How A Printing Company Decided To Tell The History Of Milan Through Shop fronts

“Shop signs that are more than signatures or representations: they are proud proclamations of leadership, or at least talent”, and this is why Venice based printing company, Pixartprinting, started the art project, Milan Re-Tale.


Lines of shops can often blend into one another, hiding the personalities behind the artist, designer, architect or other creative. A shop front doesn’t need to just be a formality, it could be the first page to the story: an intriguing insight into the brand and the city, the character behind it and an aesthically pleasing addition to the atmosphere of the street.

After the project had been set in motion, Pixartprinting contacted artist Marco Valmarana, a photographer from Venice, to help them capture their vision of bringing old traditions and inanimate objects to life. From old confectionery and chocolatier’s to kiosks and jewelry stores, shops and businesses all over the city began to change the way they viewed their ‘signs’.


“We learned about persistence, pride, passion, respect and dignity. About good grace, wisdom, humour, hope and irony. About fatalism, resistance, stories from the past and visions for the future”, say Pixartprinting when describing the project. Of course shops are a business but that doesn’t mean there is no personality there. Nothing exists without a story behind it and thanks to this unique and thoughtful project, some of these stories have begun to be told.

We spoke to the people behind the printing about the project and the city they love so much.

The Plus: Is this an on-going project?
We have just published the article Milan re-tale. In fact you can read the content in 5 languages: Spanish, Italian, English, French and German.
Our goal with the creation of these pieces of content is to satisfy our target’s interests (they are designers, architects, artists, creatives) offering them an interesting and original vision of a topic.


TP: Why did Pixart create the story?
The project was born with the idea of “giving voice” to the traditional places from Milan to recuperate the know-how, the creativity and the esthetics values from the past.
The modern city of Milan also has a rich and traditional past; and, there is a connection with the present. We spoke to each place that took part in the project to learn about the highlights of their business, their subject, the things that were curious about them.


TP: What is Pixart’s view on a city’s identity?
The identity of a city is formed by all the individual and institutional creations. The typography, the architecture, the design of the city in general, its publics communications, its sign shops, etc. All these ingredients are part of the identity of a place. In the case of Milan re-tale we wanted to explore the contribution of these historical locals to the atmosphere of the city.


TP: Will Pixart continue exploring the same topic in the other cities?
We have interesting projects and ideas in process. It is possible that we continue exploring the same thing in other cities. Actually we would love it.


TP: How was the collaboration with the photographer?
When we had defined the project and the idea of the kind of picture we wanted to show, we contacted to Marco Valmarana. Looking at his artwork, we thought he could do a great job and now, with the results, we are satisfied for this decision.