What is your craft / art / creative endeavor?
We are a family business focused on the creation of eco-friendly home décor, ‘green’ gift ideas, custom made furniture and original specialty pieces. All of our products are made with reclaimed white oak that we recycle from French wine barrels. It’s a material that hasn’t stopped impressing us for its beauty, charm and distinctiveness
How did you get started? Have you worked in other creative areas before the kind of work you’re doing now?
Our beginning was quite fortuitous; while visiting a local winery in the north of California, we noticed a bunch of unused barrels, piled up in a corner and ready to be discarded. We asked a few questions and learned about the chemical properties of oak itself and how it plays a significant role in winemaking, affecting the color, flavor, and texture of the wine.
Over time many of the oak properties get “leached” out of the barrel and after 3 to 5 vintages the barrel is ready to be discarded.
My husband is an experienced and passionate woodworker, so he could immediately recognize and appreciate the quality of the chosen oak the French barrels are made of, and felt that we could turn that unfortunate waste into a ‘green’ idea.
The more we worked with this wood, the more we could notice and appreciate the uniqueness of each barrel, the different grain, quality and character that every stave presents; for us every dent, discoloration and mark is a very valued and honored sign of age that we have a lot of respect for.
It makes us quite happy that we are able to give this wonderful material a new life in our customers’ hands.
Is there a story behind the name of your shop?
In Italian ‘stil novo’ means ‘new style’ and it’s reminiscent of the ‘dolce stil novo’, which was a very important literary movement in Italy during the 13th century. Somehow it seemed to fit with our vision and stylistic choices.
Do you work alone? With a team? Do you engage your family or friends in the work? What is your process? How do you ensure you get your work done yet still have a life?
Every piece we make is the direct product of a ‘family effort’, from the conceptualization of the idea to its realization; we all have to ‘endorse’ it or it doesn’t make it to the catalog and we all take pride in putting our name on it.
Even our 10 years old twin girls often participate to the whole process, giving suggestions or sharing their personal preferences.
My beloved husband of 18 years, Stefano Capaccioli, is an accomplished woodworker/furniture maker; he possesses endless creativity, amazing abilities and meticulous skills that allow him to take on tricky challenges and to turn them into achievements.
I, Camilla, take care of orders, customer service, packaging and shipping. I hand paint our decorated items, which I enjoy doing a lot and create all of the listings. I also do the necessary ‘foot-work’, networking and marketing, in order to get Stil Novo Design noticed and appreciated. Last, but certainly not least, I am the one who does all the ‘nagging’ about every little detail, deadline and such, a very essential role in any family business!!!!
Our business has become for us another way to exchange our views, taste and choices with each other and to spend time together, sharing every moment of the creative process; We have a lot of fun doing it and we consider ourselves lucky to be able to make it into such a special family experience.
When either of us comes up with an idea, having an architectural background, my husband easily sketches it on paper, we discuss it further and define the details; after that he makes a prototype and we decide if the design needs more options or adjustments, and if it gets ‘promoted’ it’s added to our inventory.
Also, often our customers offer suggestions or request a custom piece that gives us the opportunity to explore our creative potential even further.
When the high season puts us under pressure we are often forced to involve some of our friends (and our girls!!) in any possible way: making labels, polishing the pieces, wrapping, boxing etc… and our home turns into a busy ‘beehive’.
Where do you sell your work? Which venues are your favorites? Do you prefer selling online or in person? Do you attend shows or fairs? Is your work in a gallery or brick-and-mortar store?
We have most of our inventory available at our fabulous Etsy store. We have opened other on-line stores, but Etsy is the one we favorite.
From time to time we participate to street fairs and art shows; although I enjoy selling and meeting in person with our customers, explaining the process involved and the history behind every piece, every show has become such a time and funds demanding enterprise, that we are becoming very cautious in choosing the ones to attend to. We’d love to expand our ‘FaceBook family’.
Do you have any favorite handmade shops or sellers you’d like to recommend?
These are some fellow Etsians sellers that I truly admire for their awesome work, eco-creations and professionalism:
What inspires and motivates you?
Being a family business, our first and true source of motivation for us is to be and to work with each other, appreciating the commitment, the care and effort invested by each of us and sharing the joy of every achievement; I think that it’s somehow reflected in the harmony and warmth that all of our pieces seem to convey.
The recycled material that we use also offers endless inspiration; the natural arch of the wine barrel staves ‘spurs’ us to play with shapes and designs in a very imaginative way, while the singular grain of the French white oak bestows a quite unique quality on every piece we make. We believe that there is a lot left to explore, learn and discover.
People’s resourcefulness is quite inspiring as well; to witness what people are able to create and the resilience demonstrated by many of the true artists we had the fortune to meet along the way, have given us great encouragement and boosted our passion. We are very thankful for that.
What do you wish I had asked you?
I ask my self, almost every day: “Is it worth?”. The answer becomes clear every time we experience that moment of blissful gratification when, what we have created makes someone else happy, someone who seems to love it and appreciate it as much as we did while ‘giving birth’ to it… it’s quite an addicting feeling.
Thanks Camilla! And if you would like to be interviewed next, just head over to DIY Interview.