Back in February 2017 the Renata Kevi brand’s first collection launched, based on original ocean-world-inspired paintings by her. These were initially available on her site where she offered a variety of luxury fashion and interior design accessories made from silk twill in Italy.
Here, we spent some time with her to find out more about the journey from here…
When did you launch the brand and what was the reason behind it?
The brand name, Renata Kevi, was born in 2010. It was indeed a very prolific year, when I painted my first collection of ocean and sea world-inspired large-format oil paintings that travelled to around twenty solo and group exhibitions in European galleries. I was delighted that many of those art pieces ended up on the walls of art collectors across Europe. Some of those paintings still live with me at my studio and gallery in Rome. Renata Kevi is my artistic name. The idea to launch a British retail company and a label of luxury fashion and interior design made in Italy emerged in 2015. It felt like a natural progression – I aspired to make my art and design more accessible to everyone by transposing my artistic style onto everyday life objects and wearable textiles. Me and my brother, the biggest fan and supporter of my artistry, put our heads and talents together to establish the brand that aims to inspire beauty and elegance in everyone’s daily life. From the outset we have positioned ourselves as an international label simply because we live, work, design, market and sell in different countries. Although we aim to appeal globally, our brand identity is consciously European.
What’s your background?
Our brand has two founders – me and my brother, Rolandas. I am a painter and designer. First and foremost, I learnt a lot of traditional crafts, like woodwork, metalwork, leatherwork, knitting, or sowing, from my grandparents, parents and extracurricular tutors. It runs deep in our family as mother’s relatives are mostly artists. I also advanced my skills in painting and various crafts at the school of arts in my city. I have employed some, if not all, of my artistic prowess in my latest artwork and product design. After high school graduation, I pursued studies in advertising, interior, furniture and product design at premier art and design education institutions in Lithuania, such as Vilnius College of Technologies and Design and Vilnius Academy of Arts. My last alma mater is the European Design Institute (IED) in Rome. I have acquired some of the most relevant expertise in design at Lithuanian and Danish design companies where I learnt most about textiles, merchandising, sales, product and display design.
My brother Rolandas is a historian and now political scientist. However, he spent a decade in the world of design and architecture working for award-winning American and British firms. His polyglotism, worldwide travel, cosmopolitan lifestyle and international education and work experience have been invaluable in launching our company.
How many people are involved in the company and what are their roles?
We are a family company – it’s only me and my brother at this point. I am the principal artist and designer. My brother is in charge of strategy, management and international relations. However, we also draw upon our international friends’ expertise in photography, marketing and graphic design.
If you could start over with the business, would you do anything differently?
No. We have just launched, so an unpredictable and thrilling journey is only ahead of us!
What is the hardest challenge you have faced since you started the company?
Being a company of only two, you have to learn a lot and fast! Instinct, creativity and flexibility are truly indispensable to meet any challenge that arises on a daily basis.
Tell us one fact about you that people wouldn’t know?
Neither me, nor my brother worked in the ‘fashion world’. We are true newbies! Equally daunting and exciting!
2017 is here, where do you plan on taking the brand?
We would like to enlarge the assortment of our accessories, employ a wider range of our technical skills, utilise new exciting textiles and create unpredictable and versatile designs. We are launching our newest accessories’ collection in British VOGUE’s January 2018 issue. The collection has consumed numerous hours of research, discussion and experiment. We are looking forward to this exciting event!
To date, what has been the highlight since launching?
For us, the highlight was an immediate interest in our silk accessories from private clients and fashion magazines, even though we have just launched. This is a gratifying recognition that we are doing something right and can inspire style as well as succeed in business.
Which city do you feel most at home in, London, Paris or New York?
I don’t have a strong preference for either. They are all unique in their own way. To me, London feels most vibrant, multicultural, multilingual place where fashion and finance or arts and sciences forge creative collaborative platforms, where buzz on streets and tranquillity in parks seamlessly co-exist, the city that breathes openness, innovation and ambition. These are qualities that resonate with my personality.
Three beauty products you can’t leave the house without?
Hermes Eau de Rhubarbe Ecarlate fragrance, Chanel transparent lip gloss and Vuitton powder palette.
Looking at ‘style’ from an intellectual perspective gives me most satisfaction. I define style as a glimmer, flash or explosion of human aesthetic energy and creativity that lasts shorter or longer in an ever flowing passage of time. Some styles become enduring models, such as momentous artefacts of Egyptian art, others instantly fade into obscurity. The style that lasts and is continuously rediscovered and reinterpreted is the one that has a broad social uptake, enjoys a deep cultural impact and is well recorded for future reincarnations. I think most successful artists do not create style consciously. They do what they love, employing every skill and talent they possess, and style is a result of that.
Best thing about London to you?
Museums and galleries: V&A, Tate Modern, the British Museum and Saatchi Gallery are my favourites, where I have enjoyed spending hours browsing, observing, sketching, taking notes on and admiring contemporary and antique art from all over the world for my paintings, fashion and interior design collections.
Statement shoe or statement bag?
Both. Being artist and designer, I appreciate statement shoes as much as statement handbags. I enjoy embellishing my handbags with colourful hand-painted designs.
If you had to, what piece of clothing from your wardrobe would you wear everyday?
A jacket. I have a big collection of jackets for every occasion. Light pastel jackets for hot Italian summers and darker colour jackets for cooler autumns and winters.
Favourite love song?
Currently, I am obsessed with Lana del Rey’s Young and Beautiful for its melancholic beauty and Adele’s Send My Love for her bold voice and striking visual performance. Nevertheless, Whitney Houston’s song I Will Always Love You is an enduring classic to me.
Best place for a coffee?
It depends on where I am in the world. I have recently tried some fabulous brews at Momoichi in Prague’s Vinohrady district, Tazzo D’Oro near Rome’s Pantheon, and Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, just off London’s Carnaby Street.
Most memorable piece of advice given to you?
‘Whatever skill you learn, whatever knowledge you gain, whatever experience you accumulate, they will come back to help you in life!’ And that came to be true. My skills in arts and crafts I learnt from grandparents, parents, and universities, my Italian and English language lessons, my experience in design and art, all of that has immensely helped me in life, work and current business.
Pistachio gelato. Top it with some exotic fruit and I am happy!
If you could spend 24 hours in anywhere in the world, where would it be?
South Pacific islands. I have an enduring love affair with oceans and you can see that in my art. I live in Rome, ‘the Eternal City’, where I have daily opportunities to indulge in some of the most memorable cultural experiences or savour culinary delights. However, 24 hours on a sandy beach, surrounded by palm trees and soaking in the sun recharges, invigorates and inspires me most. As a rule, I spend every August near the sea, either Adriatic, Tyrrhenian, or Mediterranean.
In future, how do you plan on expanding the company?
We are working on showcasing our ever-growing collection of products at design fairs and establishing our physical presence at boutique shops in a handful of countries.
Find out more…
Our website www.renatakevi.com, instagram: @renatakevi, or Google search for Renata Kevi.