Industria Superstudios Comes to Brooklyn
Thursday, November 19th, Fabrizio Ferri hosted his first annual “Insiders at Industria” event in honor of his newest venue opening in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Opening in 1991 as the first multifunctional photo studio in NYC, Industria is no stranger to Manhattan’s photo and fashion industries.
Madonna and Steven Meisel shot their Sex book at Industria, and clients like Dolce & Gabbana, Giorgio Armani, Prada, and Valentino have shot their campaigns at Industria, in addition to top photographers from Richard Avedon and Annie Leibovitz to Mario Testino (to just name a few).
Their new expanded 5th Street studio with breathtaking views of the Williamsburg Bridge means a new stronghold for creativity just across the bridge.
[portfolio_slideshow id=93282 align=center width=699 click=advance thumbnailsize=40 showcaps=false]
(All images courtesy Industria and Visual Content Creation)
The recent “Insiders at Industria” evening featured custom designs by Wizard Studios, making for an Insta-worthy entrance by literally roping guests into a beautifully spacious, interactive space.
The “wave room” featured projection-mapping techniques to create a captivating underwater experience, and upon floating into the next room, a DJ complete with disco dancers and a lights show made for the perfect accompaniment to Goldthread’s plant-based tonics being served at one of the many bars.
Turmeric tonic in hand, I found a myriad of handheld bites to choose from, making the decision between Thomas Preti’s savory heirloom carrot tartare or Riveria Catering’s sweet sundae bar a very difficult one.
I cannot forget to mention the remarkable fruit and cheese table by Acquolina, beautiful bites by Pinch Food Designs, and full bar with custom drink menu, all as aesthetically pleasing as the custom-built subway car amidst all of the action. Elan Artists took subway busking to the next level with their musical performance.
And as if the lively atmosphere, visual masterpieces, food, and extraordinary “insiders” in attendance weren’t enough, each guest went home with a polaroid of themselves among yet another striking backdrop.
With all the new space had to offer last Thursday, there’s no doubt that the unparalleled work currently being produced by photographers and artists at Industria Superstudios in the West Village — or that Ferrio’s contagious, exuberant energy — is going anywhere anytime soon.
I had the opportunity to speak with Fabrizio Ferri to learn more about the history — and future — of this New York institution.
Interview with Fabrizio Ferri
Q:What about photography made you choose it as a career path?
I chose photography because of the possibility of sharing what I have seen with someone else. What I have seen are my emotions. It became a job because people paid me to show what I feel, so it was a win-win.
Q:What makes Industria Superstudio so special?
I originally founded Industria in Milan in 1983 and it was the first multifunctional studio of its kind in the world.
At that time, photographers would invest all of their money into their own studio space. I found this a problem because I was asking myself, “Do I want a daylight studio or a night studio? Do I want strobes or LED or fluorescent light?”
photographers would invest all their money into their studio space
A photographer could want both, or could want different things on different days. This was a problem because photographers could not afford all of these different types of studios for themselves, but also if you choose one and want to change, your investment is no longer good. So I opened Industria, a ‘super studio’ with all of the options available for photographers to pick and choose the type of studio, light, or ceiling height on any given day according to the job, production … according to anything.
photographers could not afford all of these different types of studios
The flexibility is really key. I then opened Industria in New York in 1991, where it was the first of its kind as well. It was also the only studio with street access from every studio, and is still the only New York studio with this feature. So in a time when everything is shrinking, we move to Williamsburg and go even bigger with 24-foot ceilings, no beams, and lots of space.
Q:Why did you choose to expand Industria in Manhattan rather than at home in Italy?
I kept the studio in Milan until 2007. In 1990, there was a big recession in New York. I was in Italy and noticed it on all the front pages of every Italian newspaper, even printed in English. I found this hypocritical in a way because Europe was thinking of troubles on the other side of the ocean.
Because of this, I knew this recession would hit Europe and they wouldn’t be ready, so I went to New York and opened Industria in the Meatpacking District when it was literally just packing meat.
I opened Industria in the Meatpacking District when it was literally just packing meat
The fashion industry wasn’t a big business yet, but everybody in fashion was ready to move to Paris because of the recession.
I opened the studio anyways and it made people believe that you have to trust. Immediately, the studio was on the cover of the New York Times and The New Yorker. A few months later, Madonna and Steven Meisel shot their Sex book at Industria, then Ralph Lauren hosted their Christmas party there; there were fashion shows, and it really blew up in newspapers, in magazines, and on TV.
Madonna and Steven Meisel shot their Sex book at Industria
The whole industry reconsidered moving to Paris because of these little highlights.
Q:You’ve photographed so many incredible celebrities and people, but what is one shoot over the course of your career that stands out?
Aside from supermodels who I really enjoyed working with like Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista, and Naomi, one that I always carry in my heart because of the virginity in her eyes is Stephanie Seymour.
And Julia Roberts. I haven’t seen her in a while, but she was a wild, almost boyish young woman who in a second would turn into a sensual woman. And she was so much fun. We just laughed and laughed and laughed. She is a positive energy and is very sensitive, making her good to work with and also a good friend.
Julia Roberts was so much fun. We just laughed and laughed and laughed
Q:What inspired you to shoot your “Stop Think Give” campaign and how did you get involved with Save the Children?
Bulgari decided to join forces with Save the Children and start a fundraiser, but had no idea how to go about it. They made a ring and wanted some of proceeds to go to the organization, but didn’t think celebrities would want to wear it because it would be free advertising and they would want to be paid, but this would ruin the whole purpose.
I had worked with Bulgari many times before, and they came to me and said, “What do we do?” I took over the campaign under three conditions: that I would not get paid, that Bulgari would not pay anybody, and that they also would not pay for one single ad page in any magazine in the world. We would have the celebrity wear the ring for the right cause that could be used as free content for editorials around the world. I didn’t see how anybody would say no.
Bulgari gave me the go-ahead to shoot the “Stop Think Give” campaign to sell as many rings as possible to raise funds for Save the Children.
Bulgari gave me the go-ahead to sell as many rings as possible to raise funds for Save the Children
I asked to fly to Sao Paolo to experience where the funds would be going. I took pictures and videos to show others, too, and it was amazing. Most celebrities are real people with real hearts, so as I expected, no one said no.
Q:Swiss Style quoted you saying “I can’t take my foot off the accelerator,” but when you’re not working, what are your favorite ways to spend your time?
My work is to really put myself in the conditions to be able to do my work. Photographing is also my downtime. It’s what I like to do. So the work to me is the meetings and strategies. Photographing is time-consuming, exhausting, and emotionally demanding, but it’s not work, it’s what I like.
When I’m not shooting, I love spending time in my island home or my house up in the Catskills writing music. But my downtime is uptime because in that time I am writing music, which I use in the background of all my video advertisements and films.
in my downtime I am writing music
I’m constantly in creative overflow. It’s as if you go to a beaver and say to the beaver, “You just finished building a dam, why are you building another one?” The beaver would look at you and say “I am a beaver. I cannot stop.” So I guess I am a beaver.
Q:What does the future hold for you and Industria Superstudio? Will there be more opening up in NYC? Internationally?
Maybe we will look into expanding more internationally. I cannot say much more because it is up in the air. We want to root ourselves well in Williamsburg where all this amazing energy drives the work. We want more and more events and to host more and more great photographers and shoots. Our priority is to strengthen this studio that really is one-of-a-kind.
We want to root ourselves well in Williamsburg with all this amazing energy
As Brooklyn welcomes Industria to the neighborhood, be sure to follow along @industriasuperstudio.