Montserrat Alvarez | September 11, 2023

The Monday Media Diet with Montserrat Alvarez

Recommended Products

Chiesa Rossa di Milano: l'installazione permanente di Dan Flavin
Chiesa Rossa di Milano: l'installazione permanente di Dan Flavin

An incredible book about artist interventions in sacred places.

Monserrat Alvarez (MA) is the founder of Heimat Atlantica, a brand we heard about last year and find super interesting. We’re pleased to have her thoughtful and creative perspective on the page today. -Colin (CJN).

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Montserrat. I grew up in Pontevedra, a small fishing town on the Atlantic coast of Spain. I moved to Rome when I was 19 years old to study Art History and Fashion at the Sapienza University; at the time, I understood that the most interesting projects came from the intersection of different disciplines. After Rome, I moved to Paris to get a master’s degree in architecture history at the Sorbonne. I started a Phd – focusing on role of architecture in building the corporate image of a luxury fashion brand - which I never ended up finishing because I was recruited to be Director of Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec’s furniture design studio. I ended up living in Paris for 13 years.

In 2016, I decided to launch my own project, a cultural and fashion brand called Heimat Atlantica. We work to preserve and highlight unique know-hows that are disappearing while we bring them to the contemporary. Our aim is to try to invent while preserving what is good and beautiful in the world, taking local traditions and crafts as the starting point. Our first product was a talisman bag that helps you to find Love. 

Describe your media diet. 

My media diet consists of:

Daily “Business of Fashion” and “McKinsey Business” newsletters.

I also read Spanish daily newspapers, both the left-leaning one and the right-leaning one. I love reading the same story from two opposing perspectives. It allows me to compose a somewhat objective view and it often amuses me.

I also love buying books in museum stores (the Prada foundation has fantastic publications). The last ones I read was Dan Flavin per Santa Maria in Chiesa Rossa; an incredible book about artist interventions in sacred places and Love Stories by Francesco Vezzoli.

What’s the last great book you read?

I love ALL books. Not only ones to read but also the ones with just images.

 I literally have more than a thousand books and I love spending time browsing through them; they bring me to other realities. I think I have a real addiction, because when learn about a book I do not have, until I buy it I have the feeling that if I do not own this particular one, I will miss out on something very incredible happening inside!

The last great book I read is Travels with Virginia Woolf. There are many reasons we read, I read to discover and to lose myself into new realities. 

My husband Petar and I just moved from NYC to Geneva, and our professional lives are quite busy these days, so we haven’t had time to travel for leisure, so I was happy to travel through Virginia Woolf’s eyes through Europe and another epoque. 

What are you reading now?

The Beauty of Everyday Objects by Soetsu Yanagi, the Japanese philosopher and art critic. Yanagi was the founder of  folk-art movement in Japan in the 1920’s. The book speaks about the ability of everyday objects to bring beauty. These objects, which are our companions, create a sort of ritual moment in our daily life. Thus, they deserve to be treated with the most of respects, from a functional and aesthetics point of view. Many times, their shape is the result of the collective intelligence, they have an honesty and poesy in their presence that brings an indescribable pleasure. 

What’s your reading strategy when you pick up a print copy of your favorite publication?

I love paper; whether it be magazines, newspapers or books. Our apartment is filled with piles and piles of magazines, current and past. When it comes to reading them, I wouldnt really call it a “strategy”. From the moment that I pick up a copy of one my favorite magazine the tension of expectation starts building. I think it is fair to say that I am somewhat obsessive with all things which interest me, and reading is no exception. The moment I am able to sit down and open the magazine up I typically first manically wander through the pages looking for things that excite me. I always photocopy or scan and then print paragraphs and images which I like and create a collage around me in my home or workshop. I love the feeling of being physically surrounded by ideas.

Who should everyone be reading that they’re not?

Seneca, Ciceron and Platon, their lessons are pre-Christian and you can realize what civic orientation society should be headed to. Their lessons are still valid, they are basic principles of coexistence and personal fulfillment that we all need to be reminded of. 

What is the best non-famous app you love on your phone? 

I am actually a little afraid of phone and find them invasive. I do not have a hard time limiting my use of them. 

Having said that, I am currently pregnant and expecting a baby girl in October and so I have downloaded 3 different pregnancy apps that show you how your baby is developing inside you, etc. This, I have to admit, I am very obsessive about and find myself looking at all 3 apps multiple times daily. 

Plane or train?

Train, any day of the week. I love the ability to discover the world through the big windows, looking at the landscapes and towns. We now live in Switzerland, in the middle of Europe, which makes taking the train a pretty spectacular way to travel.

I must say though, I love the feeling of not being reachable while flying. It is almost like a break from reality that allows me to be alone with a magazine, a book or often just with my thoughts.

What is one place everyone should visit? 

The bottom of the ocean. I think that everyone should go under water at some point as there is no other place on this Earth that makes us realize and understand that there are whole completely foreign worlds around us which we do not see and creatures which we share this planet with. It hopefully awakens the awareness for the need for conservation and protecting this home of ours. It is also the only place where we humans can feel like we are flying, which is an incredible feeling.

Tell us the story of a rabbit hole you fell deep into. 

The other aspect to mobile phones which I do like, is Wikipedia. I tend to go down rabbit holes often and Wikipedia with its links in the text is the perfect enabler. I guess this is my somewhat obsessive nature. I’ll stay wake until 1 am going deep. In addition to art, architecture and fashion I love history and have had many long nights going deep into subjects like the Knights Templar, for example. However, the most recent one started with amazing Japanese landscape architect Mirei Shigemori. Which then took me to the traditional art of ikebana and then to primitive modernism in Japan with Isamu Noguchi (whose art and design move me) and Kenzo Tange, going back to arts from prehistoric periods in Japan.

What I love about Noguchi, Shigemori, Tange, as well as Tadao Ando and others, is that they are able to bring traditional crafts, techniques, aesthetic codes and languages in to a contemporary context, which is what I am trying to do with my project. (MA).

Thanks for reading,

Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN) & Monserrat (MA)

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