It was Robert Browning—not Miles van der Rohe—who coined the term “less is more.” Likewise, it was Common Projects, not the various pretenders who have followed their lead, who were first to put the maxim into practice for sneakers.
As a high five to the Italian shoemakers, we revisit our interview with Common Projects founder Flavio Girolami and Prathan Poopat from Human Being Journal issue 5, “Babel.” We caught up with both on opposite sides of the Atlantic: Prathan in New York City and Flavio in his hometown of San Benedetto del Tronto.
For well over a decade now, Girolami and Poopat, two friends with a knack for making nice things, have run Common Projects. The pair has an enviable creative energy, and even though they spend the majority of every year on separate continents, they continue to design every collection collaboratively. Early on, they made the decision to set up production in Flavio’s native Italy, drawn in by the local shoemaking saper-fare and abundance of superlative materials. Fourteen years on, it’s hard to argue with the result.
In keeping with its Italian-American DNA, everything the brand makes is both sartorial and street: a pair of Common Projects is an evergreen wardrobe pillar immune to fickle menswear trends. They’ve expanded the original line accordingly to include more formal shoe models, variations on the original sneakers, and boots. A few years ago, the brand also started to make a few women’s models—apparently thanks to the requests of customers’ girlfriends eager for a pair of Common Projects of their own-and now produce a full women’s line. They’ve also grown the brand through seasonal collaborations and have amassed a list of limited-edition co-productions.
Flavio Giroliami, Common Projects: Italy
Hometown: San Benedetto del Tronto, Marche Italy.
Residence: San Benedetto del Tronto and New York City.
Drink of choice: Negroni or Spritz depending on the time of the day.
Favorite meal: I love food and I love to eat. I really enjoy international “cuisine,” but my favorite meal is my grandmother's cannelloni, a traditional dish from the Marche region, consisting of meat and veggies rolled inside handmade pasta then baked in the oven with her secret tomato sauce, aged parmigiano and fresh mozzarella. Fortunately, she taught me how to make them.
Favorite sandwich: Mozzarella di bufala and anchovies.
How do you take your coffe? Espresso. Black.
Primary mode of transport: Bicycle/airplane
“I choose quality before image and I believe in what Mies said—less really is more. They say I am a control freak. Maybe it’s true.”
“I try to avoid describing CP. Who wants to give a label to his own baby?”
Prathan Poopat, Common Projects: New York
Hometown: Detroit, Michigan
Residence: New York City
Drink of choice: Stoli, soda, lime.
Favorite meal: I like everything. Although, now it's summer, so usually something light.
Favorite sandwich: Soprassata/salami, provolone, virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, basil.
How do you take your coffee? Cortado, touch of sugar.
Primary mode of transport: It ranges from vintage three-speed to Vespa to motorbike, or the wagon. Depending on the day could be none or all.