Voyage Magazine Feature: Life & Work with Michael Armanno

Voyage Magazine Feature: Life & Work with Michael Armanno

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michael Armanno. Read Full Article Here.

Hi Michael, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Thank you for having me. The story of Bespoke House is a story of evolution, collaboration, and serendipity. It all began in my downtown Jacksonville retail store, where I was styling for a music collective known as VHCLE. There, I met Blind Bear, a remarkable borosilicate glass artist with a unique vision. Our relationship, initially professional, quickly evolved into a friendship as we collaborated on various digital media strategies. One of our most innovative projects involved creating handblown glass accouterments for my high-luxury fashion brand, Kalypso Couture. As we worked, we realized we both needed more space to nurture and expand our ideas. Reflecting on what we wished we had when we started over a decade ago, we began searching for a location that could foster our growing aspirations. That search led us to two houses on a hill at Park and Blanding – a spot that felt right to cultivate our concepts. What emerged from there was more than just a space; it was the genesis of a vibrant community of First Coast creatives. We discovered a collective of artists and creators who needed access to space, resources, and a platform to make their voices heard – to ‘Speak for Something.’ This phrase beautifully resonates with the root of the word ‘bespoke,’ which means ‘bespoken for.’ And that’s precisely what we set out to build at Bespoke House. Bespoke House is where creativity meets opportunity. It’s a place where ideas come to life, artisans can find their voice, and the community can engage with the arts meaningfully. As we approach our first anniversary, I’m reminded of the journey and the incredible people who’ve made Bespoke House what it is today. It’s a testament to the power of collaboration and the enduring spirit of creativity in Jacksonville.

Please talk to us about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned. Looking back, has it been easy or smooth in retrospect?
It’s been a journey with its fair share of challenges. In Jacksonville, there are plenty of creative spaces and resources. However, we kept encountering discussions about needing a cohesive community and a distinct voice from the creative class. This was something we aimed to address with Bespoke House. Our early days were a learning curve. We found that our initial programming and projects only resonated with some. We saw a variety of amazing creators come and go, and that fluidity became a core aspect of Bespoke House. We wanted to establish an environment of continuous movement, a place where you’d find a supportive and passionate community regardless of your level of expertise. One of our biggest challenges was identifying what we were best at. With so many incredible ideas, it was a process to pinpoint our strengths. The turning point for us was when our community began to grow, and we started actively listening to the voices of our creators. Their input and feedback shaped the programming and resources we offer today. Bespoke House became a vital asset for Jacksonville’s burgeoning creative class by tuning into their needs and desires. Essentially, Bespoke House evolved from just a space to a thriving community hub. It’s a place where creativity is nurtured, and every individual, regardless of their creative field or experience level, can find a home to express and refine their art.

Thanks for sharing that. So, you could tell us more about your work.
As a fashion designer nearing 12 years in the industry, my journey has constantly evolved in understanding what being part of the creative class means. Fashion design goes beyond creating garments. It’s about recognizing and celebrating the spark of creativity often overlooked in our everyday lives. We live in a world where we’re constantly surrounded by ‘amazing,’ ‘incredible,’ and ‘stellar’ creations. However, the true essence often gets lost – the artisans behind the seams, the stories woven into the fabric of each piece. That’s where my heart truly lies at Bespoke House. What fills me with pride is curating a space at Bespoke House that allows the creative class to truly ‘Speak for Something.’ I want to showcase the inner workings of these wondrous creations, the journey of each artisan from concept to realization. It’s about bringing to light the emotion, the passion, and the journey behind each piece of art, be it fashion, painting, or any form of creative expression. Our lives are often filled with the hustle and bustle of social events like farmers’ markets or gallery openings. In these moments, we socialize but often miss the opportunity to delve deeper. I want to change that. I want to create a space where we’re not just mildly enthralled by life but completely immersed in wonder and understanding of the creative process and the people behind it. At Bespoke House, we strive to ensure that each creator’s voice is heard and their work is respected and applauded. It’s about building a community where creativity is seen, felt, and understood in its most accurate form.

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Image Credits
Nick Bennett Photography – The Nerdy British Photo Guy

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