Serendipity on Corso Como
This was hands down my absolute favorite day so far! I'd go back and relive it all over again if I could. Our itinerary for this trip is extremely jam-packed as a whole. This day was an exception to this fast paced schedule. Dad had conference this day so the rest of us were free to stray from the itinerary he'd created. Mom and Ivan had done zero research so I pretty much dictated what I thought we would do for the day. Let's just say it didn't go as planned, but turned out lovely.
Good Morning, Milan!
Venice really drained us the day before and dad was out for the day because of work. Mom, Ivan, and I decided we'd take this day slow. The rest of our Europe trip will be filled with early waking hours because of train times, so it was nice to be able to wake up later than usual today.
While researching places to visit for the day, I knew I wanted to have a chance to check out the more contemporary areas of Milan. The only exact destination that I had planned on visiting before arriving in Italy was a media library slash garden called CUBO. Using the hotel WiFi, I saved the directions onto my phone and felt pretty confident about leading us there.
After a subway ride and a couple minutes of walking, we were sad to find that it was closed!!! I wasn't sure if it was for renovations or if they were moving, but it looked pretty empty. My mom and brother came were disappointed as well since I'd shown them all the photos of it before leaving the hotel. We snooped around the building a little with little to show until we decided to just continue exploring the area nearby.
The Serendipitous Quest
We walked further away from our subway station and really loved what we found! Using the paper map we had in hand, I realized that we were heading right towards the heart of the metropolitan downtown business district of Milan.
It was great seeing beautiful modern architecture. Mom enjoyed just being able to enjoy the good weather, and my brother was ecstatic to find a Patagonia store along the way.
Around this point, it struck me that we had a chance of finding one of my favorite shops that I'd seen in Seoul called 10 Corso Como. An Italian acquaintance of my mom had also suggested that we visit Corso Como this morning. I didn't think much of it until my brother looked at the map and pointed to a street with the same name. It was nearby from where we were at!
As soon as we turned the corner, it was obvious that this street was a big deal. The large open entrance made it quite obvious. Corso Como is a long pedestrian promenade and turns out is often called the commercial center of Milan! It's lined with so many shops, bars, cafés, and restaurants. It's also very clean and well maintained compared to many of the other places we'd passed in Italy so far. The street was an obvious hub for nightlife and we were delighted to see the diverse kinds of cuisines here.
While walking up and down the street, it finally fully dawned on me that 10 Corso Como (the shop I mentioned earlier) was the actual address of the shop and also its brand name. It was so meta that it didn't really make sense to me at first. We walked to where the address for 10 would be... I looked around for a sign and was a little bit confused. From the street, it looked just seemed like an entrance to a garden. A wall of tall plants blocked the view, keeping the inside private from the street.
BUT. Once we walked past the plants, I screamed inside with joy. Beyond the wall of platns, we found a quaint, lush, green courtyard that was indeed part of the 10 Corso Como experience. I was so impressed by how subtle and classic their sign for the store looked. 10 Corso Como is a cohesive brand that combines the showing and selling of art through music, design, fashion, food, and culture. It was created by the talented Carla Sozzani (*fangirl mode*) and was designed to be a microcosm of its own.
10 Corso Como is made up of a garden courtyard, restaurant, café, shop, and gallery. On the first floor, there was a large yet intimate feeling shop located next to the café. There were a lot of new arrivals that I enjoyed looking at. I especially liked the softly lit hanging lights.
Afterwards, we made our way to the second floor where I nearly died of happiness. There's a design shop on the second floor that's full of all my favorite publications. It had a carefully and thoughtfully curated collection of magazines, small goods, decorative art, and more. I was surprised and delighted to also find a Keith Haring corner that sold limited items.
I geek out whenever I see spaces that are thoughtfully and tastefully curated. The reason I love 10 Corso Como so much is how often it collaborates with East Asian countries such as Japan and Korea. It's not as common as I wish it was... but I suppose that's what makes it so special! Sozzani is a actually a real role model to me... in the sense that I've always envisioned myself doing work that is as fluid as hers. She really is part of the rare breed that knows how to bring her vision to life across so many industries in a unifying way. In her own words:
“I wanted to make a living magazine. I was, for 19 years, a fashion editor, so editing for me was instinctual, and maybe the only thing I knew then. I unconsciously got into retail without knowing what it meant, driven by the desire to communicate — to share my editing choices with readers who would become visitors and customers. I was sharing and getting feedback that I could not get then from magazines, as the Internet and blogs did not exist at the time. Photography had been a big part of my work, and I had also become passionate about collecting, so in 1990, the building at 10 Corso Como was the address where the loft was that became Galleria Carla Sozzani. That was the first stone — and then the bookstore, the café, and the store.”
Okay, I'll stop here. Don't want to bore you! There was also an intriguing photo showcase by Giovanni Lista on futurism on exhibition next door to the shop.
Besides the obvious 10 Corso Como adventure, I loved this day because of how close-up I got to see the lives of Italy's modern day person. People just going about their lives and grocery stores that displayed food in ways that I wasn't used to... By 6 in the evening, everyone seems to slow down and really enjoy their leisure. I think it's something that Americans don't really embrace a lot – slow, sweet, and true leisure.
A realization that I'll share is that through this trip so far, I've been able to see myself through a fresher lens. It's a good thing! Sozzani is just one of the many women in the world that I find to be so talented and interesting. People who are fluid, innovative, and know how to communicate their vision tend to gain my admiration. This part might be TMI: I grew up as a Korean girl in a conservative community that yearned to be free and travel... (this is a small bit of my personal background). I'm sure everyone grew up with these sort of conflicts and tensions inside of them. I used to hate all the clashing... but as I venture out into the world, I've come to be okay with them and want to actually embrace it all!
I used to think that good communication was enough. However, I'm getting more and more committed to the idea that I want to develop my own unmistakable style of communication in the world that is not just "good" but becomes great. In order to transform this idea into a reality, I know that it'll require me to develop a dedicated creative practice while also committing a lot of time, sweat, tears, blood (hopefully not), and experiences to my craft. One day perhaps I'll have built something as amazing what Carla Sozanni has created.