Take Milan Design Week, three haute hostesses, plus armfuls of La DoubleJ’s print-punching homeware, wait for the clock to strike 7pm, and what do you get? A molto magnifico Milanese aperitivo party, ragazze. That’s exactly what happened earlier this month when the flower arranging genius and Domino magazine’s chief content editor, Kate Berry, and NYC’s Hello Human PR whizz and does-it-all woman, Jenny Nguyen, came to play with La DoubleJ’s heart-pumping new homeware at J.J.’s Milano casa.
Showing these glorious goddesses how Italians really like to party was all in celebration of the much anticipated return of Milan Design Week, where naturally we flung open the doors of our Via Sant’Andrea flagship to the world’s press and buyers in typical LDJ style. Yes, there were windows filled with spirit animals designed by the incredible artist JoAnn Tann. Yes, we turned our Sacred Grotta into an illuminated bat cave. Yes, our latest joy-jolting, print-punching homeware collection was on display. And yes, we threw a gigantissima party with LDJ’s most legendary of ladies and gentlest of men.
To wrap it all up we invited Kate and Jenny around to J.J.’s to master the art of the Italian tradition that we love more than Pepper the pug loves stinco bones and is more fabulous than an all-inclusive yacht vacation around Capri: the aperitivo. What does J.J. love most about this sacred unwritten law? “Honestly, as a Californian who likes to eat dinner at 7:30 (usually the time aperitivo begins) I just love that I’m being fed at a decent hour.”
After letting our great gorgeous girls loose with a smorgasbord of our 10-piece Aperitivo Collection, Bubble Vases, Tablecloths, Rainbow Glasses and more, we summoned the rest of Milan’s devilishly merrymaking design community to soak in the good vibes. Wanna recreate an equally stupendissmo soirée in your own home? Here’s what you should know…
“The Italian aperitivo is not about a few poor peanuts and some bad chips,” says J.J. “You have your taralli, almonds, pinzimonio, figs, pizzette – I like to keep a humongous hunk of parmigiano in the fridge at all times which you can just pull out and dig into for the next two months. It’s all about generosity and abundance.”
Floral phenom and all round design queen Kate Berry, Chief Creative Officer of Domino, created a tantalizing tabletop centerpiece, blending her innate eye for opulent aesthetics with our high vibe homewares. Pairing our Pineapple vase bursting with begonias with an avalanche of fresh plums, peaches, pears and figs, our pre-supper scene was an ode to Renaissance romanticism… With a high-vibe renegade twist!
Aperitivo calls for serving platters, and lots of them. As J.J. puts it: “One thing they don’t do over here, that they do in America, is to have a cheese board where everything is mixed on one plate. The Italians don’t do that at all. Everything at an Italian aperitivo has its own place – the cheese is on one plate, the crackers are on another, the olives have their own dedicated bowl – an Italian would never mix their olives with their cheese.”
“Aperitivos tend to be quite classic here, with taralli (small, round breadsticks), almonds, pinzimonio (fresh cut peppers, cucumbers, carrots etc), and pizzette (bite-sized mini pizzas), and always include little nesting bowls with olive oil and just one drop of balsamic vinegar.” Luckily our Aperitivo Collection has you covered right down to a slender, ceramic jar, made especially with grissini in mind.
Keep these items in your pantry or fridge ready for an impromptu party and you won’t regret it, says J.J. “Raw, unsalted almonds, a bag of amazing potato chips (like, artisanal level good), a bag of grissini or taralli. Olives keep well for quite a while, and I like having an all-time favorite on hand like fresh sheep’s milk ricotta. Keeping things simple with fresh figs with mozzarella, sliced to serve, is an easy, but beautiful crowd-pleaser. I love making my homemade hummus too (although I always add garlic, of which the Italians are not fans).”
Let your playlist put the fun in funky. “I love anything by Whitney Houston or 70s funk,” says J.J. “My favorite playlists always include the Bill Withers track, Lovely Day.”
Do as J.J. does and make your glasses count. “I love serving cocktails in unusual glasses, too, like using our extra tall wine glasses as great cocktail vessels, and using our water glasses for serving wine for example. Our colored Rainbow Glasses make for a real visual delight when set up in that way – it’s almost as if they’re their own special piece of decor.”
Undeniably the most important aperitivo ingredients is a fabulous guestlist of your nearest and dearest (and a knock-out outfit to match).
Saluti and thank you to Domino Magazine, Kate Berry, Jenny Nguyen and Hello Human. Photographs by Andrea and Mariela.