of projects with others, all related to the theme of food. With their
on the way to shops in Amsterdam shortly and their exhibition
opening at SLA next week, we stopped by to catch up with the busy duo over a fresh out
the oven blueberry cake.
Can you tell us a little about yourselves?
Alice is an industrial designer while Valentina has a BA in architecture and an MA in interior design. We have always been fascinated by cross-cultural exchange and enjoy traveling and exploring. We both moved to Amsterdam after our studies and have been living here since. It's not always easy being away from your own country, though. We constantly find ourselves connecting the fascinating and inspiring city we live in (Amsterdam) and our motherland (Italy). This has pushed us to strongly appreciate what is different between the two cultures and to look for more contamination to enrich our culinary (and also more general) horizons. We started internoconcucina (translated from Italian into "interior with kitchen"), a project which aims to overcome cultural boundaries and pursue research into a well-balanced and fully aware lifestyle.
What brought you to Amsterdam?
After graduating from our studies in Italy, we both felt the urge to leave the country where we grew up and explore, to delve into new realities. Born and raised in the Mediterranean area, where it’s common practice to make the most of the urban space, we were both attracted by the northern vibe and style, where inside spaces become places of gathering.
Truth be told, we didn’t chose Amsterdam specifically. It chose us. We both came here to do internships, which then became jobs and ultimately led to the switch to freelance work. We moved to Amsterdam in different periods and didn’t know each other at first, so when we met it was clear almost immediately that among the many things we had in common, we shared a huge passion for food. Reading blogs, books and articles, and cooking together for fun were just the beginning and a city like this gives you plenty of opportunities to do that.
Can you tell us about your passion for food?
Like we said, we're still very much bound to our country of origin, Italy. Our roots are there and these bonds continue to influence our daily lives. We grew up surrounded by the love for simple and genuine food and the attention for family traditions. Now that we live away from home, we feel the need to reconnect with our culture and its beautiful habits and rituals even more. The pleasure of cooking with friends, enjoying a simple meal and talking around a table afterwards are priceless pleasures. Food is also a symbol for the pauses in our day; we sit at the table together to enjoy a meal and food marks this time of sharing. The concept behind it is the core of our philosophy.
Internoconcucina celebrates the kitchen's role as central in our living space, a scenario for (cultural) exchange. We start from these premises to create a dynamic, pleasant and stimulating environment, where food and its culture represent the core of our work. In our design process we combine this passion for food with our expertise to tell a story, which changes based on our client's need: it might be a production process, a particular product, a place or a restaurant. It’s not only about the food itself but mainly about the imagery behind it.
What inspired you to start internoconcucina ?
We started collaborating on projects together and as they were mainly about our favorite subject, food, we decided to start our own studio that was exclusively devoted to it. We were looking for a name that would convey the intimacy of a place where people share one of the simplest and most precious pleasure in life. And we wanted it to be Italian. During one of our daily brainstorming sessions, we were discussing the studio space we wanted to build and we agreed on the fact that the presence of a kitchen was a must. That's why we chose internoconcucina (or "interior with kitchen"). It's as simple as that.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
In Italy the coexistence of old and new has always been there. Years of history characterize our environment, from the cities we live in to the small objects we surround ourselves with. We’ve always been fond of our traditions and aim to preserve this connection with our past, embracing imagery that cannot and must not disappear. Our attention for details, love for the small pleasures of life, and meaningful relations are profoundly infused in our design process and the projects we work on and develop.
What kind of work have you done until now?
As a design and research studio we have curated the communication and branding of a couple of cafés and restaurants here in Amsterdam, a biological shop, a wine tasting event in Italy, and have done several stylings for a kitchen catalogue in Milan. We are now busy on a large project for an oil mill on the Garda Lake, curating the communication and the art direction of the interior spaces. At the moment we’re also promoting our ceramic collection ‘Les Madeleines’ which will be available soon in shops in Amsterdam.
Would you say that the city of Amsterdam inspires you?
We consider Amsterdam as the perfect city for people to bring their own stories and pursue their dreams. Its pace and liberty constantly energizes us and the city feeds us with endless inspiration for our work. The magic, for us, is also in blending the north and south: the climate and some of the cultural habits are quite different from the ones we are used to. We have noticed that the memories of our past and our traditions are becoming more vivid here and we try to infuse our southern traits with the work we are doing here, thereby creating a bridge between these two cultures.
Describe a typical day.
We have been traveling a lot for work lately, mainly to Italy, so we haven’t had a steady routine for a while. When we work from Amsterdam, we try to stick to a daily schedule divided into two parts: emails, correspondence and research in the morning and active creation, brainstorming or production in the afternoon. Of course there’s lunch and at least a couple of tea/coffee breaks. We love to cook together and we do it almost everyday. It relaxes and inspires us, so when we need to catch our breath, we turn on the oven and start baking.
Can you name a few of your favorite places in Amsterdam?
We are big fans of thrift shops. We love to hunt for secondhand treasures, so we consider the IJ Hallen to be a paradise, along with the markets and dusty secondhand shops scattered around the city. Amsterdam is full of lovely spots and great sights, but what we love the most are the tiny glimpses of the city you see when sitting along the city's narrow canals. When it’s warm outside we pack our meal and eat on the street, our legs hanging over the canal's edge. When we want to treat ourselves we go to Raïnaraï on the Prinsengracht. The food is delicious and it’s the best place to be on sunny days.
This summer has been really productive for us. We have some exciting news to share soon so stay tuned! In the spirit of mixing and mingling with other cultures, we’re going to expand our connections and travel in October Valentina is leaving for New York and Alice is going to Barcelona. And research plays a large role in our work. We are developing a workshop model that we will present soon and brainstorming about a future project that involves Italian traditions and artisans.
Thank you Alice and Valentina for this interview! Find out more about their work on their website , and be sure to follow along on Facebook , Instagram and Pinterest. Don't miss their exhibition Food-o-graphy at SLA on the Ceintuurbaan.