This exclusive interview with designer Matthew White, Chairman of Save Venice was conducted by Nicola Linza and Cristoffer Neljesjö of Manner of Man Magazine in New York April 2011.
Interview with Matthew White, Chairman, Save Venice.
How did you come into your role as chairman of Save Venice?
I’ve been on the board of Save Venice for more than a decade. It all started with me first falling in love with Venice long ago, and later, in the late 1990’s I attended a Save Venice gala in Venice. It was an incredible experience. When I returned I decided I would throw a big masked ball which we hosted at our house in San Marino, California. The party was an amazing success, people flew in from all over the world - Elton John, John Loring, designers, artists, jetsetters, they all came. This event raised lots of money and launched the California Chapter of Save Venice. After that I was invited to be on the board and have been active ever since. I didn’t expect to become Chairman of Save Venice, but it’s a position that I am honored to hold. I hope I do a good job.
Can you explain the mission of Save Venice?
Save Venice is an American non-profit, we’ve been around for forty years. Our mission is to protect the artistic heritage of Venice by raising funds to restore art and monuments in that astonishing city. Not many people know that Venice has the highest concentration of historic buildings in the world. Many of those buildings still hold great works of art that remain in situ after many centuries. Besides restoration, we are involved in educational efforts through our lecture series and publications. Our board includes illustrious scholars and art historians so I am very fortunate to be surrounded by great minds on the topic of Venice, her history and her art.
What is your primary goal as chairman?
My main goal is to increase awareness of the world treasure that Venice clearly is, and to encourage my fellow citizens of the world to help us insure that these treasures are protected for future generations.
Is there a project that stands out currently?
We have many projects going on at any given time, but currently there are two that are real stand-outs. One is the Church of San Sebastiano. The interior of this church is filled with paintings and frescoes by the Renaissance master Paolo Veronese. It is a treasure trove of great art and we hope to restore all the artworks inside as well as the building itself. Our other big project is the Sala dell’Albergo which is the most important historic room within the Accademia Galleries. It holds an enormous Titian and has the most beautiful 15th century carved wooden ceiling in all of Venice. We will also be bringing back two paintings that were created for this space centuries ago, they’ve been in storage for more than a hundred years! I love both of these projects because they are perfect examples of what we do: they involve the restoration of art, architecture and historic interiors, three things I am very passionate about.
How does your role as a designer integrate with your work with Save Venice?
Save Venice is a natural fit for me as a designer because of the sheer beauty of that city. I simply can’t get enough of it. But my love affair goes beyond mere visuals, it’s much deeper than that. I can’t really explain why an American guy with not a drop of Italian blood would have this deep connection to a Venice. It’s a mystery, but that is part of the magic. Venice is a mysterious city. I recently wrote a book called Italy of my Dreams about how Italy and Venice have influenced my personal style. This is not just a mild interest for me, it’s a deep passion.
The above interview with Matthew White 2011 © Manner of Man Magazine/Welldressed. All rights reserved. Reproduction is strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher. -