A Visit to Maison 203

Although this month’s Design Store(y) subject has a distinctly French name, it’s actually located in the Veneto region of Italy. Maison 203, is a glass-fronted, white slice of a shop on a quaint brick street that opened in June 2010. The owners, husband-and-wife designers, curate covetable items from a respectable roster of established international designers and emerging brands.  We’ve long been fans of their sleek web shop, and were thrilled to discover they exist IRL (that’s “in real life” for those of you not versed in txting) as well. Let’s step inside and find out more about the business.

Why did you pick this spot for your store?

We picked Treviso because we live in the area and the city is the provincial capital. We felt that there wasn’t anything even close to the idea of a concept/experience design store here.

Where did you get the name for the store?

203 is the number of the parcel where my family lives in the Cartizze area. It’s the core of the richest selection of the Prosecco Wines Valley. My family’s house is right in the middle of this exclusive small area. The finest wine my family produces is called “Mappale 203,” which means Parcel 203. So, it seemed just natural for us to call the store Maison 203.

Tell us about the design of the store.

We chose a very small but central space and tried to make it unique and very versatile by creating display walls made of rails on which different size shelves can be inserted according to our needs. A video display on a mirror on the back wall shows different themes according to the season. The store is  constantly changing as we adapt and try to keep up with the evolution of society and design.

What’s one of the challenges you have with the business?

We have to educate. Unfortunately design culture is not recognized as part of a person’s life in this area. One would think the opposite due to the amount of design companies in the country, especially in the Veneto region, exactly where we live, yet reality is quite the opposite. Therefore we are constantly teaching our customers.

Have you worked in other stores prior to opening Maison 203?

My husband and I are both designers and have worked in design studios in the past, but neither of us has had any experience in retail before opening Maison 203.

What’s your favorite item in the store right now?

We tend to completely fall in love with every new product the moment it arrives in the store and want to take it home with us. It’s really impossible to choose a favorite. Yet at the moment I would say we particularly enjoy HAY’s latest office products, especially the Plissè archive folder, as well as the SUPER sunglasses collection.

What is this season’s theme?

We don’t have a particular theme for the season, we actually try to change our window theme every two weeks in order to fit in with festivities and happenings in the city and country. And we have always tried, since opening, to create small events in the store to promote a brand/designer/artist in order to bring more people to the store, making it a theme for a two weeks period. For instance, over the summer, our store window displayed a hanging handmade hammock from Venezuela, Muuto’s ceiling lamps, SUPER sunglasses, and and outdoor table and lounge chair by HAY on a bed of sea sand. The window pictured above, with the Poltrona Prince Chair, has more of an autumn/winter feel to it.

Are you carrying any new products or lines you’re particularly excited about?

We are very fond of KnIndustrie, a new Italian company that designs and produces cooking pots. It has been a best seller ever since we introduced it.

What’s been a consistent best seller?

The KnIndustrie ABCT collection of ceramic coated white pots as well as Foscarini’s Binic table lamp. Our customers fall in love with those every time. However, this season’s absolute best seller is our very own MYBF ring, which is  a 3D-printed diamond shaped ring. Girls and women love the irony behind it, and simply find it a fun and fashionable piece of jewelry.

So you have your own line?

We started our own line last year, launching the Offset stool designed by Giorgio Biscaro, followed by MYBF, which we designed ourselves. At the moment we are working on two new projects with young designer Giorgia Zanellato. We hope to debut it very soon. In addition to selling our products  at Maison 203, they can also be found at Fleux in Paris and Do shop in London.

Do you ever have any special events, exhibits, or pop ups?

We are recently organized a cocktail DJ night to promote the SUPER sunglasses collection that just landed in our store.  In July we were be part of a design and fashion itinerary in the city in collaboration with IUAV (Univerisity of Architecture Design and Fashion in Venice), where the most significant stores in Treviso will display the best graduation projects by the fashion design students.

Do you have anything from the store in your own home?

We would really love to have everything and we feel blessed for being in this business because we get the chance to bring home some of the most spectacular pieces of design. At the moment we have at home some of the KnIndustrie pots, a variety of Marimekko mugs and coffee cups, Muuto’s salt and pepper grinders and their I’m Boo carafe, Foscarini’s Rock lamp designed by Diesel, and of course our MYBF ring in all the color variations.

Marni Elyse Katz is a Contributing Editor at Design Milk. She lives in Boston where she contributes regularly to local publications and writes her own interior design blog, StyleCarrot.