Monday, June 29, 2009

Colour me very happy

What a nice surprise to find this morning my name in a list of favourite posts, compiled by Maria at Colour Me Happy. Maria is a friend, a beautiful and vibrant lady but most of all a very knowledgeable and respected designer (her image above was taken when she was in Calgary as a keynote speaker). She is also the most generous blogger, giving away advice and all her expertise in colour and interior design. Many times joking I said to her "Who would pay for your advice when we already learn everything from your posts?"
But of course if we learn so much from her blog can you imagine how much more she can give a client during a consultation? Having someone like Maria when decisions need to be made will create the perfect house.
Thanks Maria for putting me in a list which includes Super Designers and Bloggers!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Venice Biennale

(Text and Images are from La Biennale di Venezia official site, worth exploring to know more about the most important, oldest international art exhibition in the world, born in 1895 and evolved into what it is today, please see also: Wikipedia).

Biennale Art 53rd International Art Exhibition
Making Worlds

The 53rd International Art Exhibition, titled Making Worlds // Fare Mondi // Bantin Duniyan // Weltenmachen // Construire des Mondes…, directed by Daniel Birnbaum, is open in the Giardini and the Arsenale venues, as well as in various other locations around the city. The opening and awards ceremony was held on Saturday 6th June. Opening hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Giardini closed on Mondays, Arsenale closed on Tuesdays) until 22nd November.

Making Worlds // Hacer Mundos
53rd International Art Exhibition
A work of art is more than an object, more than a commodity. It represents a vision of the world, and if taken seriously must be seen as a way of “making a world”. A few signs marked on paper, a barely touched canvas, or a vast installation can amount to different ways of world-making. (Daniel Birnbaum)

Artists and National Participations
53rd International Art Exhibition
There are some 90 artists in the main exhibition, Making Worlds. Participating countries are amounting to the record number of 77, with exhibitions in their own pavilions, and a further 44 collateral events from international institutes and organizations are exhibited in various places across the city of Venice.
(I just need to add that representing Canada is extraordinary artist (part time Vancouverite...) Mark Lewis, at Canada pavilion).

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A classic apartment

A spacious apartment, in a classic Milanese building end of 19th century which represented an example of the affluent lifestyle of the time.
The layout was already great and it was only slightly modified to create more spaciousness and a sense of more freedom but the corridors remained as a partition of the various rooms. Sliding black mirror panels were installed to create more rooms within the rooms and more drama...
In the living area a small table "Tulip" by Saarinen for Knoll. On the wall two 18th century portraits and "Saw" by Jason McLean. The library divides the living areas from the private ones.
The architect found old reclaimed oak and designed the new floor following the style of the end of the 19th century. The new windows were also designed like the typical ones of that time, the original doors received new beveled glass panels. The living area has a dormeuse by Mies van De Rohe, velvet chairs by Ralph Lauren Home, a contemporary leather sofa. The fireplace is original and so is the mirror above. Technology was purposely made invisible, even television screens are all hidden not to overwhelm the classic feeling of this home.

The art collection is mainly photography, bought from emerging artists, friends, artists who may never emerge...said the owner... but always bought with the heart.

The bed was designed by the owner, an architect, and recalls the 70's, with the platform covered in pale lilac corduroy. The purple chair is an icon of modern design.

The unusual light is "Pizza-Kobra" by Ron Arad for I Guzzini, an unstructured, flexible lamp which at times resembles a pizza, at times a cobra...depending on the mood at bed time!

Some pieces like the Jacobsen chair or the dining table Art Deco from the 30's followed the owner from house to house. In the dining area chairs by Konstantin Grcic for Skitsch (a new Italian design brand) and contemporary Venetian glass chandelier covered in silver foil create an harmonious blend of styles.

The bathroom with the reclaimed oak floor has a classic look, enhanced by the travertine marble counter and accent wall. Again black mirrors play with reflections and further enlarge the space.

Another view of a corridor and the kitchen custom designed using elements by Minotti. The table looks like reclaimed wood and it most probably is.

A young architect who chose to have his home in a traditional historic context, in the heart of the city.

A contemporary apartment with a classic soul.

You may also like to read:
Art and Design collection
A home with a story
A White House
A timeless house in Tuscany
A Loft in Milan

Monday, June 22, 2009

Made in Italy in New York

Year 1900
The first 100 cases of Martini vermouth arrive at New York port. The Italian vermouth encounters great success. In the 60's a young artist creates new posters to publicize the product...his name is Andy Warhol...

Year 1948
Salvatore Ferragamo opens a store on Park Avenue (25 years after his first American store in Los Angeles!). Today Ferragamo is on Fifth Avenue and it is his biggest store in the world. A shoe from the 40's designed for Judy Garland


Year 1950
Vespa by Piaggio zig zags in Manhattan happily until 1985, when it withdraws from the US market due to antipollution regulations. Vespa comes back in 2000 and now has about 20% of USA scooter's market.

Year 1952
Olivetti typewriters Lettera 22 and Lexicon 80 become part of the permanent Design collection of MoMa, followed in 1969 by the iconic Valentine by Ettore Sottsass,


Year 1972
at MoMa opens a new exhibition: "Italy, the new domestic landscape" with the best Italian names like Zanuso, Bellini, Joe Colombo


Year 1981
Flos opens a store in New York presenting new design pieces that changed the way of lighting. The latest Euroluce "Smithfield" already a hit, is designed by Jasper Morrison


Year 1988
B&B Italia opens in Soho


Year 1996
Ettore Sottsass receives the prestigious Design Award by the Brooklyn Museum. In 1956 his first trip To New York that was for him like "Metropolis" by Fritz Lang.


Year 1996
The first Artemide store opens on Greene street (now part of 15 stores in the USA) conquering the public with his lights. Here the classic "Fato" designed in 1969 by the genius of Gio' Ponti.


Year 1998
Snaidero cucine (Italian for kitchens)


Year 2002
On Greene street opens Flou (present already on the market for many years). Here the latest model "Mark" by Carlo Colombo


Year 2006
Gold medal for Italian Architecture and the creator of Paris' Beaubourg, architect Renzo Piano receives praise for the enlargement of Morgan Library. A year later he designs the new building of The New York Times.


Year 2006
In the "Italian mile" on Madison Avenue, Alessi opens his second store, after the one in Soho.


Year 2007
Designed by Patricia Urquiola and Martino Berghinz the showroom Moroso opens on Greene Street, near the temple of Design, Moss Gallery.


Year 2009
Valcucine renews his store in Soho with eco-sustainability in mind.


These are only a few names among many others "taking Manhattan"
and because of the first image of this post... I propose a toast to Made in Italy!

You may also like to read:
After Milan, New York
I Saloni

Friday, June 19, 2009

Fashionable day in Milano

Wonderful Fifi of fun, informative, creative and colourful blog Fifi Flowers today has posted on Milano, my first city. As I said in my comment to that post it was a Proustian moment to see those images of rainy days.
I immediately felt like being there, I heard the sound of traffic on wet cobblestones, the Tram swooshing by, the chatting of people strolling under the arcade in Corso Vittorio Emanuele, crowded especially on rainy days, the music of a church bell, I saw the colours and lights of the stores windows, more vivid in a rainy day, I even felt the smell of an espresso coming out of a steamy machine at "Barba del Corso" and the sound of a spoon stirring the sugar in it and the clicking of a cup returning to its saucer.
A city in fact is also defined by its noises, its smells, its play with light, not only by architecture, just like a house where every single little noise like the opening of a door, the squeak of a drawer, the distinctive sound of the bell are so familiar that become integral part of our home.
You may also like to read my posts on Brillante Design Travel blog.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

An Italian version of Moss


About an hour from Milan, in a city that also likes to hide its treasures, a creative family has chosen to open an extraordinary store not at street level but on the first floor of an historic, four centuries old, building.

Inspired by Moss in New York but certainly more fascinating, if not just for the location... Rubens spent some time here, maybe painted some walls?  and Flaubert three centuries later wrote many pages in these rooms.

The elegant space now houses a concept store restored by the brilliant designer, Lebanese-Milanese, William Sawaya, who chose not to alter the space to leave it free to breathe its history.

The whole family is involved in the store, from buying the textiles (Agnona, Pierre Frey...) to selecting the books (Taschen, Phaidon, among other high end publishers) to choose contemporary lines of jewellery like Van der Straaten or pieces by Marcel Wanders , to create a personal relation with each client.



A store born from passion and flourishing because of creativity and tenacity.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


I know the title is made up, but on Saturday I went to a workshop and I ended up networking and socializing.
The workshop was held at Fluff, in Vancouver, and it was very informative and fun. To know more about it you can read a wonderful, informative post by  Kulli Yee who I was glad to meet there.
The social part was even more fun since that the moment I introduced myself by name to a lady she immediately recognized me by my blog who was recommended to her by a mutual friend, Ivan Meade: I felt like a celebrity for a moment.
The fun part was to create a team of three people:
Susan Hargraves, a residential stylist
Sharon Wood, an interior redesign specialist
and myself were then challenged to stage a fireplace mantel and a table.
For each project we had a card showing only pictures of a mantel, a ceiling light, the room's palette and a tight budget!
1st project: How to choose accessories for this mantel:
A traditional marble fireplace, classic chandelier, neutral colours.
We started with a selection of monochromatic art, a canvas with black and white painting of a stylized flower, we gathered a bronze vase and a black round object...we looked at that and we decided we needed more colour so the art went and a new piece with vibrant orange petals came up.
Walking around the place we thought maybe a lamp would help and we immediately spotted a coral base one that was perfect for our project. We tried an orange bowl with brown balls inside but then we  found three black small round, pebble like, candles and we decided that was it!
The instructor was laughing saying we had three projects at once so many times we changed things around...but it was worth it!
Susan gave a brief explanation on how we made our choices.

2nd project: how to accessorize a table given this basic elements:
A contemporary look with a black round pendant light, a sleek fireplace, neutral colours.
We started with some white square plates and bowls, then Susan and Sharon arrived proudly holding three big silver vases...I said we can't set a table for dining with those... nobody will be able to see why don't we set the table as a decorative piece?

We found the runner, we changed the chairs, from white leather ones to these more graphic and bold, at that point only two were needed, Sharon brought a branch with delicate white flowers, she was trying to find calla-lilies or orchids but I thought the sweet peas she found were indeed sweet and less formal.
On the chairs two small rectangular pillows with dark grey and black polka dots were the final touch.
Here is Sharon giving an explanation of our unusual choices.

Did I mention we had only 15 minutes to create each vignette? trying to compromise our three (not so different) visions, sourcing frantically in the huge warehouse for props and accessories and yes also trying to take some pictures at the same time.
I think we were a great team and we came up with elegant, simple, different solutions.

Both Susan Hargraves and another smart lady I was glad to meet, Liz Mackay, residential consultant, were also interviewed recently by Ivan Meade and you can click on their names to know them better.
It was a fun way to spend a few hours in a workshop and make new friends.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Thanks for the award

Design Ties received some well deserved awards and they also put my blog on a list of
15 best Canadian blogs...
From my heart a big thank you to Kelly and Victoria ...!

Friday, June 5, 2009


I was reading today the latest post by Style Court.
Courtney had the great idea  of the "Three Wishes" and asked Interior designer Grant K.Gibson, whose blog I also follow daily, to describe his. If I can add a comment I am sure Grant had another wish come true having just returned from Venice.
When I read that one of his wishes was to own Villa del Balbianello at Como Lake, being a Milanese myself I could not pass to mention again the superb Villa which luckily was donated to  F.A.I. (worth looking at the website) and which we can now visit during the year.

In the spring of 2006, the movie Casino Royale was filmed in front of the villa (the outdoor scenes of Bond recovering).The same villa can also be seen in Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones.
I often spend time at Como Lake, in Moltrasio, not far from that villa and I was there when they were filming Ocean's Eleven in 2001. The whole area was so excited (Brad was there with Jennifer, they were still together then, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia were sipping cappuccino in town...) George Clooney soon after  bought a beautiful 18th Century villa 10 minutes from us and here are some images you may enjoy.

This is the facade, simple, elegant, neoclassical style.

The dining area with the original large fireplace and floor. The monk's table may be from previous centuries (it is called "Fratino" in Italian)

The master bedroom (not my favourite interior decoration...but who would care???). The floor is an elegant ornate "terrazzo veneziano" or "graniglia di marmo".

The ceiling...apparently George bought the villa because very fond of the ornate ceilings and he said in an interview "This was before television, so you just watched the ceiling"...well if this ceiling is in the master bedroom it would be so great to forget about television and I am sure many of us would looove to watch that ceiling...while resting...

This is where he maintains his "physique du role"

and here is where he can relax after so much excitement (!!!)
and, just between us, when in Moltrasio we can still see him playing soccer at times with the kids outside the church! What a guy!
In my "Art, Architecture, Interiors" tour in Milan I added a night at Como lake because I find it magnificent and also never know...
Thanks to Courtney and to Grant for the sudden inspiration they gave me to write this post.

You may also like to read:
A House on Como Lake
The end to an era of excess
James Bond's bedroom
Clicky Web Analytics