BUS STOP Loves / Eileen Tognini

BUS STOP Loves / EILEEN TOGNINI
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For our new weekly series, we've interviewed our favorite Philadelphians...the curators, collaborators, photographers, and creative friends who have inspired us greatly, and have touched us to tell our brand story over the past 13 years. They've each played a BIG part in our storytelling with their unique work and vision. Every week, we feature and introduce another one of our fave folks to you.
We've asked each guest to ponder 10 Questions (plus one additional Bonus Question) and send us a selfie or self-portrait to accompany the feature!
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#BUSSTOPLoves
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Eileen Tognini is a curator, collaborator, and innovator at the intersection of art, design, and experience. She is the found of Eileen Tognini Design and has headed design projects at The Versailles, Lincoln Square, The Peyton, Egan Rittenhouse, Shirt Corner Apartments, Rescue Spa Philadelphia and more. She has also curated exhibitions by local artists Chris Klapper & Patrick Gallagher, Aurora Robson, David Meyer, Alison Stigora, Jason Hackenwerth, just to name a few.
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1. How long have you lived in Philly! All my life!
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2. How do you describe yourself in THREE WORDS? I'd rather ask my best friend :)
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3. How would your best friend describe you in THREE WORDS? Wait, let me ask:
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E: Darling, what 3 words would you use to describe me?
F: Loving, Loyal, Dreamer
E: Wow, wonderful - thanks lovely!
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4. How did you start your career? At 12, I started selling my embroidery on jean jackets, it's been non-stop creative entrepreneurship ever since.
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5. Who's your mentor? I have been fortunate to have had several along the way that each supported me with professional wisdom and encouragement. But really, my dad is the attributed driving force behind everything I have ever strived to achieve. Sadly, he died too young at the age of 62. He was a brilliant artist/illustrator who graduated from The Philadelphia College of Art (now University of the Arts).
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His creative journey was cut short when, as the eldest of 5 kids and at his tender age of 26, halted his aspirations to care for his Mother who had suffered a devastating stroke, and help raise his younger siblings. Rather than pursuing the life of an artist he'd always dreamed he'd have, the experience took him to a safe and different path as a commercial printer.
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The idea of making his own art was then left to the "when I retire" adage. Well, retirement never came for him - and nor did he fulfill his dream. That's the answer to the questions below..."What keeps me up at night" - don't wait for tomorrow. Tomorrow is too far away.
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6. What do you fantasize about? Right now...I fantasize about being in a little Italian village and dreaming about creating another "house/gallery/hotel" like our magical Gallery in the Garden (1997-2008) at our tiny farmhouse in rural PA.
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7. What keeps you up at night? Wondering if I will never get to do what I fantasize about.
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8. How has the pandemic affected you? We are in the midst of an unprecedented disaster with continued uncertainty. I recently came across the term "ambiguous loss" which so accurately describes a loss that is unclear and lacks a resolution. Our rituals, freedom, trust, politics, humanity, our view of any of these being solved anytime soon creates a lot of inner tension in my soul. But I have come to learn to be kind to myself, and knowing that we are all feeling this desperation, I am doing my best to allow time to reflect, replenish and acknowledge the new rhythms. Of course, not sure I always succeed at that self-kindness...but I try.
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9. How has the BLM Movement influenced your life and your work? I grew up in a very diverse neighborhood, and went to the Philadelphia High School for Girls that represented young women from all parts of the City, in race, culture, socio-economic positions. I never thought about our differences - I didn't see color. I have come to learn in that "not seeing color" was part of the problem...I thought that was enough. I have become dedicated to better understanding the history that got us here and what I must do to change the mindset of "color-blind" to make a difference.
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10. What's the one thing most people would be surprised to know about you? That I worked for IBM for 14 years and wore Khaki suits with little silk blow ties bought from Brooks Brothers. But I always had great shoes and eyeglasses - since the dress code never mandated those parts of the wardrobe.
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BONUS Q: What's your favorite spot in Philly? Right now, my home...my quarantine vice has been buying books - so I'm giddy about the education and inspiration I am surrounding myself with in the written form. Poetry, history, art, design, has been all part of my Quarantine Master class.
PS to your readers...I am not much for selfies - but figured a big full mouthed laughing image was just what I needed to be reminded of what's behind the mask!
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Eileen we love you and hope our readers have an insight into your uniqueness and amazingness in this series!