ARTIST INTERVIEW: Dario Solari of Kanimambo Books
Kanimambo is an independent publishing house and art bookstore based in Los Angeles. Working directly with creative directors, libraries, and collectors, Kanimambo sources project-specific creative material and offers consultation in producing high quality printed matter. Their online bookstore is a curated selection of delightful work from small independent publishing houses and self publishing artists from around the world.
We spoke to founder Dario Solari about his background and creative influences.
What is your background and how have your past experiences fed into your art?
I was born in Maputo, Mozambique, which is a tropical former Portuguese colony heavily influenced by Indian and Arabic culture. I spent part of my youth in Portugal living with my dad as an illegal alien, so that was interesting and definitely something that has had a great impact on my personality and how I view society as whole. I then went on to live a contrastingly different life with my mom who worked for the U.N. and in and out of private British boarding schools living in Kenya, Burundi, South Africa and eventually a little stint in Maryland in the Eastern U.S.
My family is African and Indian (Gujarat) with a little Italian here and there. Half the family is Catholic and the other half is Muslim; I’m not a religious person but I do believe in something more. Skateboarding and love of design brought me to L.A. in 1998 for architecture school at Sci-Arc. I ended up falling in love with California and became a naturalized citizen and had the most beautiful daughter who is the center of my existence now. All these contrasting cultural influences and design background led me to the publishing world, art curation and fine art photography.
Do you feel that your environment feeds into work and if so, what makes your work distinctively Californian?
Despite 10 million people, Los Angeles can be a really lonely place because so much time is spent in our private capsules (cars), but I’ve always had a thing for that melancholic feeling. I thrive in solitude and do my best creative work there.
The books I select for my bookstore always have a narrative of intimacy, self reflection, nature and color, lots of color. What makes the work distinctly Californian is its sense of escapism, and feeling of permanent vacation. I’m working on living by Confucius’s philosophy of ‘choosing a profession you love thus never working a day in your life.’ It doesn’t get any more Californian than that.
What are your top 3 studio essentials?
Music: I listen to all kinds including African, House and lately been really into modern classical Like Nils Frahm. I’m bundling NPR and intelligent podcast in that music category because it keeps me sane and somewhat social.
Plants are another essential as they are natural mood lifters.
Light is huge, and not necessarily brightness, but quality light that creates mood. Rainy days are also a super productive time because of the quality of light and freshness in the air which is a rarity in SoCal.