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Meet Manuel and Marco

Interview by Anaïs Sandra Carion (a long-time friend, now works as Area Communication Manager for Hermès), Photos by Arnaldo Abba

1. You’ve been both really connected the design and fashion world in very different aspects, can you explain how this influenced your current way of working?

MNL: I felt in love with design unconsciously when I was very young. I liked it and I still love to discover how things are produced, their production process: from the idea to the finished product. I am intrigued by the industrial and managerial side behind a product. Fashion, on the other hand, was a surprise. The arrival in Milan in 2012 made me discover this world. I was lucky enough to work behind the scenes in a sector that for many people is made only of shining fabrics, and I understood the meaning of many things: the effort, the dedication, the passion needed to create a bag, apparently simple. I love this aspect. I have analyzed these two worlds from various points of view: creative, marketing, economic and financial. I learned various things, which I then meticulously applied to my way of doing business.

MRC: My work as a journalist for fashion magazines has allowed me to interview, and thus get to know, some of the most important fashion entrepreneurs. They taught me that behind any result that many people judge mainly for its aesthetic value, there is actually a job made of knowledge, passion, care, detail and sacrifice. These characteristics have forged my approach to work, both in fashion and design: whether the work is small or complex, the approach must always aim for perfection.

2. Sustainability has become lately a huge subject, in which way do you believe you are (and maybe you were already since the beginning), considering this matter in you work?

MNL: Sustainability is now a daily theme. In everyday life I am sensitive to the issue, but I am not "obsessed" with it. In our work we make customers aware and try to guide them towards more sustainable choices, for example using eco or organic materials. The road is long and uphill, but I'm sure it will gradually become the norm: also simply because some products will no longer be available, some logic erased and so on...

MRC: Since my university studies I have been actively dealing with issues related to "made in Italy", I first associated the concept of sustainability with the ethical sphere (respect for labour, use of local resources, local production within a district, community protection, genius loci) even before the purely environmental one. My sensitivity to environmental issues has grown in recent years, and now all our projects also consider green issues as fundamental, but always associated with the issue of "ethical sustainability".

3. If you could name on main goal or project you would liek to achieve, what would it be?

MNL: In recent years I have certainly shown myself first and foremost that the mistakes made in the past have been useful and have created the basis for today's satisfaction. Learning from one's mistakes is the main goal I have achieved. And I am proud of it. When Marco describes me he says that I am a "builder". Every day I spend time thinking about how to develop our agency, how to improve it and how to grow. I read, study, analyse. I take the time to metabolize, make diagrams, record my voice, write pages of thoughts and drawings. In ten years' time I imagine myself running various agencies, running a network of crazy creative and managerial minds. I imagine myself cheerful, with a few wrinkles but always with my explosive energy. I would also like to write a book, who knows…

MRC: Being a widespread agency: a network of partners (each with its own specificity, but united by a unique working method and vision) located all over the world, able to provide integrated services to our clients. Always with a boutique approach, like the one that already distinguishes us, but committed on several fronts at the same time. If I had to choose, on impulse, the next headquarters under the "MM Company" brand, I would choose Rio de Janeiro.

4. What is your favorite object at home, and which way does it inspire you?

MNL: I have a special relationship with my home, born quite recently. For years I have considered our office more as my home. I love laying on the sofa as much as I love reading in bed. I don't have a particular object but many memories, many little things that every day remind me of who I am or who I was. My first prototypes, some photos, some drawings, some glasses taken at a market, some old cutlery, some plates bought in Bogota, some gifts received. Let's say that it is the whole box that inspires me. I like to lie in bed, look around and reflect. In fact, I insisted on having a totally dark green room to calm down my energy and allow me to think.

MRC: A lithograph by Floriano Bodini, which was the gift for my boyfriend's thirtieth birthday. We were moved by that work of art, the protagonist of an exhibition he had set up in Carrara ten years earlier. He remembered this fact and managed to acquire it through the artist's daughter for that special occasion. Every time I look at it I retrace all the years we spent together.

5. How would you describe your work collaboration and balance?

MNL: We are two strong, fearless, generous and stubborn people. We are completely different, but we have common characteristics. We are accomplices and we compensate each other perfectly. We have had the good chance to know each other but we have built, shaped, corrected, amplified, developed together all the rest. Day after day, year after year. A constant and beautiful path of growth where no one is left behind, we both learn from each other every day and where being together wins over everything.

MRC: Manuel has a dual vision: either in the present, or projected to very (very) long term strategies. For me, on the other hand, there is (almost only) the medium-term dimension, which leads me to work today to achieve "visible" goals. This leads us, in the projects that concern us, to be truly complicit. The same complementarity also happens in another area: Manuel is a pure idealist, I am a disenchanted (a bit too much) realist. Two characteristics that must coexist in a business project. From a personal point of view, I have also understood that the keys to a long-term relationship are to know oneself, to be respectful, to esteem the partner and to communicate.

6. How important is your work environment, and you collaborators, to you?

MNL: The agency is the place where we spend most of our time. We strive every day to make it a creative, professional but at the same time carefree and welcoming place. Every day I go to work with a smile and this is a great achievement. I think our staff are happy, they understand my vision and know that every day I get out of bed to make them feel better and better. There is clarity, honesty, respect, gratitude. Elements that make everything beautiful and stimulating. For me they are fundamental: without them nothing we do today would be possible, nor the management of the agency's workload.

MRC: In a very early period the office was also our home, so I have a special emotional bond with the space in which we work because it represents the starting point of many things. Although I understand that work efficiency comes from structuring and inevitably from rigour, we try to make the office a place for the whole team to feel at home, welcomed, and free to express themselves ("but not too much", as a sentence hanging in the hall says).

Ph. Arnaldo Abba

Ph. Arnaldo Abba


Ph. Arnaldo Abba

Ph. Arnaldo Abba

Ph. Arnaldo Abba


Ph. Arnaldo Abba

Ph. Arnaldo Abba

Ph. Arnaldo Abba

Ph. Arnaldo Abba


Anaïs Sandra Carion, a long-time friend, now works as Area Communication Manager for Hermès. Ph. Dorian Lohse