A Visit to Rua Confettora 17

We’re still in Europe for this month’s Design Store(y), but down in Italy, visiting with Daniela Bettoni, proprietor of the intriguing Rua Confettora 17, housed in a former artisan’s restoration workshop. Today, thanks to Bettoni, the space is dedicated to international design. The signs of its past incarnation can still be found in the cast-iron machinery, cabinet makers’ benches, and from the tools hung on the wall, as well as in the parquet flooring laid by the restorers who once worked there. The rooms, which open one into the other, lead to a delightful little inner courtyard with its late 14th century columns and arches. Each object for sale reflects Bettoni’s personal taste. The store offers furnishings, home accessories, experimental jewelry, and books and magazines on design. Time to go in…

Why did you pick this particular storefront?

I didn’t pick this storefront. It picked me. I discovered this place five years ago when it was being used to host a workshop on artisan furniture restoration. I was told by the old artisans that they were going to stop their activity. Since I had already fallen in love with this place, I couldn’t imagine letting it be abandoned. So I started thinking: What can I do with this fantastic place?!

Where did you get the name for the store?

I was immediately fascinated by the atmosphere of the artisan workshop, but also by the evocative name of the street: Rua Confettora. Rua takes its origin from the French word for street, rue, and it refers to a settlement of French workers dating back to the Carolingian times. Confettora comes from Latin confector, i.e., tanner. This unusual name immediately sounded good to me. I think it’s perfect for an unconventional, international design shop. It evokes something special, and it is also pretty harmonious and curious. Seventeen indicates the civic number where the shop is.

How has it evolved?

I always add new collections. Recently, I have added a section dedicated to books and magazines on art, design, and architecture. This part of the shop is very important for me because I believe in promoting all the aspects of the culture sustaining my project. There’s also a new section dedicated to kids that has little toys and illustrated books. And, in September, we launched our online design shop.

What are the challenges you have with the business?

Every step was a challenge for me, I learned something new every day. Maybe the most difficult challenge was to show to myself and to the others what I was able to do with this opportunity and with my creativity. Rua Confettora 17 is an unconventional shop, it can be considered a laboratory as well as a gallery. Each chosen object reflects my personal taste and is selected from a wide range that extends from handmade and limited edition products, to the most famous brands and production-line items. I hope the unusual display of the objects placed together randomly provokes intellectual short circuits, and evokes novel combinations and new meanings.

What other stores have you worked in before opening this one?

Nowhere. I didn’t study marketing, I’ve never had any manger, I created my own business plan thanks to the help of brilliant friends and to old masters with experience in fashion, art, design, life. I wrote down every idea, I observed every storefront, every bookshop, every museum, also every hardware store! I studied history of contemporary art and also design and architecture at the University. The interest towards art is always present in my research.

Was there an existing shop that inspired you?

I was very much inspired by a wonderful place in Milan named Rossana Orlandi. I love it!

What are your favorite items in the store right now?   

In the last period I completely fell in love with two different collections of the young Italian designer Cristina Celestino: Atomizer collection is based on the idea of table perfumes for oil and vinegar. They are made of borosilicate glass blown by able glassworkers. The Atomizer family takes its inspiration from the antique glass bottle used for fragrances. Then, in my heart there is the Veneer collection: they are vases created with wrapped wood, glass fibre, carbon, and adhesive films. They are a balanced mixture of typological inventions and materic experimentation. The Veneer Collection stems from the merging of art and design.

Are you carrying any new products and/or undiscovered gems you’re particularly excited about?

I’m particularly excited about our three new brands dedicated to kids and grown-ups we showed up during Christmastime: The Dutch design of Kidsonroof made of sturdy recycled cardboard for young and old people; the MAKEDO set, designed in Australia, is a set of reusable connectors for creating things from the stuff around us, like cardboard, it is very funny, and lastly the Flensted mobiles, designed and made in Denmark. In Italy we don’t have a domestic forniture’s culture as much developed as in the North of Europe but our customers are enthusiastic for any new discovery.

What’s been a consistent best seller?

The series of Park Planter porcelain vases designed by Tristan Zimmermann for sure, but also the tiny Foscarini Binic table lamps, and the Konstantin Slawinsky trivet Perle in porcelain. This season the absolute best seller is the Paola C. tableware collection. As for jewelry, our bestseller is Marcela Salvador’s collection in crocheted silver wire. Girls and women fall in love with them every time!

Are there any special events or exhibitions coming up?  

I have always tried, since the opening, to create events at Rua Confettora 17 to promote collections, designers, books, or projects with particular attention to young Italian designers. The Cristina Celestino exhibition, named Gardino d’inverno (Winter Garden), is now finishing. For the exhibit we made a little garden in our gallery with her creations, in collaboration with NOTESpiedinudinelparco. For spring I will organize an event for another collection of vases in natural wood and blown glass by Animedagiardino.

What pieces from the store do you use personally?

I have a lot of  jewelry from my store; I’m a woman and luckily I can take advantage from my business. Every day I wear a cork ring by Claudia Chaves, a Portuguese designer, or a brooch made of paper and wax by Italian Alice Visin. I also wear the US acrylic diamond ring by Alissia Melka. My favorite ring is the Prism Capsule designed by New York-based Eileen Caldwell in recycled sterling silver and mined crystal. I admit rings are my weakness!

Visit Rua Confettora 17 at rua Confettora17, 25122 Brescia, Italy.

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.