I first came to the Peter Nappi studio when the good folks at Ledbury had their pop up shop in their space. I was mesmerized by it from the moment I drove up to it. Their studio is tucked away in the Germantown neighborhood in an old pump house. You can feel the history of it as soon as you drive up. Inside they have an amazing mix of antiques that are for sale and of course some of the most well made shoes you can find. Across the street they also have another space full of unique antiques which you can see at the end of the photo series.
Were there any challenges with the space:
The space had been vacant for 40 years before we moved in, so you can imagine what we were up against. It was originally the boiler room of a huge meat packing plant, and the pumps housed in our space were anchored into the ground on 4-by-5-foot concrete piers—about eight of them. Getting them out and leveling the floor was a huge undertaking. We ended up pouring more than a half foot of concrete. And then of course we needed bathrooms, lighting, electricity...it was six months of hard labor. Actually, I can’t believe it didn’t take longer.
The history and evolution of Peter Nappi:
I come from a line of Italian shoemakers dating back to the 1800's. In 1904, my grandfather Peter Nappi immigrated to the United States from Tuscany, bringing the family tradition with him. He was loved as much for his generous spirit and dedication to family and friends as he was for his incredible craftsmanship. I’m continually inspired by what he stood for, and by the way he approached both life and work. In 2009, in honor of him, my wife and I officially launched the Peter Nappi brand and opened our flagship location in Nashville. Everything we design is handmade in Italy.
How did the idea of selling everything in the store come around:
We figured we'd outfit our space with authentic, unique pieces that spoke to the same aesthetic as our line, and make them available to people who were interested. We just couldn’t imagine using pressed plywood display shelving to showcase something we put our hearts and soles into (pun intended). Everything in the Studio had to have the same depth of character as our footwear.
Where do you source your things:
Before we opened, we went to Les Puces and brought back a container. Since then, we've built relationships that allow us to keep our showroom fresh and offer a wide assortment of pieces from Italy, Sweden, France, and Belgium as well as the US.
Where does your design inspiration come from and how do you stay inspired:
We find our inspiration everywhere! Travels with family, a conversation with a colleague, browsing design blogs, or just going out for a run. I think the trick is to consistently take three steps back and ask the big picture questions that guide your brand. For us, they’re “is this authentic? Is it timeless? Does it have character?"
Nashville seems to be a hotbed of creative talent right now. Everything from clothes to food - it seems something new pops up every day. It’s an amazing energy to have around you, and we're thrilled to be a part of it. The brand we're most excited about is Nashville itself (the city, not the TV show). Five years ago, when you talked to anyone about Nashville, they'd instantly think country music or fried chicken—not that either of those are bad things, but it was a pretty one dimensional image. Now you mention Nashville and, yes, people think of country music, but also great rock music like the Black Keys, Kings of Leon, and Jack White. People think of fried chicken but also of amazing James Beard-level chefs like Tandy Wilson, Tyler Brown and Sean Brock. Having all this talent in a very personable, community-centric town is bound to lead to some amazing things. We always say a rising tide carries all boats. It’s definitely hide tide in Nashville.
Favorite place to eat in Nashville:
City House, Rolf and Daughters, Mas Tacos, Josephine's, Pinewood Social, Catbird Seat, Husk, Burger Up, Marche...theres so many incredible places you could eat at a new great place everyday for a month.
What are you reading now:
Every morning, Dana and I both read from Jon Courson's Application Commentary. No better way to start the day. Also WWD and FN (trade pubs) and New York Magazine. Just started Richard Branson's Like a Virgin.
Favorite place you guys have traveled and where would you want to travel to:
Italy, of course. We're creatures of habit - we like to visit the same places. Each time you get to know things a little more intimately. You feel a little more at home. You get more immersed in the culture, the people, the "realness" of the place. Dana's been wanting to go to Pantelleria - a tiny volcanic island between Sicily and Africa - ever since I met her. I’m sure someday we'll venture there.
Who would be on a playlist for the shop:
Robert Francis, RL Burnside, Fleet Foxes, Louis Armstrong, Jessie Baylin, Leagues, Dean Martin… We like to mix it up.