Fabiana Fierotti and Yara de Nicola just launched the 6th issue of their bi-annual publication Alla Carta. During this year’s Salone del Mobile they’ve opened a pop-up magazine shop. We went there to pick up the latest issue and hear their story.
Tell us your backgrounds.
Yara: We are both originally from Palermo in Sicily. I studied architecture in Rome, then moved to London until I got sick of it and moved to Milan, which was a relief. I’ve been here for 5 years now and it’s an amazing place.
Fabiana: I studied literature in Palermo, but moved here after my first year. During 8 years in Milan I have been working as a fashion journalist and stylist. Yara and I met through my husband who is a good friend of hers.
How did you start Alla Carta?
Fabiana: I was working for the big magazines and missed the creative control of being independent. I always wanted to start a publication and really liked Yara’s sense of aesthetics, so we put our minds together. We had some money saved up and were naive enough to do it.
Yara: Someone asked us about our business plan, to which we responded “what’s that?”. But it worked out fine without.
Do you travel a lot?
We mainly go to London and Paris when launching new issues, but we’re now starting to travel more to other places. When starting out we really wanted to make Milan a big influence on our work, so we always invited contributors here to show our city. Usually you just email people but for us it was important that they got to know our world.
How many people are in your editorial and creative team?
We are the founders and creative directors. We work together with two art directors, Tommaso Garner and Daniel Sansavini. Our graphic designer, Matteo Pastorio works with us on a daily basis and he’s really good at everything from design to photography. Then we also have our design editor, Enrico Pompili. Other than that there are contributors and freelancers.
How does your process work when creating a new issue?
We start with a meeting to establish a main theme. This can be the silliest and craziest thing, but it changes and evolves during the way. Then we ask what our contributors say, to get their input and make them feel like they’re doing personal projects and not just commercial work. We always try to keep away from season trends.
What are the benefits of making a bi-annual printed publication, rather than a digital format?
It’s all about the effort you put in. If you make a mistake – it’s there. But above all it’s something to be proud of. A printed publication is a collectible item that people want to keep. You don’t consume the content by just scrolling on a screen. It seems like online is the only possible medium these days and it’s good for daily news or inspiration, but it can’t beat the feeling of holding a well-crafted publication in your hands.
Do you have any major influences?
Yara: What keeps me going is the happiness of creating good work, rather than a specific person or subject. We want to find new influences for each issue instead of being stuck in a period or aesthetics.
How would you say that Milan influences the magazine?
Fabiana: It’s the only Italian city where you get contemporary influences from the rest of Europe. Sure it’s very Italian but with a higher pace and a lot more going on. It is very commercial so in the beginning we struggled a bit as an independent magazine.
What is the most common feedback that you get?
Usually something like “nice paper quality”, “good photos”, “interesting interviews”. But also “why Alla Carta?”
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far?
Be present! This is something we’re still learning. You need to go to events and grow your network by talking to people and exchanging ideas. No one will just come knocking on your door. Also, you need to be naive enough to dare, but be aware that this is a business.
What’s the future for Alla Carta?
We want to keep improving in every way possible. Become more commercial to sell more magazines, but with balance so we keep an interesting and independent profile.
In September we started doing creative consultancy for all kinds of clients. Our projects include everything from branding for a ceramic brand, set design, photography and video. It’s constantly changing and something we’re really excited about.
Text and photography by Fredrik Gruber