We all remember the final scene of the movie “Falling in Love” at Rizzoli with Robert de Niro and Meryl Streep. New Yorkers seem to have a true love affair with Rizzoli. How did it all start?
Rizzoli’s history is great. It was founded in 1964 by Angelo Rizzoli, an Italian printing and publishing tycoon, who was the founder of popular Italian magazines and Italian paperbacks.
Marco Ausenda: In Italy, he owned a chain of beautiful bookshops. In 1964, Rizzoli decided to expand his business abroad, opening his first, iconic bookshop on Fifth Avenue in New York. The bookshop specialized in art books imported from Italy but also sold newspapers from all over the world making it an important point of reference for expats, managers and diplomats living in the city. It successively developed into a chain of fourteen bookshops, but due to profound changes in the bookselling market, we had to downsize the business to one flagship bookshop which is this one now on 1133 Broadway.
The relocation of Rizzoli in the NoMad District has been widely discussed. How did the transition take place?
Bookstores and art galleries are the two elements which contribute to making a neighborhood become really cool and attractive.
M.A. We are very happy to have chosen this location. We moved here in 2015. The new bookshop retains all the characteristics of the original one on 57th street, such as the chandeliers, the architectural elements which were chosen by Angelo Rizzoli himself which have been blended with some new elements like the Fornasetti murals. The NoMad neighborhood wasn’t quite there yet. There is no question that with the opening of new high-end hotels, restaurants, and retailers, the NoMad District is really booming.
Livia Senic-Matuglia: NoMad is a business-oriented neighborhood but it is also touristic and residential so we decided to keep our identity as a bookshop specialized in Fashion – Illustrated Architecture and Interior Design books while simultaneously maintaining an active dialogue with the other communities around us.
NoMad is a very dynamic neighborhood with lots of architects, designers and all the people working in the nearby Chelsea Arts District.
How do you interact with the neighborhood?
L.S.M. We don’t want to just sell books. We want to create experiences so people can come here to actually be enriched not only by the books but by all the cultural experiences we are able to offer them. Almost everyday, we have events in the bookshop, not just regular book signing, but conversations, book parties, sometimes jazz concerts. I truly believe in warm experiences around culture.
This space is not a regular bookshop, it is a sort of cathedral of culture.
How do you translate the international character of Rizzoli?
L.S.M Rizzoli is an Italian company owned by Mondadori Group and has a strong Italian identity. The Italian community in New York has changed quite a bit and a good example is Eataly next door. Furthermore, it is important for us to strengthen our connections with the new Italian community. We started working to create a sort of Italian cultural festival where people who are passionate about Italian culture and all the Italian residents can engage with Italian culture in our bookshop.
Your wish for the future?
L.S.M. My dream for the Rizzoli bookshop is to grow with our community, to be part of this neighborhood and to have people coming here every day looking for books and an opportunity to enjoy cultural experiences with us.