NUVO as seen at Livingspace Interiors. Photo by Ryan Voigt.

Summer, Issue 101, Out Now

An introduction to the new edition of NUVO, from editor Claudia Cusano.


April was a month of numerous work outings in various cities—Zermatt, Rome, Geneva, Milan, Los Angeles—and I found myself running out of chat. It may have been the company, but it was more likely exhaustion, as I felt I had zero to contribute. My job entails many lunches and dinners and sitting next to and across from strangers. The most basic requirement of a journalist is to be naturally curious (although being an easy conversationalist is an advantage in almost every occupation), and running out of conversation seemed like a professional failure.

As a teenager, I cringed at small talk. I would practise conversational openers in my bedroom while looking at myself in the mirror. In the decades since, I still cringe at small talk but have come to acquire the skill—even so, I refuse to discuss the weather. “Always have a joke ready” is one nugget of wisdom a tablemate once told me. Ancient wisdom says to never touch on politics or religion. And then there are the conversation crutches to fall back on: “What book are you reading?” “Where did you vacation last?” “What’s your favourite… [you complete the sentence]?”

I have come to learn that no one cares what you have to say. Most people care about what they have to say, because deep down, people want to feel they’ve been heard. And if you let them talk, they will. Early on in my career, a mentor gave me this tip: To be a great interviewer means you must master listening. During those long silences, the moments when the person is not responding right away, sit with your discomfort, he told me. Being a good listener may be the secret sauce to never running out of things to talk about.


NUVO editor Claudia Cusano.


But when the long silence is during a meal, it is awkward, and once you become aware it exists, it’s all you can think about. The clinking of silverware, the slurps and lip smacks are ever more pronounced. One can only hope someone with an ego is sitting at the table, that person who will break the silence and then there’s no need to get a word in because it’s all about watching the performance.

Who would you want to have dinner with? A question (there are plenty of variants of this) that is often asked to break the conversational ice. I’ll take a table at Oncle Lee—the new eatery in Montreal and the only restaurant in Canada to make the Hottest Global Restaurant Openings for 2024 on The World’s 50 Best—with the personalities featured in this summer edition. At the head of the table, chef Andersen Lee, the proprietor of Oncle Lee and at the other seats will be the rest of the riot of characters in this issue 101: cover gal Sophie Nélisse, best known for her role in Yellowjackets; Andrea Mancuso, the Italian designer who founded Analogia Project, a multidisciplinary practice; Winnie Truong, the Toronto-based artist known for her labour-intensive dioramas; Casey MQ, the singer-songwriter who went from dance party phenom to cerebral crooner; Carolina Bucci, the Florentine designer creating jewellery that is both playful and sophisticated; Sara Roka, the Vancouver native and fashion designer who now calls Milan home; founders of The Maker fragrance brand Lev Glazman and Alina Roytberg; and COS creative director Karin Gustafsson.

That’s 11 of us, but there’s always room for more, because, as I have come to learn living in Italy, you just never know who may show up at mealtime, where we don’t count calories but rather the memories made around the table—even when conversation fails.