FLOWERS, MUSIC AND ENTHUSIASM
Rosalba Piccinni is resourceful, energetic and engaging. A talented singer and passionate florist – hence her nickname “The Singing Florist” – she has taken her passions, nurtured them with courage and determination, and turned them into an original and eclectic professional and artistic career. A lover of company and all forms of beauty, Rosalba owns four flower shops and her latest one, which opened in 2015, is a shining example of her sophisticated versatility. Potafiori is a flower shop-cum-bistro in Milan and its name reveals the Bergamo origins of this fascinating woman. Here you can listen to music and meet people as you enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner surrounded by gorgeous bouquets and plant arrangements, and one evening a week it becomes a jazz club. A truly rich, refreshing and perfect fusion that is the result of a lifetime of hard work and a profound love which the Singing Florist has never given up on. Her dream of becoming a singer is deeply rooted in her, it is something she has literally always wanted to be. Although she started working very young – at the tender age of thirteen – Rosalba has always performed in piano bars throughout Italy, later training as an apprentice in a flower shop which she later took over, turning it into her first creative workshop. Famous for its minimal and highly original flower arrangements wrapped in natural fabrics, Fiori caters to all its customers’ needs with an attention to detail that is next to none, whether they be decorating a private space or a large event and music is always present. This winning combination led to the opening of a second shop in Milan, a third in Bergamo Alta and then POTAFIORI. Thanks to her insatiable appetite for new ideas and her enthusiasm, Rosalba has quickly established herself as the place to go to when organising evenings and events, including surprise romantic serenades. It looks like the Singing Florist has found herself a second home in the capital of fashion and design and a way of expanding her business. We met her at POTAFIORI where she explained to us just how she was going to do it.
– This combination conveys great vitality, the same vitality that comes across in your music and your flower arrangements. POTAFIORI is an example of the contamination of different worlds that are actually surprisingly close, a celebration of beauty and expertise. And of a sense of warmth and welcoming that is very Italian. And we’re in Milan, so it was inevitable to find a bit of design in this incredible mixture…
Often the ideas I come up with don’t actually exist so, since I am easy-going but also complex and very demanding, I decided with my artistic team to make the most of our talent and personalise our products.
This has given rise, for example, to our aprons made out of William Morris fabrics, or our plates by Richard Ginori which are decorated with pictures of our flowers and leaves, a great symbol of Italian style. Here design is not only a furnishing accessory. It is a living, breathing part of us. It speaks the same language as my creations.
– Going back to flowers, we know you love geraniums which grew on your balcony where you were a child and which represent that authenticity you convey to people. Does a woman who is so versatile, elegant and energetic as you have a favourite flower or, maybe the opposite, a flower she does not like?
I love simple flowers and I adore combining them with more absurd, complex and difficult ones. Because I love contrast and improvising. I create my arrangements depending on what I have. Just like a chef decides what to cook according to the fresh ingredients he has to hand. I take a branch or a wilting flower that you would otherwise throw away, and I make it live on in my creations.
I love all flowers, especially wild ones like daisies and poppies. I love picking them and arranging them because they are spontaneous. A bit like me…
– What principles do you live by? What inspires you in your research?
Knowledge is everything. If you have knowledge and know how to use it, it can be an outlet for your creativity. A golden rule which I try to live by is “less is more”. This allows me to create that contrast I love. Similarly, using natural, untreated, poor materials like iron and cement can enhance my arrangements with their simplicity, creating a contrast.
– The gardening expert, Chris Beardshaw, says that music is important to help plants grow and, to prove it, he carried out a series of experiments with his pupils using alstroemeria plants. He’s not the only one who thinks that musical melodies and harmonious acoustic vibrations in general can positively stimulate plants and flowers. What do you think? Is music therapeutic for people who listen to it and make it?
I totally agree because plants are alive, they absorb, they live through light and nature can feel, of course it can. Music, being art, is catharsis, it is an expressive channel where everything flows, joy and sorrow.
– On the subject of music, which has been a part of you ever since you were a child, could you tell us something about your musical tastes and how they evolved before you realised your love of jazz? Did it hit you in adolescence? This love that lives on and has influenced you so much?
The national radio station was always on in our house because my father loved listening to it; I grew up to the strains of Ella Fitzgerald and Billy Holiday, but I listed to Italian music too, which I went on to adapt to jazz.
– Which song do you wish you’d written?
Imagine by John Lennon.
– Who would you like to sing with?
Mina, because she’s a real legend, both as an artist and a woman. And she’s got an amazing voice.