Lapo Elkann Independent
Whether designing a never-before-seen custom Ferrari interior or imbuing his own stylish personality into one of his late grandfather’s suits, entrepreneur Lapo Elkann is constantly searching for ways to revitalize everything he touches. Photographs by Lorenzo Bringheli. Directed by Robert Rabensteiner.
With undying dedication to the notion of customization, Lapo Elkann has always had a passion for reinvigorating existing situations. Whether designing a never-before-seen custom car interior or breathing new life into one of his late grandfather’s custom suits, Elkann is constantly searching for new ways to think about—and tweak—objects in our daily lives.
And as president of two major companies, Italia Independent (a contemporary style and eyewear brand) and Independent Ideas (a business and advertising consulting agency), it isn’t surprising that Elkann wants to collaborate with “Whoever is able to change the rules about what is happening in whatever field they’re in.” Because really, that’s what he does best.
Customization is crucial in his fashion-related ventures with Italia Independent and it’s also been a crucial component to his work with Ferrari. Last year, Elkann was brought on board as a consultant by Ferrari chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo to work with Ferrari’s Centro Stile to develop its Tailor Made service. Here, Elkann offers clients the chance to customize their own vehicles—from the engine attributes all the way down to interiors clad with unlikely materials such as denim or copper mesh. Which for Elkann, was somewhat of a dream come true: “There's always someone you aim to work with,” he explains. “And in our collaboration with Ferrari, I’m happy to work with the best car company in the world in terms of tradition and innovation.”
Working with Ferrari also helped Elkann hone in on his own definition of the word ‘luxury’: “Today's biggest luxuries are both time and freedom, and those are priceless,” he explains. “Besides, luxury to me is making whatever product or environment yours through the use of customization, personalization and tailoring. These are the key elements.”
Renovation and customization are also themes that feature prominently in Elkann’s personal life—though he is currently based in the Porta Ticinese neighborhood of Milan, the 35-year-old also spent some recent years living in New York, and isn’t afraid to move when and wherever feels right for him at the time. “For my personality, I need different settings and environments to feel at ease professionally, socially, emotionally and personally,” he says.
While he also cites Shanghai, Rio de Janeiro and “the sea and the oceans,” among his favorite places, he still feels a passionate allegiance to his native Italy. After mentioning Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk (the co-founder of PayPal) as people he’d love to someday work with, his ideal venture was far more reflective of his heritage: “My dream client would be the re-branding of my own country, Italy,” he says. If anyone is up to the challenge, surely it’s Elkann.—Charlotte Steinway