“I accept everything that goes on around here. I think that here, in this neighbourhood, there are many nice studios and people who are doing great things. I hope that the Design District will not just be like, we are the Design District and that’s it, I hope that people will really come together and do something concrete.”
Mauro Massarotto is a versatile designer, born in Rovinj, whose base is (also) in Zagreb, and his home is actually the world. He stands behind the internationally renowned fashion brand Sheriff&Cherry. Massarotto is best known in Croatia for his remarkable redesign of Startas sneakers produced by the Vukovar company Borovo (the Long Live Startas project), through which he has entirely redefined the identity of the company and breathed new life into it for the new millennium.
He also continues to work on the design and production of the Sheriff&Cherry sunglasses line, and while someone has read this interview, Massarotto will probably have already started or even finished a new project. His enormous energy is what attracts the attention of the audience and clients, but it also makes his design so recognizable and durable. We were lucky to catch him right before the opening of a new Sheriff&Cherry shop in Račkoga street — although he had his hands full with the redecoration and adaptation of his office, he readily gave us fifteen minutes of his time.
Mauro Massarotto: The space we are currently in is our studio and showroom. So, Sheriff&Cherry is not just a designer sunglasses brand, but an entire studio, with a team of people helping me. We work with a lot of freelancers , and we also do fashion consulting and design for various brands. Our project has grown into a serious business we handle from here, in cooperation with foreign dealers and agents. We always have one foot in Zagreb and the other one abroad or in Rovinj, where our company originates from.
To be successful, you need to have a clear vision of what you want to do and you have to meet the right people. It’s great that we work with dealers from Australia, Japan, Spain… When one of them wakes up, another one goes to sleep. We follow each other and communicate with each other. We have agents in Paris, London… We are present on a global scale, and I’m not sure I could say that for any other designer brand from Croatia or former Yugoslavia. We were lucky, but we also had a good product, and the international market was important to us from the very beginning. Everything can be done. Actually, it could be said that Sheriff&Cherry is neither a well-known nor unknown brand, which suits us completely. You also have to enjoy yourself sometimes, not everything is about work. Thanks to the opening of the shop, I expect more direct communication with local buyers and clients, because somebody will always be here.
— Although he didn’t use to stay much in Zagreb until recently, Massarotto doesn’t hide his approval of the changes he notices in Zagreb, but also in the ‘Martićeva zone’. Comparing the present day with the time of the opening of his first shop in another part of the city, he concludes the differences are obvious.
M.M.: I have always liked the surroundings of the Mosque. We used to have a shop in Medvedgradska street, near the Glyptotheque, while that space was still cool.. It was a cult place, with a different approach to selling and distributing goods, it was totally punk, people gathered in our space. It was supposed to be that way, because the society was much more conservative ten years ago. Now it is much freer, which it wasn’t back then. We felt as if we weren’t in Zagreb. Nevertheless, I like this part of the city, Martićeva and the surrounding streets, it is actually one of my favourite neighbourhoods. We were actually looking for an office, not a street shop. Honestly, we were not planning on reopening the shop, but we came across this space and said: well, why not? It’s interesting how everything turns back the way it was. This area is not fancy, it doesn’t resemble Teslina or Masarykova at all, it has a good mix of contents and I believe it will improve even more.
I accept everything that goes on around here. I think that here, in this neighbourhood, there are many nice studios and people who are doing great things. It really has everything. I am delighted with the Maldoror “heavy metal” shop that sells all those metal gadgets. It is the best shop in Zagreb. I hope that the Design District will not just be like, we are the Design District and that’s it, I hope that people will really come together and do something concrete. Everyone can contribute to something. For example, there aren’t enough parks here. I would instantly build a park, a children’s playground, this and that. The Design District project should also include such initiatives.
This space is special. The streets are wide, the light is beautiful. The Mosque is fantastic, together with its skaters and pensioners, with the whole normal vibe. It looks cosmopolitan. I used to come to Zagreb very rarely, once in a while, just for work. I didn’t spend much time here. But, when I compare the city to what it was like nine or ten years ago, the difference is huge. There are places to go out at night. You can have a good time. Of course, everything could be much better, but even now, it’s already as different as night and day.