Grottini Retail Environments Internship: Jennifer - The First Week

Posted on Thu, Sep 03, 2015 @ 03:30 PM

LIM College has a long tradition of partnering with leading companies throughout all sectors of the fashion and retail industries to provide students with life-changing, real-world work experiences. Jennifer Cohen and Erica Pierson were chosen for a month-long Visual Merchandising internship at Grottini Retail Environments in Porto Recanati, Italy.

by Jennifer Cohen

GrottiniDuring my first full week at Grottini, I began to transition into a part of a team dynamic. I was working alongside and receiving help from Erica Pierson, another LIM College Student and the other employees at the office and reporting back to Keith, the head of design, to get feedback on ideas for actual real world projects. 


I also began to get a feel for what it was like to work with a client that came with a list of wants as well as a list of limitations. When you do a project in school, you can come up with the most elaborate, limitless idea, but when you are working with a client in real life, you have to work with the client to solve problems and build solutions, and to me, that was one of the most exciting factors of this experience. 

Within my first week I began to work with Erica and Keith on a presentation for Butterfly Twist, a women's shoe company. One of my first assignments was to begin fine tuning the presentations that we had previously sent to the people at Butterfly Twist.

Butterfly_Twists_shoesAlthough they had liked the presentations that we had sent to them, there was still a decent amount of feedback and suggestions sent back to us. For me, this was my first experience working with a client and having them look at potential ideas for a project and saying, "Okay this is good, but change all of this."

I think that experiences like this helped me to better understand the reality of working with a client. It is all about expressing your ideas clearly to one another and working together to come up with creative solutions to problems. It is not harsh criticism, but suggestions that one party gives to another so that they can work together and create the best solution.

Grottini Retail Environments Internship: Erica - First Days at the Office

Posted on Thu, Sep 03, 2015 @ 03:11 PM

by Erica Pierson

Erica_Pierson_300My first day on the job at Grottini I arrived at the office around 8:15. I felt a little nervous about where to go and what I would be doing, but definitely very excited for what was to come.

I was introduced to every person that I saw and instantly overwhelmed with Italian names! They sat me down at a desk and for a while I was unsure of what I should be doing so I took the initiative and asked. Keith, the Head of Design, was coming in later that day and he was the one I would be working with directly. (He's also is from the U.S. which made working a lot easier.)

Once Keith arrived he began to brief me on the upcoming projects I would be working on for the month I would be interning at Grottini. The first was creating a shop-in-shop inside of Topshop stores all over the world for the women's shoe company Butterfly Twists 

Butterfly_Twists_GoldButterfly Twists is based out of London and Keith had just gotten back from London that day and was describing to me what the client was looking to achieve. He also mentioned working on marketing banners for the new Customer Collaboration Center that Grottini had just built for the pasta company Barilla. And we discussed the branding of a new company, Intelligent Store.

From that day forward I threw my heart and soul into creating a shop-in-shop for Butterfly Twists, which was our main focus and biggest project. We worked directly with the clients from Butterfly Twists through Skype call meetings where we would get a better feeling of the direction they wanted to go in.

Keith and I, and another LIM College student, Jenifer Cohen, would take the feedback and information from Butterfly Twists and brainstorm creating sketches, renderings, and presentations with inspiration. We had to make sure the designs we were creating would be suitable for Grottini, Topshop, and Butterfly Twists.

The Butterfly Twists project was starting to develop further and we were getting closer to narrowing down all the ideas we had come up with. The client changed the direction they had originally gave us and instead wanted us to focus on three concepts: 

  1. The idea of a sushi conveyor belt for the shoes to travel along
  2. A fun Ferris wheel display for the shoes 
  3. A giant butterfly cage atmosphere for customers to walk into

We took each one of these ideas and brainstormed them separately, creating individual sketches, fixtures, and displays for each concept. Then we created separate PowerPoint presentations and sent them to the client for feedback.

Grottini Retail Environments Internship: Jennifer - Working on a Point of Purchase Display

Posted on Thu, Sep 03, 2015 @ 03:11 PM

by Jennifer Cohen

At Grottini I also began working on the 4-Chetta project. For the 4-Chetta point of purchase display I was challenged to create a 3D model on Google SketchUp that represented what the product was, who the brand was, and what their charitable contribution was. 4-Chetta makes these really cool bracelets which look like actual forks bent into a circular shape and come in bright colors as well as metallics. 4-Chetta also has a charitable selling point that for every purchase they would donate 5% of the profits to a charity to end childhood hunger.


I experimented with many ideas before I chose the final idea. My original idea was to play into the idea of a "High Fashion Flatware," and display the bracelets on an array of wine bottles cut at different heights. I also had the idea to create a custom wine bottle bracelet holder that would suspend in the middle of the glass box display case.

However after brainstorming with Keith, the head of design, we decided that the wine bottle display would be a bit too high end for this product. The colors wouldn’t aesthetically make sense with a display made of fancy-looking wine bottles.

Chetta1From there, we decided to go with a more simple and modern approach to the display and started to circulate around the idea of a white round Japanese style plate that takes up the width of the 1'x1'x6" display box, and rises about three inches high. On this plate will be every color of 4-Chetta bracelets displayed in a way that resembles the logo of the brand.

On the outside of this display would be a panel that displayed both men and women wearing the bracelet, the logo for the brand, and their charity statement. After getting approval of these ideas, the Display Renderers actually took my SketchUp model and imported it into a program that made it look that much more realistic.

Grottini Retail Environments Internship: Jennifer - Castles, Pasta, Customers, Pets and Butterfly Twists

Posted on Thu, Sep 03, 2015 @ 03:11 PM

by Jennifer Cohen

VestignanoOne of fondest memories that Erica and I have of our time spent in Italy was going out to dinner at the restaurant that is on the premises of the Castle that Keith, the Head of Design lives in. The castle was in a town called Vestignano, which was about an hour away from where we had been staying.

All around the castle there were cobblestone walkways and walls that were stories high.The dinner took place in what was once an olive-press room and is now a restaurant that serves 12 courses of the most amazing food in a unique medieval setting. A majority of the ingredients used in the dishes came from local sources and the chef was very eager to tell us all about the dishes.The dinner lasted about four hours and was filled with amazing food and conversation.

During this week we began to create a presentation for the pasta company Barilla's customer collaboration center. Grottini had previously renovated this space and wanted us to come up with unique ways to integrate communication elements.

The inspiration we gathered consisted of ideas like hanging signage, projections onto the floors and walls and greenery that would be placed in organic shaped holders. There were also some decorative elements that we thought could be effective ideas. Some of these included a laser cut lighting fixture that projects an image onto the floor as well as an optical illusion shelving unit who's content disappears as you move perspectives.

ZampettandoThis week we also worked on a presentation for a pet store called Zampettando. This store’s main objective is creating an environment where the animals and customers feel comfortable.

The inspiration we gathered for this space consisted of friendly elements such as pet playgrounds, animal food buffets, underwater themed aquarium spaces and unique washing stations. Keith even began to draw sketches of what he anticipated the spaces would look like, which we also included in the presentation.

We also completed the presentations for Butterfly Twists this week. We went through every page of every presentation to make sure that its contents made sense with the rest of the presentation so we could send it off to the 3D render as inspiration for when he creates models of the spaces.

Grottini Retail Environments Internship: Jennifer - Meeting with Barilla

Posted on Thu, Sep 03, 2015 @ 03:10 PM

by Jennifer Cohen

BarillaI worked on completing the Barilla presentation, as we would be meeting with the people from Barilla later during the week. The Barilla meeting took place at their Customer Collaboration Center in Parma, Italy, which is about three hours away from where we were staying in Porto Recanati.

Upon getting there, we were given a tour of the space as well as a virtual shopping tour in the Media Room. The virtual shopping tour consisted of a walk through of a grocery store that displayed what the store and packaging looked like before versus what it looks like now.

The program was projected onto the entire back wall, like a movie theatre, and allowed the virtual customer to walk through space, pick up items off the shelves and even add them to their shopping carts.

After this, we proceeded to the conference room to discuss business matters. Other employees from the office spent a few hours discussing the renovation and after this it was time for me to give the presentation to the group.

The Customer and Marketing Global Director of Shopping was very pleased with my presentation and we discussed moving forward with this project even after my return to New York. He also told us that he and some other people from the Barilla corporate office would be visiting the U.S. in a few months and he would like for us to present our progress on the project to them when they come.

I think this meeting was the perfect way to end my experience in Italy. To present my work to a real life client and have them respond positively to it was a very gratifying feeling.

Grottini Retail Environments Internship: Erica - Hanging out in Porto Recanti

Posted on Thu, Sep 03, 2015 @ 03:10 PM

by Erica Pierson

After traveling from JFK Airport to Berlin, with a transfer flight to Milan, I took the train from Milan to Ancona. When I arrived at the train station I was picked up by Stephano, a Grottini employee.

From there he took me to a bike store to pick up a bicycle that I would use to ride to the beach and the town of Porto Recanati. After we picked up a bike, we went to the grocery store so I could stock up on groceries for the week and have food to cook in the kitchen at the apartment. 

Stephano then showed me around the apartment for the first time, which was very large with four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room area, and a kitchen. Stephano then introduced me to another Grottini employee, Massimo, who gave me my set of keys for the apartment and invited me to dinner that night.

My first night in Italy was one I will never forget. After unpacking my very heavy suitcase I was picked up by Massimo around 8:30 for a night on the town. We drove to the heart of Porto Recanati and had dinner on the beach at a delicious Italian restaurant.

As a vegetarian in a town that is very big on seafood, I was a little worried about the menu written in Italian but it turned out they had a page included for vegans, which was perfect. The first meal I had was off menu and made special by the chef, a vegetable spaghetti dish that was one of my favorite meals of the whole trip.

After the amazing dinner we walked around so I could get a feel for what Porto Recanati was like, which was absolutely beautiful. The sun was setting over the ocean making the night breathtaking. 

The first weekend I spent in Porto Recanati happened to be when the town festival celebration of summer was taking place. Just about everyone from Porto Recanati gathered to celebrate with food, music, dancing, art, drinks, and games.

I rode my bike there with Massimo and we met some of the other Grottini employees there and some of their friends for dinner on the beach. Afterwards we walked around, listened to different live bands, checked out the street vendors, and had a great time.

The next day I went to Numana, which has a crystal clear beach about a half hour drive from Porto Recanati with some fellow employees and friends. It was one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever been too and probably my favorite place I visited while in Italy. 

Sunday came around and I was so exhausted from jetlag and all the activities that I slept until 3 pm! Sunday was a day for relaxation and homework as well as thinking about new Butterfly Twists ideas.

Grottini Retail Environments Internship: Erica & Jennifer Head to Rome!

Posted on Thu, Sep 03, 2015 @ 03:09 PM

by Erica Pierson

The weekend came around and Jennifer and I headed to Rome! We took the train from Ancona straight to Rome.  In four hours we arrived that evening just in time for a perfect Italian dinner with wine and cheese to start.

After a big meal we then explored as much as possible that night viewing the Coliseum, the Capital, Caesar’s Ruins. After a long day and night we headed back to our hotel, the Lazio Elegance Suit and got a good nights sleep for the next day’s activities. 

Saturday morning we had breakfast at the hotel, which was included in the price of our stay, and then headed out to explore all of Rome’s beauty and history. We went to the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, the Trevi Fountain, Castel Sant’Angelo, the Arch of Constantine, and the Vatican among many others places. Of course we also dedicated some time to shop and check out as many retail stores as we could to get a feel for the visual merchandising in Rome. 

That night we went out for a nice dinner of amazing Italian cuisine. (As always!) Then headed to a favorite bar for locals inside of a library, which is called "The Library."

This bar was one of my favorite visually aesthetic interiors in Italy. There was dim lighting, a large old fashioned chandelier, and randomly placed candles creating a romantic ambiance. The tables were covered in old newspapers and all along the walls there were books for reading, most were written in Italian but a few were in English.

Also, among the décor were mismatched couches and chairs, and a grand piano. Sunday came around too quick and since we had an early departure to go back to Porto Recanati, we kept the day mellow relaxing in Villa Ada, a large park with Roman ruins.

A Day in Siena

Posted on Wed, Feb 20, 2013 @ 11:19 AM

by Lindsay Nunnery

We stopped in Siena for the day and it turned out to be one of my favorite cities. 

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It was such a quaint village located in the countryside of Italy. 

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The sun was shining and we climbed the top of the Duomo, where we were able to see stunning views of the town and countryside.

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Tags: LIM College, study abroad, Italy

Haivng a Lizzie McGuire Moment

Posted on Tue, Feb 05, 2013 @ 03:06 PM

I took an AP European History course in high school and remember learning about the ancient art Italians created and how famous they are for their architecture. 

It was surreal being able to stand in front of Michelangelo’s David in Florence (I had to sneak a picture!)...

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and having my Lizzie McGuire moment making a wish in front of the Trevi Fountain in Rome.

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Tags: study abroad, art, Italy

What to Eat in Italy: Gelato

Posted on Wed, Jan 30, 2013 @ 12:11 PM

If you ever go to Italy, one thing I definitely suggest you do is eat gelato every day!

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American gelato does not compare to the authenticity of Italian gelato. We went to many different gelato places, and I suggest Flor and Grom. They are two places with amazing gelato the next time you find yourself on the hunt for this tasty treat!

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Tags: study abroad, Italy, eating out

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