Sunday, March 29, 2009

A White House

A refined residence in Genoa, playing with abstraction and decoration, designed by architect Antonio Lagorio.  Opening its door is like entering a dream, all white inside, with the exception of a "Schiaparelli Pink" panel. 
On the white floor emerges a vintage stool upholstered in fuchsia colour.               

On the ceilings of the apartment the Liberty flowers decorations were isolated and they are now free from the old ornate background so they can float like abstracts in pure white.  Black and steel vintage furniture on total white:  Wassili Chairs by Marcel Breuer.
A Mid Century low table with mirrored top by the talented Eileen Gray.

 Two vintage chairs, a 16th Century oil painting, modern artisan glass vases add a touch of colour.

The dining room features a piece made of Oak veneer, from the 50's


The eyes wander along the corridor, with the study at the end, a sequence of sliding doors in
lacquered white wood and opaline glass.

 The definition of the space forces you to stop and look at details.

A touch of colour also in the Guests bathroom: walls are orange yellow resin.  A whimsical touch is given by the "Gnome" table by Philippe Starck for Kartell

In the guests room, the walking closet is minimalist, created only by a horizontal plain and a vertical divider.

Another neutral divider between hall and living and a low table  made of black crystal designed by Lagorio.                  
                       A minimalist approach for a white almost surreal dream House.

Photography by Ernesta Caviola

Friday, March 27, 2009

Earth Hour


Following Patricia Gray latest great Post I like to add news on the Italian version


Public places and monuments in major cities will be in the dark.
Many Hotels have also adhered to "the Hour" and several restaurants will be even offering "cene fredde" with recipes that don't need cooking.
Venice is ready to celebrate along the Grand Canal, Florence is ready at Ponte Vecchio, Rome is ready at the Colosseo, Vatican City is ready at Saint Peter, Agrigento is ready in the Temple's Valley...
In Milan around the Cathedral (Il Duomo), in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, at La Scala Opera House and also at the Sforza Castle (Castello Sforzesco) hundreds of candles will be distributed before the lights will be turned off.
                                 An hour is only a short time but it can be a very powerful
                                                               Message of Hope!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Timeless House in Tuscany

A house, sometimes, can become a work of art, even through mistakes... when details create the whole image and when feelings are more important than reason.
                                                                A house with an ancient soul.


This is the story of a 16th century house, situated in Tuscany, with a 14th century adjoining tower.
The house was restored in 18th century and again recently by Architect Roberto Baciocchi.
A walk through time where walls are built with memories, where the past creates the present.
Furniture are chosen not because they are fashionable or current in style but only with passion  and personal taste.

                                     Alternating antiques, mid-century and contemporary pieces 


                 The marble mantle, neoclassic style as a background to the "Egg" chair by Arne Jacobsen


Perfect match of Eero Saarinen's table and chairs with Ovalia big chair and suspended  light made with horns. The Etruscan well is still functioning.


The wardrobe is furnished with a Sicilian L shape table, two gorgeous chairs designed by Gio' Ponti in  1950 and a wardrobe closet designed by Baciocchi. 

The red Room with a velvet sofa from 1940 and the ceiling "a botte" probably from the 18th century.

Soft jellow on the walls give light to the master bedroom and to the gorgeous family's heirloom bed

  An antique french cast iron tub and "Nesso" lamp by Artemide on the Sicilian chest of drawers.
  The chair with horns is typical of the eclectic style of the end of 1800, the rug is contemporary.


  A concrete counter in the kitchen and a custom made piece in stainless steel and glass on the left.


                             Stairs made of "pietra serena" frequently used in Tuscany also for columns.
                               At the bottom the console, the mirror and objects are all baroque style.

                                     A walk through centuries, a truly lived in and still well alive Home!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Art and Design

Scenes from Post modern Design.

"La Triennale" in Milan is a foundation aiming at research and exhibition of architecture, design, visual art and industrial production.
In its Museum of Modern Design, a new exhibition called "Serie fuori serie" has just started and it will be there for a year.
It revolves around the debate about the way contemporary Design is going and how important are prototypes in Design History.

Realization of a serial product (which was the historic prerogative of industrial design)
Creation of single piece or limited edition (which was the historic prerogative of art)

Some Designers go from serial reproduction to work of art (one of Marc Newson's chairs sold for USD 968,000 at Sotheby's)

1988 "Embryo" Chair by Newson for Cappellini

Some Artists instead go from the original piece to serial production (Brit-Art's Damien Hirst for instance has a collection of his interpretation of Levi's Jeans at Corso Como 10 in Milan, a store well known for the blend of fashion, art and culture)

They are designed after his work "For the love of God" apparently sold in 2007 for USD 100,000,000 (yes, zeros are in the right number) and other jeans have his famous tropical butterflies...

Another example is Jeff Koons, Pop-Star artist who fetches astronomical high prices for his work but at the same time realizes "witty things" in limited series like the "Inflatable balloon flowers" made of PVC in series of hundreds or "The incredible Hulk" series.

07 Jeff Koons

  These are proofs that now borders between Art and Design are more and more fluid.  Architect and Designer Carlo Mollino projects are exposed in Museums, while the artist  Muramaki works for big fashion houses like "Vuitton".  Some critics are sceptic about this fusion of art and design and they see in it a creation of an artificial market instead of a real research in Design.
                                                                  Future will tell.

Below are some prototypes displayed at "La Triennale" latest Exhibition on Design

Fridge "Oz" by Roberto Pezzetta for Electrolux

Jacopo Foggini's "Chandelier" (more on this brilliant designer on a future Post)

Object of daily life: Who has not seen one of these so well designed Italian coffee maker?

Moka Express by Alfonso Bialetti for Bialetti

The sculpture... or is it a vase? The vase... or is it a sculpture?
"Flow" designed by Zaha Hadid for Serralunga


Chair "Up5" by Gaetano Pesce for Cassina representing a female figure tied to a ball shaped ottoman "symbolizing the shackles that keep women subjugated"


Packlight" designed and self produced by Lorenzo Damiani is a genial use of an electronical bulb and the regular bulb's packaging (with a few dollars you can have a work of art)

Chair "Maralunga" by Vico Magistretti for Cassina offers comfort and versatility due to the adjustable headrest.

"Maui" by Terry Dwan for Riva Industria Mobili made of scented cedar.  Its sinuous lines make it a piece of art

  Phylla, experimental car designed for Fiat in 2008

                              "Serie fuori serie" is a fascinating trip through four major themes:
Grande serie (mass market)
Piccola serie (handcrafted)
Sperimentazione (experimental)
Fuori serie (unique pieces, extreme technology or design)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

What every garden should have

Today I am going to explore the world of Outdoor lights
Let's start with these gorgeous, living room like, floor lamps
with shade made of woven PVC, with direct and diffused light.
Of course the lamps are treated for every kind of weather.

"Superarchimoon" by Philippe Starck for Flos

Then these cute lights hanging from a tree.
"Podlens" by Luceplan look like flower buds between leaves.
Fluorescent bulbs, energy efficient, totally safe in any weather conditions.

"Flora" by Fontana Arte (company founded in 1932 by Gio' Ponti), is inspired by nature forms, the base is almost invisible to make it look like a flower coming out from the ground.
The "Clover" chair is by Ron Arad for Driade

"Verdeluce" by Artemide
The designer's idea was to have Light diffused through greenery, a vase with the possibility
of automatic watering for the plant inside.

 "Comma" by Artemide becomes also a support tutor for plants and creates suggestive images of
chiaro-scuro (light and shade).

"Vas-one" designed by Luisa Bocchietto for Serralunga collection has fluorescent lights
coming through the big vase which,for safety reasons, is sealed at the top but still
can contain a small amount of soil

Tulip/S and Tulip/XL by Myyour are fun and versatile since they have various sizes (from 40 to 150 cm.) and can be used as table or floor lamps, indoor or outdoor. They also come in green, orange, lilac and red.

"Waterproof" by Handres Serrano for Spanish company Metalarte, created for water, ideal for a pool.
They create great atmosphere and mystery.            09_b_outdoor

Which one would you like to have?                    

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The end to an era of excess?

The late Gianni Versace's "Villa Fontanelle" in Moltrasio, on Como Lake, was recently acquired by a Russian magnate for about 35 million euros.

 The new owner wants to keep only a few pieces of furniture and art for himself so unfortunately the majority of the furnishing and the precious collection will go under the hammer at Sotheby's in London on March 18th, 2009. After Yves Saint Laurent's... another big auction. 550 pieces in a faithfully reconstructed space, even with walls decorated like in the original villa.


 This "house" was the absolute favourite of Versace, like a sanctuary, a Proustian space where he could relax and contemplate the beauty surrounding him.
He also loved to spend time here with friends like Elton John, Naomi Campbell, Madonna, Jennifer Lopez (who celebrated her wedding at the villa).
In Milan he owned (now his sister, Donatella, lives there) a XVIII building in the historical center of the city, then other luxurious residences in New York and Miami, where he was murdered 10 years ago. 


Passion for ancient Rome,
 extravagant luxury,
 exhibition of wealth.                                                                     02_b_versace

Renaissance and especially neoclassical taste                                                                    01_b_versace
Another piece of recent history and another collection dispersed soon.
                                               End of an era of hedonism?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A House on Como Lake

                                          This is a House I can make my home any time.
A 1960 house renovated by a Milanese architect who spends week-ends there to relax from the busy city life.  Milan is less than an hour away from the lake.


I always loved wisteria and I would plant it everywhere if I was not afraid of its potent roots, but luckily I had wisterias in my previous houses and fond memories of reading books under its canopy while sheltered from the rain (so thick it can be) or from the sun, at the same time surrounded by that subtle,sweet scent.


It took the owners a few years to renovate this house and bring modern comfort to it without altering its nature.
The original architectural details were left intact and even acquired more visual impact, like the veranda, the old windows and doors.

Below is the view from one bedroom. My sister's holiday house is just across the lake, in Moltrasio, where I often spend some relaxing times when in Milan.  Versace's mansion and Clooney's house are just a few minutes away from hers!

A beautiful contrast between the old stones in the garden and the ..."stark", contemporary sofa (Bubble by Philippe Starck for Kartell, founded in 1949 by Giulio Castelli).

 The owner's  strong personality and eclectic taste allowed him to decorate in a unique way, without compromise.  Table light on the mantel "Wo-Tum-Bu" by Ingo Maurer, table by Saarinen for Knoll.

Another view of the garden, which took shape along the years and now taken care of mostly by the owners themselves.

                                              I would feel at home in this house, would you?
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