A fortuitous meeting of the minds
When Parisian-born Fabrice Nadjari pitched his documentary project about one of the most remote places in Afghanistan (called Wakhan, An Other Afghanistan, later nominated for an Emmy) to Austrian-born Ulli Barta, the then CEO of The Impossible Project North America for an exhibit in their NYC gallery space, it was impossible to predict that just a few years later they would be joint CEOs of their own powerhouse creative bureau Studio 55.
At Studio 55 Barta and Nadjari work at the intersection of arts (fashion, photography & design)—analyzing culture(s) in an effort to help artists and other clients share their vision with the world at large.
“We had no precise plans but trusted the natural flow of things,” says Barta. “From a consulting gig, to conceiving and branding the ALDA platform (#beautybeyondsize) for five amazing models and working with other creative individuals, we realized that the challenges for artists and entrepreneurs are not so different as they are always made out to be.”
What’s the best part of this success story? Barta and Nadjari are the very best of friends—and it’s their friendship (including much cheeky banter) and their undeniable smarts, that makes working (and hanging with them) such a pleasure.
Here the dynamic duo give us their neighborhood guides to NYC, insider tips on strategic messaging, and more.
Can you reveal some of the cool people and organizations you work with?
This Place is a high profile photo project traveling to museums worldwide. The show is opening at the Brooklyn Museum in February 2016, featuring photographers like Frederic Brenner, Jeff Wall, Stephen Shore, Wendy Ewald, Josef Koudelka, etc. For this project we developed a whole digital strategy including the conception and production of a very comprehensive online storytelling platform. That is quite unique for a cultural project which was started outside of any institutional context!
International Center of Photography – We did the creative strategy and content curation for the Public Program Spring and Fall 2015. We came up with a completely new event program series for the museum to connect traditional photography content with apropos contemporary new media, technology and photo/video content. Check out the spring program here.
Where do you both live in NY? What’s the best thing about your neighborhood?
ULLI: I’m an East Villager through and through. I’ve lived on Saint Marks Place for 20 years and it’s hands down the best neighborhood in NYC. It’s the original cradle to so many cultural trends and some of the best food in the city, in an affordable and charming and local no attitude context.
– Do you know Superiority Burger on 9th street btw Ave A and 1st? AMAZING new spot for the best veggie burgers ever and vegetarian organic quick (not fast) food.
– My all time favorite spot is Mogador. It’s been around and is still top of my list.
FABRICE: I live in Chinatown, very close to the border of the Lower East Side, more precisely in the Fujianese part of the district. It took me a year and a half to realize my apartment was located above an illegal Mah Jong parlor :)! I love ‘the hustle and bustle’ of Chinatown, the grit, and the fact that it’s one of the few neighborhoods in NY that hasn’t changed much in the last 10 years. And of course, the asian food available 24 hours a day is a big plus.
Here are a few places where you can find me hanging out in Chinatown:
Taste of Northern China, which is literally a hole in the Manhattan Bridge, serving one of the best Uigours (North-Western) Chinese food I know.
The concept store ‘Coming Soon’, is always on point. The surprising curation reflects its two amazing owners Helena and Fabiana.
Mission Chinese – This place has everything going for it, whether is be the blasting hip hop, the nice dimly-lit space, to the delicious spicy ‘fusion’ that Danny Bowen has created. Clearly worth the wait.
For a night cap, I usually head out to the Upstairs bar, a totally random late night karaoké place where pretty much everything and everyone collides as long as they’re slightly weird. If I feel fancy, I’ll go get a hand-crafted cocktail at Attaboy– another Chinatown secret place!
Oh and let’s not forget culture. Both young and more established galleries have opened locations here very recently. Among them I really love Miguel Abreu on Eldridge, it’s one of the most dynamic art spaces this side of town representing conceptually inspired artists!
What’s your advice to artists and creative people who are trying to get their work out into the world?
1. Do the hard work to define in precise writing who you are as an artist and what sets you apart from others. And have an elevator pitch.
2. Use the free and very effective means of social media to feature your work intelligently and consistently.
Lastly, a sound and gorgeous castle is not built overnight – it’s the consistent, continuous, intelligent and fun path you chose for yourself which will lead you to success.
Follow Ulli, Fabrice & Studio 55 on Instagram and Twitter @st55nyc.