MY FIRST INTERNATIONAL EXHIBITION IN GENOA, October 1984
After the unexpected success at Macef (Milan international trade fair dedicated to home accessories and furnishings), Paolo the skipper, partner of the company, aspired to exhibit at the Genoa boat show, then one of the first in the world. Experts thought it impossible to participate due to the long waiting list, I followed my instincts, did not make a formal application to the appropriate departments, and wrote a letter by hand addressed to the director, Astrid Muckerman.
“Dear director, I am surprised that my company is not present at such a prestigious fair… With esteem, GL”. According to Paolo, it was the right attitude to never be summoned again, but only a few days passed before a phone call arrived: “Hello, I’m Astrid Muckerman…. I apologize, but I don’t know your company, send me some catalogues”. Not having any documentation, I set up a meeting, I picked up a picture, a porthole, something else at random and off to Genoa. “The Muckerman”, as she was called, she was portrayed to me as an authoritative, determined person of few words who kept her distance…
At the appointment I found myself in front of a beautiful lady with a charming soft R who looked at me curious, silent, carefully observed the objects and with a pleased expression she began: Locatelli is right these objects are worthy of being exhibited at the Nautico di Genova. We instantly empathized, she was kind and helpful, she made me visit the boat show showing me that all the spaces were sold out. We said goodbye and her regret was palpable, but right at that moment, an anomalous space jumped out at me, it was narrow one meter and about 10 long, an unusable recess, I decided to challenge fate by asking: “Directress, could I transform this gut in a stand? Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.” We each remained suspended in our own thoughts for a moment and then her response: “Ok Locatelli, I want to trust you”. Astrid, great character: she is happy to have sold an impossible space, I am overjoyed to be exhibiting at the Nautico!
This exultation of mine was instantly frozen upon my return. Paolo was not so joyful, and he presented me with the harsh reality: in a very short time we would have had to create an effective stand in an impossible space at an international boating fair, without a minimum of experience. All without materials for the set-up and above all without an adequate means of transport, he finished the long list by saying: “remember that the budget is 2 million lire and not a cent more, you decided it!”. Without taking a breath, I bought the floor: strictly parquet, one of the first interlocking floors.
One night I opened my eyes, I saw the walls of our stand materialize, perfect, not bulky and transportable with our cars, it required a simple scaffolding and fabric. I called a friend of the family, a builder, to borrow innocent posts with relative clamps, the following day we began a long restoration work, we sanded and brushed for days, the immense effort gave us an excellent result!
Now the fabric was missing: with innocent anthracite gray poles and pure gold clamps, the drapes had to be strictly white silk, moiré workmanship, I explained to Paolo that in interior design it means guaranteeing the elegance and impeccable character that you want to give to one space. Paolo listened to me with tolerance since the selected fabric had an unthinkable cost, he suddenly remembered that he had an uncle specialized in the textile sector. We flew to him, he welcomed us warmly, holding the very fabric I wanted in his hands! I timidly asked for the cost, the answer was: I know your budget, there’s no hope, that’s why I decided to give it to you.
Good luck seemed to want to accompany us: a mutual friend would have rented us some furniture, for little money, we showed up with great expectations, but it was a great disappointment when I saw some display cases. HORROR!!! I thought, that wasn’t what was on my mind. With the last drops of patience, Paolo tried in vain to convince me that we had no other choice, I no longer listened to his words, I looked out the car window as if to look for something, something that I didn’t even know… An immense pile of wood, lying abandoned in the square of a company, I forced Paolo to stop and enter, I very politely convinced the secretary to call me the owner. A gentleman of a certain age showed up, visibly annoyed, I gathered courage with both hands and in a whisper I asked: sir, I’m interested in buying those boxes covered by that mountain of wood.
The man was amazed and with a big laugh he replied: young lady, if you are able to move all the stacked wood and reach the crates, I will give them to you. You unleashed all the energy I had in my body and the challenge began, I didn’t want to look at Paolo for hours, perhaps for days. We worked continuously for two days, I didn’t feel tired, I behaved like an archaeologist in search of hidden treasures… Finally, I could look at them, touch them, smell their smell, I felt the need to absorb their sap through the senses. There were many of them, they were beautiful, with interesting and unusual shapes, fascinated, I spent some time motionless observing them until the owner broke the spell by saying to me: “Congratulations, miss, I appreciate your stubbornness, these crates have been lying here since the Second World War, they belonged to the German army, some of them contained the windows of military jeeps. Now they belong to her, she deserved them: WILLING IS POWER!”.
Thus began a loving game, I wanted to restore beauty to these containers that hold infinite stories… Words weren’t enough to convey my state of mind, I could finally refuse the horrendous showcases! In the garden, with my speakers, I simulated the stand, with the blue sky above my head, rigorously barefoot to absorb every vibration transmitted. In such wonder, the proverbial bolt from the blue could not be missing: the technical offices of the nautical sector demanded “fireproofing certificates” !!???? I didn’t even understand what they were talking about. Paolo reassured me that the floor and the fabric of the walls were already fireproof while the crates could not be used because the wood was not treated, the solution existed, brush them with a liquid… I categorically refused! The liquid would have ruined the patina and beauty of my jewelry. The next day we would leave for Genoa.
I spent the night awake, I could not give up my beloved crates, I suddenly remembered the last sentence said by the nautical manager: only items for sale do not require fireproofing. I slipped some sheets of the price list into the typewriter, Olivetti 22 and began to type one key after another with serious difficulty in an indefinable amount of time until I got to the bottom: case by case, measurements, use and description of the object, value etc… Shortly after I was in Genoa, the guards at the entrance asked me for fireproofing documents, everything was up to standard except for the crates, I showed the price list of the furniture, which was my crates, leaving the employees speechless.
I entered the GENOA international fair with the same amazement of Alice in Wonderland. It was an indescribable experience in words, only if you could draw emotions with brushstrokes of color would it be simple. The following year, my beloved director gave me a new challenge, and I was more than happy to accept it. “Locatelli, your collections give light to the nautical world, now I want your creations to shine even more. He will move it to pavilion C, where there are large yachts out of the water. You will be able to create an arrangement under the keels of the yachts, using all the space you need, when the work is completed we will measure the space, and consequently you will pay what you owe.It will be more expensive, but you will certainly have a great return”.
It was a unique opportunity, my creativity was not without limits… The surrounding environment thus became a perfect scenario to bring my collections to life, it was a point of reference for the entire boat show, it captured the attention of visitors arousing admiration and wonder Thanks to this proposal, I proved once again that I was capable of transforming even the most unusual spaces into rooms with a great aesthetic impact. And for the second time, Astrid Muckerman managed to sell an impossible space!
I forgot the ties in the title: those ties were the gift that Astrid Muckerman, on behalf of the Boat Show, gave every year to all the exhibitors who, until my arrival, were all strictly male. I still keep them all in my memories.