31 Marzo 2020 / / +deco

Like a large part of the world’s population, I am on a lockdown because of the virus Covid-19 and I have been confined to my house for the past three weeks. This period has forced me to review some of my thought processes and points of view enhanced by the constant daily frenzy. This uncertain period has revolutionized the rhythm of our days, leaving a trail of lost appointments and meetings, leaving time for thoughts and reflection.

Outdoor spaces are now desolated and socialising is taking a new direction. On one side, the forced cohabitation has made us rediscover the joy of being together and the art of patience, on the other side, in the majority of the cases, relationships have been forced down the virtual route but maybe more frequent, sweetened by the fear.

We are seeing numerous photographs of the city where I live, Rome, empty and desolate as it has never been before and the ones I’m publishing here have caught my attention due to their impact.

It is a project by m²ft , an architecture studio established by Flavio Martella and Maria Vittoria Tesei based in Madrid and Rome.

They have had this to say::

“Rome. A chaotic, noisy, populated, busy, polluted, lively city. The images of the places and monuments of Rome are impossible to separate from the thousands of people who crowd it: they are the continuous layer that characterizes this city. Or at least the city before the coronavirus.

Today Rome presents itself, like many other cities in the world, in a vest in which it had never been seen. Pure architecture without people; pure form without users; pure urbanization without urban population; pure public space without public. A temporary scenario that has the flavour of the apocalyptic, reminding of dystopian tales and movies that were hoped to remain only in the collective imagination.

We knew in fact that we lived in a fragile reality, always close to collapse, but we didn’t think it could be so weak. But thanks to coronavirus we are entering a new era where all the past choices can be questioned, having tasted, even briefly, what we are facing.This is therefore a project that critically addresses the new urban situations that are emerging from the pandemic. It then displays the toxic atmosphere that is consciously and unconsciously attributed to the public space and to all situations related to it, accentuating the idea of fear that today is associated with it. To do so, we use a graphic style inspired by science fiction, to highlight how, until a few days ago, these situations seemed to have happened only in stories.”

Images courtesy of m²ft Studio

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21 Marzo 2020 / / +deco

The incredible Yves Saint Laurent Museum (incredible should be inseparable part of the name) is one of those pieces of architecture that just sits perfectly in the location where it was built and looks like it has always been there even if it has a very contemporary feeling.

I have a thing for bricks, especially red bricks. It might be because I grew up in Rome, among the Roman ruins and fascist architecture that used bricks frequently. Recently I developed a soft spot for traditional grey Chinese bricks as well, often used by the beautiful architecture firm Neri & Hu.

The Yves Saint Laurent Museum in Marrakech was designed by Studio KO on a plot of land close to the Jardin Majorelle; it covers an area of 3,908 square metres and hosts 2 exhibitions, has an auditorium, a library, a coffee shop, a restaurant and a bookshop. It was commissioned by Pierre Bergé, who recently died, in memory of his partner, the legendary fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent.

The architecture perfectly balances volumes and sinuous curves, different materials like the concrete of the reinforced structure, red brick made from industrial clay, the natural terracotta with a base in pre-cast terrazza of the outside facing and golden details.

Studio KO, founded by architects Karl Fournier and Olivier Marty, hasn’t left anything to chance. The interiors are sublime. Bricks are used for patterns on the outdoor shell like wood is used to design patterns in the interiors.

Yves Saint Laurent Museum in Marrakech is an example of elegance, a happy combination of forms and colors, the perfect homage to a master of fashion and a genius creative mind. It is no doubt one of my favourite pieces of architecture from last few years.

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Photographs by Dan Glasser, courtesy of Karla Otto Paris.

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12 Marzo 2020 / / +deco

Dalla settimana scorsa, la societa’ ha dovuto progressivamente ed inesorabilmente rallentare il passo. La diffusione inesorabile del virus Covid-19 ha obbligato la gente a fermarsi e a riconsiderare le proprie abitudini. Il Governo Italiano sta facendo un buon lavoro nell’informare i cittadini senza alimentare il senso di panico e nel prendere decisioni finalizzate a limitare la propagazione di questo nuovo ed imprevedibile virus.

Per distrarci da questo clima d’incertezza, vediamo cosa sta facendo in questo periodo Vito Nesta. Ve lo ricordate? Sono sicura di si’. Abbiamo parlato delle creazioni di questo designer di origine Pugliese piu’ di una volta e alcuni mesi ho pubblicato un’intervista in cui ci ha spiegato i suoi recenti progetti e ha risposto ad alcune domande riguardanti il suo processo creativo.

Oggi vediamo uno delle sue ultime fatiche, la decorazione di Boa Boa, un ristorante di fusione-asiatica in Via Pontonaccio a Milano. Vito ha creato un interno divertente e rilassato, ha usato colori naturali, carte da parati accattivanti, deliziosi paralumi, velluto e un tocco d’oro, tutti elementi che danno al ristorante personalita’.

Dobbiamo sperare che Milano torni alla normalita’ quanto prima cosi’ che potro’ io anche provare la cucina di Boa Boa che promette bene.

(Images courtesy Vito Nesta)

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24 Febbraio 2020 / / +deco

When Clara Cebrian asked her friend the architect Pia Mendaro to do her place up, the brief was simple but tricky: be ‘almost nothing’ to work as ‘almost anything’.

The place is a 100 square meter warehouse in Madrid, a 10 meter square space with downspouts, a gable roof supported by two steel rafters, a facade with two windows and a door. A fascinating industrial shell basically. As Pia explains: “We were sure about three things: that the space must be understood as what it is – a square -, that we had to use a kitchen that Clara had bought in a sale, and that the downspouts were where they were and were immovable.

We decided to make a ‘covert wall’; a front where we could place the kitchen (everyone always wants to be in the kitchen). The kitchen would become the main protagonist of the space, and behind it, the bathroom and facilities would be hidden. The wall passes under the belt of the trusses, allowing the warehouse to be understood as it is, and prevents doors from opening directly onto the space (especially the bathroom).

In the process of locating Clara’s sleeping area, we thought of making a wheeled bed, a cabin, a box with windows … until we decided to detach ourselves from the ground. We thereby provide a horizon in the warehouse; a connection with the outside that we believe necessary for mental health. It ended up being the project’s highlight: a very light, semi-hanging platform, which in turn supports a small elevation of the roof. We designed this structure with Manuel Ocaña; 20mm steel rounds working on compression and suspension, and 8mm corrugated rods in tension. The platform accepts a maximum of 5 people on it, so we made a ladder with wheels that could hide: skinny habits.”

The result is an airy place where you feel free. A versatile space no fuss just fun, ready to host people, art or just a lot of light.

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Photographs by Manuel Ocana, courtesy by Pia Mendaro.

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24 Febbraio 2020 / / +deco

Quando Clara Cebrian ha chiesto alla sua amica architetto Pia Mendaro di aiutarla a sistemare la sua nuova casa, le indicazioni erano semplici ma non facili: che fosse ‘quasi niente’ come ‘quasi nulla’.

La casa e’ un ex-magazzino di 100 metri quadrati a Madrid, uno spazio di 10 metri per 10 metri con dei pluviali, un tetto a timpano supportato da travi in acciaio e una facciata con una porta e due finestre. Pia Mendaro spiega: “Eravamo sicuri di 3 cose: che lo spazio dovesse essere percepito come e’- un quadrato-, che dovevamo usare la cucina che Clara aveva comprato in saldi, e che i pluviali rimanessero dov’erano perche’ inamovibili.

Abbiamo deciso di creare un muro ‘copertura’; sul cui fronte potessimo appoggiare la cucina (tutti vogliono sempre stare in cucina). La cucina cosi’ diventa la protagonista dello spazio, e dietro ad essa, nascosti il bagno e i servizi. Il muro passa sotto le travature, permettendo a questa struttura individuale di essere compresa per quello che e’, e fa si’ che le porte non si aprano direttamente sulla grande sala (soprattutto il bagno).

Durante il processo di posizionamento del letto di Clara, abbiamo pensato di fare un letto con ruote, una cabina, una scatola con finestre…fino a quando abbiamo deciso di staccarci dal suolo. Abbiamo cosi’ procurato un orizzonte nell’ ex-magazzino; una connessione con lo spazio esterno che riteniamo necessaria per la salute mentale. E’ diventato il punto focale del processo: una piattaforma leggera, semi sospesa, che a sua volta sostiene una piccola elevazione del tetto. Abbiamo disegnato questa struttura con Manuel Ocaña; tondini di acciaio da 20mm che lavorano alla compressione e sospensione, e funi da 8mm di corrugato in tensione. La piattaforma sostiene 5 persone, per cui abbiamo creato una vera e propria scala con ruote.”

Il risultato e’ uno spazio arioso e in cui ti senti libero; un posto versatile , divertente e per niente pretenzioso, pronto per essere riempito di gente, arte o semplicemente luce.

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Photographs Manuel Ocana, courtesy of Pia Mendaro.

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9 Febbraio 2020 / / +deco

Palermo is one of my favourite cities in the entire world. It is a magical, fascinating, exotic, elegant place where life seems to be so sweet that you almost feel compelled to move there. Every time I go, I discover new incredible things and my love for the city grows a bit more.

One of my recent discoveries was Palazzo Contefederico, a few steps from from the buzzing Ballaro’ market. This sixteenth century palace is still inhabited by the Count Alessandro Federico and his family; one of Alessandro’s sons guided me around the marvellous rooms of the Palazzo Contefederico. The fact that the tours are led by a member of the family and the fact it is still their home make the experience unique.

It is a very inspirational visit for the interior design lovers with colourful original tiled floors, beautiful pictures and frames, precious wall-coverings and numerous delightful glimpses into another world.

Also unmissable is the majolicas collection at Le Stanze al Genio, that I wrote about some time ago.

Unfortunately the vintage shop Mercurio & C that I photographed last year closed down (see the post). A boring jewellery shop opened instead (even if originally it was a jewellery shop).

(Photographs by Elena Giavarini)

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9 Febbraio 2020 / / +deco

Palermo e’ una delle mie citta’ preferite al mondo. E’ intrigante, affascinante, esotica, elegante ed un posto dove la vita sembra possa essere dolce, un posto che ti attrae come una sirena in un mare omerico. Ogni volta che vado a Palermo, scopro qualcosa di nuovo e parto con un nuovo bagaglio pieno d’ispirazione. Non sorprede che il mio amore per questa citta’ aumenti di volta in volta.

Una delle mie recenti scoperte e’ Palazzo Contefederico, a pochi passi dal vivace mercato di Ballaro‘. Questo palazzo seicentesco e’ ancora abitato dal Conte Alessandro Federico e dalla sua famiglia; uno dei figli del conte mi ha guidato per le meravigliose stanze del Palazzo Contefederico. Il fatto che le visite siano tenute da un membro della famiglia e il fatto che e’ ancora la loro casa rende l’esperienza unica.

E’ una visita molto interessante anche per gli appassionati di interior design visto i coloratissimi pavimenti originali , i quadri, le foto e le cornici, i preziosi tessuti e parati, i colori, i numerosi bellissimi scorci. Potete farvi un’idea dalle mie foto qui sotto.

A Palermo da non perdere e’ anche la collezione privata di maioliche a Le Stanze al Genio, di cui ho scritto qualche tempo fa.

Purtroppo invece il negozio vintage Mercurio & C che sono andata a fotografare l’anno scorso (vedi il post) ha chiuso e ha lasciato posto ad un’anonima gioielleria (originariamente era una gioielleria ma non anonima).

(Fotografie di Elena Giavarini)

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29 Gennaio 2020 / / +deco

Ho voglia di andare a New York e starci per qualche settimana, se non per qualche mese. Vorrei starci abbastanza per vivere la citta’, infilarmi nelle sue pieghe, avere il tempo di scoprirla.

Da circa due anni, leggo principalmente autobiografie e biografie. Trovo estremamente affascinante leggere degli sviluppi di una persona che ha creato o fatto qualcosa di memorabile, che sia un albergatore, un musicista o uno stilista.

Il libro di Patty Smith “Just Kids” mi ha catapultato nella New York negli anni Settanta e Ottanta, nelle stanze del Chelsea Hotel, nei bar pre-Aids della Grande Mela.

Un altro tassello che ha cementato la mia fascinazione per una citta’ che racchiude il mondo ma che pur rimane un universo a parte.

Allora, tanto per farvi venire voglia, vi faccio vedere le foto di un hotel in cui sarebbe bello soggiornare, l’Ace Hotel , un albergo di tendenza in un palazzo del 1904. Provare per credere.

Immagini cortesia dell’Ace Hotel

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29 Gennaio 2020 / / +deco

I feel like going to New York and spending there a few weeks if not months. I would like to spend there enough time to really be able to explore the city and slip into its folds.

In the last two years ago, I have read mainly autobiographies and biographies. I find extremely interesting reading about the developments and moods of a person who has created or done something memorable, never mind if he/she is a hotelier or a fashion designer.

The book “Just Kids” by Patty Smith have catapulted me in the Nineteen Eighties and Nineteen Ninety New York, in the buzzing Chelsea Hotel rooms, in the pre-HIV bars of the big Apple.

Another tassel that has cemented my attraction for a city that encorporates the entire world but still manage to be almost a state in itself.

So, just to put you in the mood, I am going to show you some images of an hotel where it would be nice to stay, the Ace Hotel, a trendy hotel in a 1904 building. Try to believe.

Photos courtesy Ace Hotel.

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10 Gennaio 2020 / / +deco

This year seems to have started well. Nobody I know has mentioned the word “SALES” yet, which makes me hope that people are becoming a bit more conservative; Emanuele Farneti, Vogue Italia’s editor in chief, has decided to not publish any photos in the magazine’s January issue and replace them with illustrations, “in a nod to the need to take action to save the environment”; and at the Golden Globes a vegan menu was served, a sign that finally the mainstream is beginning to realise that some choices can have a massive ripple effect environment and therefore have a more positive influence. Things are moving in the right direction at last. 

I am in this mood as well: save the planet, save yourself from frusrtating consumerism, save your brain from too much internet connection.

One of the best discovery I made this year it is that I can set time limits for apps, categories or websites on my iPhone. For instance if you put 15 minutes as a time limit for Instagram, after that time frame your phone asks you if it is ok to close down or if you want to to ignore the limit and continue browing. This function gives you a concrete idea of how much time you spend zoning out in front of a screen, navigating through too many images and too much incomplete information. It also suggests that it is probably time to stop and that you could be doing something else. I am also making a conscious effort to look at the sky more. I have noticed I walk most of the time looking down or at eye level (when not looking at my phone screen). I look at people, at shops, at the floor, at houses or buildings but rarely up. When I do look at the sky, I find it soothing. It is almost a little massage for my eyes.

Joanna Lavén‘s interiors are consistent with my 2020 mood: elegant and somehow sustainable because they are timeless. I love the light in this apartment and the subtly serious, very tasteful use of colors. 

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