Today I wanted to share a great find with you guys. Just99 is a small Italian company that was launched in late 2014 but the products are now available in the UK and the founders have plans to expand into the rest of Europe. It was founded by husband and wife Carlo Piemonte and Marzena Ciesielka. Marzena was raised in Krakow, Poland, and studied architecture in Italy and Carlo has years of experience in the business of Italian interior design. Together they source beautiful interiors products from independent designers and then produce them in Italy. What makes the company so special is the exclusivity of the limited edition interior accessories. As the name suggests, only 99 of each product is made, ensuring that the buyer has something special and interesting they can display in their home, but one that very few other people will have. Each item bears an individual number – from 99 counting down to 01 – and comes complete with certification that verifies artisan product authenticity and showcasing the research and passion that goes into each product. Once each edition is sold out, it will not be replicated. You would expect a hefty price tag for such exclusivity but luckily that is not the case. I wanted to find out a little bit more about Just99 and luckily Carlo and Marzena agreed to answer some questions.
Where did the inspiration for Just99 come from?
MC. Travelling around the world to visit my friends, I realised that many people have beautiful objects in their houses, but that they are often identical, regardless whether we are living in Venice, Oslo or London. In Europe, we are fortunate to be able to purchase such products from large retailers at affordable prices, but they do not communicate the character and mystery of their owners. That was the starting point for me, along with my love for everything design-related, and it motivated me to launch JUST99; an e-commerce site with an international twist, offering limited edition items that allow us to reveal our individual style, setting our homes apart.
Can you tell us a bit more about Just99?
CP. JUST99 is a fascinating and ambitious project, aimed primarily at the European market but using the international language of design. With our products, we want to ensure that art-lovers everywhere can add the finishing touch to their homes with special pieces, hand-crafted by Italian artisans, interpreting the ‘Made in Italy’ ethos in their own way. We want to put the focus back on quality, over quantity, while also providing the opportunity for design-lovers to access beautiful, Italian-handmade products at an accessible price point. The enthusiasm and positivity we have experienced with the launch in Italy has been overwhelming and we look forward to opening up JUST99 to an audience of British design-aficionados.
How do you find the designers that you work with?
MC. There are many ways to unearth new talent. Ideally, we like to attend events being held around Europe where independent designers will be exhibiting their products. That way we can get to meet a diverse range of talent face to face and create a personal relationship with them. We are always on the look-out for product designers, photographers, graphic designers and artists, and this is an ongoing process. In fact, we believe that many products evolve from a meeting of minds from the various professions. For example, our Mountain in Deep Blue is the result of a collaboration between the talent of designer Giorgia Zanellato and the graphic expertise of Silvia Zaccaria.
You have all of your products made in Italy. Is there a specific reason for this?
CP. We live in Italy and as such appreciate the quality of the producers we appoint that fuses well with the vision of the artists. For all JUST99 products, we want to have a relationship with those that are creating them, so we can trust the quality. Every single person who is working for us in this project is passionate about what they are doing, and demonstrate a keen eye for detail. Each of our producers is part of the JUST99 family rather than part of a production line and we speak to them on a daily basis. We feel JUST99 has an ‘international soul’ and we want to attract clients who appreciate the juxtaposition between Italian tradition and contemporary, international style.
Your products are currently available in Italy and the UK. Do you have plans to expand into other European markets?
MC. Our focus is on Europe as a whole. Despite the difference between nations, we believe Europe and its people share many commonalities, similarities of culture and style. There are huge opportunities throughout the continent and our plan is to reach out beyond the UK into Northern and Western Europe.
What can we expect to see from Just99 in the coming months?
CP. We are currently developing a line of fashion accessories which we are very excited about. Like our other products, we are working with a select group of independent designers and of course only 99 of each item will be available. Over the years, we have met a number of high profile international designers who have embraced the JUST99 concept, which is extremely flattering, and we are currently developing new products with some of these famous names – watch this space!
So what do you think? As always, let me know in the comments below!