That Valentina Rambone is an analytical lead at Google leads us to believe she has mad technology skills as well as an appreciation of and knack for great design. If we had to venture a guess, we’d say that growing up in Italy, studying in Germany, and getting a master’s in marketing in Ireland had something to do with honing her sharp eye. Throw in a four-month stint in Phoenix—all the better to learn about the power of neutrals—and you’ve got a woman of great experience and taste.
What do you do?
I’m an analytical lead at Google. I moved here a year ago from Phoenix, but I was only in Phoenix for four months. I was with Google then as well, and before that I was in Ireland for five years. I did my masters in marketing and then got a job offer with Google out there. I interviewed with Google Germany. I was born and raised in Italy, but my mom is German. I went to an international school and did my undergrad in Italy, and then I moved to Ireland for my post-grad.
So your international experience is vast.
Yes, yes, definitely. I lived in four countries, including Germany, where I completed an internship and my Erasmus.
What is an Erasmus?
It’s a student exchange. You go to a foreign university for half a year. You study out there and take your courses and exams. I did that but wanted to move to Germany for a longer period of time, so I interviewed with Google Hamburg. I was living in Ireland then, so the interview was held at the Google headquarters in Dublin. The team in Germany said, “You’re already in Dublin, the European headquarters, so you might as well interview there.” That worked out, so I started on a team called the Global Expansion team, working on international account strategies. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Google AdWords…
Yes, but somehow I’ve never managed to figure it out for my blog.
It is technical.
I am not, and that’s a problem.
It’s paid search marketing, essentially. My team in Ireland looked after clients that wanted to advertise around the globe, not just in their home countries. If you have a U.S.-based company that wants to advertise in Italy or Germany, you need a kind of middleman to understand their domestic market as well as the export market. That’s what I did for three and a half years, and in that time I did a rotation here in New York for three months.
Sort of like a foreign exchange again.
Yes, exactly. I came here and fell in love with the city. I really wanted to come back but couldn’t get a visa. I returned to Dublin and stayed there for another two years. I realized New York wasn’t going to work out, so I applied for a job in Phoenix and got that one. I was supposed to stay for six months, but four months in, I got two offers from New York. So I ended up where I wanted to be.
So how did you discover PANYL and what are you using it for?
As you can imagine, I didn’t move with all my furniture from Europe to Phoenix and then back to New York. I had to buy new furniture, and it was the first time I bought it more for the long-term. I always bought IKEA furniture in Dublin, so I know it inside and out. This time around, I had a mix of things. I bought some things from a girl who moved back to Canada, a bed and a couch—the bigger things. Then I bought some vintage furniture. All the pieces came together, and actually the last piece that was missing was a bookcase. In Manhattan, nobody has a lot of space, and I was looking for something to tie it all together. I bought this bookcase from IKEA, and it just looked a little sad, honestly. I put everything in there, but I didn’t like the look of all these tiny pieces in a bookcase. Three or four months ago, I bought boxes that go inside the bookcase, since the bookcase doesn’t come with drawers. It took me a month to build them. I had 35 holes to fill, and each hole contained two drawers, so I really had 70 holes to fill. And it didn’t look good. The problem is that my bookcase is an espresso brown, and I couldn’t find 35 boxes of the same color. So I bought different colors, and they were black and white—it just didn’t look good. I was constantly looking for something to embellish my IKEA furniture. I actually had already known PANYL from when I was in Dublin.
I think it was on a blog. I follow some interior design blogs—I love interior design. I follow Apartment Therapy and IKEA Hackers. I already knew about PANYL, but I’d forgotten that they existed. I found them again when I went back to IKEA Hackers, and I thought, “Yes, this is what I’ve been looking for!” I bought these PANYLs that are white but resemble wood. They’re called White Cedar. It was great. I put them on my drawers, and it was just perfect. It finished the whole thing. I was very proud of putting together that whole bookcase and putting PANYL on it.
If you could PANYL anything, just for fun, what would you make?
Now I have a nice kitchen, but for the longest time I had a really ugly kitchen. I couldn’t find a way to make it look nicer, because when you rent an apartment you’re not allowed to change the cabinets, you can’t paint them, and buying custom cabinets for a place you might stay in for a year or two doesn’t really make sense. I would have PANYLs for my kitchen.
What do you like about PANYL?
It makes something that is very standard kind of personalized. IKEA is everywhere you go—when you go to someone’s place you recognize it. A lot of my friends’ houses look the same. I think that PANYL is a great way to make your house look like you.
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