tag archives: italy

my husband, bob, and i just returned from venice.  we had never been there before during the venice art biennale.

san marco

doge’s palace | piazza san marco | venice, italy

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

punta della dogana

dan vo | untitled diving board | 2007

slip of the tongue | punta della dogana | 2015 venice art biennale-collateral event | 12 april-31 december 2015 | venice, italy

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

san giorgio maggiore

church of san giorgio maggiore | venice, italy

designed by andrea palladio in 1565

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

i keep noticing geometric patterns that remind me of the blue and white ceramic tile that italian architect *gio ponti (1891-1979) designed for the parco dei prinicipi hotel in sorrento, italy.

hall | parco dei principi hotel | sorrento, italy

gio ponti | laurel pattern blue and white ceramic tile | 1962

photo credits royal group and dwell

bar | parco dei principi hotel | sorrento, italy

gio ponti | starburst pattern blue and white ceramic tile | 1962

photo credits royal group and dwell

 the parco dei principi hotel, which opened in 1962, is considered one of gio ponti’s masterpieces.  the hotel was restored from 1999-2004, and is now a listed building.  gio ponti designed not only the architecture, but also the interiors of the 96 room hotel.  so, the parco dei principi could be considered a mid-century modern precursor of 21st century design hotels.  for the interiors, which have a blue and white design scheme, ponti designed 30 patterns of 20 x 20 cm (7.87 x 7.87 in) ceramic tile.  the maiolica tile, which was originally manufactured by d’agostino in salerno, italy, has now been re-issued by la riggiola.

by rotating the tiles, ponti created four different patterns from this design

photo credits royal group and dwell

junior suite | parco dei principi hotel | sorrento, italy

gio ponti | pinwheel pattern blue and white ceramic tile | 1962

photo credits royal group and dwell

‘shortlist’ | world of interiors magazine | march 2015 | page 45

rockman & rockman | cube 6 side table

photo credits world of interiors

rockman & rockman | cube 1, cube 6, and cube 7 side tables

photo credits rockman & rockman

prada | fall/winter 2015 fashion show

photo credit the sartorialist

classic room | parco dei principi hotel | sorrento, italy

gio ponti | tetrahedron pattern blue and white ceramic tile | 1962

photo credits royal group and dwell

‘antennae roundup’ | world of interiors magazine | march 2015 | page 19

beija flor | tetrahedron pattern printed vinyl PVC floor covering

photo credits world of interiors

alexandra champalimaud for the rug company | gaelic yellow and gaelic brown rugs

inspired by carved stones found while traveling in india

photo credits the rug company and the rug company

pentreath & hall | tetrahedron pattern wrapping paper

based on stone floor and marble patterns by 18th century designer, batty langley

photo credits pentreath & hall

dining room | parco dei principi hotel | sorrento, italy

gio ponti | losenge pattern blue and white ceramic tile | 1962

photo credits j p moser and dwell

christian louboutin | sole print panettone wallets

photo credits christian louboutin

deluxe sea view room | parco dei principi hotel | sorrento, italy

gio ponti | circular pattern blue and white ceramic tile | 1962

photo credit royal group

‘all-star lineup’ | elle decor magazine | march 2015 | page 134

amethyst artisan | eclipse cement tile

photo credits elle decor and martyn thompson

 

amethyst artisan | eclipse cement tile

photo credits amethyst artisan

my husband, bob, and i stayed at the parco dei principi hotel when we visited the amalfi coast.  like the interiors and the architecture, the location is spectacular!  the hotel is built on a cliff, overlooking the bay of naples.

parco dei principi hotel | sorrento, italy

rendering | parco dei principi hotel | sorrento, italy

photo credits royal group

 the beach, where we relaxed every evening before dinner, is located at the bottom of the cliff.

beach | parco dei principi hotel | sorrento, italy

photo credit royal group

‘blue sky,

blue sea,

blue islands,

blue maiolicas…’

-gio ponti

  *about giovanni (gio) ponti (1891-1979)

italian architect gio ponti could be considered one of the most influential 20th century designers.  his most famous building is probably the pirelli tower in milan, italy.

 gio ponti | pirelli tower | milan, italy | 1958

photo credit gioponti.com

gio ponti was also an industrial designer.  he designed porcelain for richard ginori, lighting for artemide, fontana arte, and venini, as well as furniture for domus nova.  the superleggera chair no. 699, produced by cassina since 1957, is probably his most famous furniture design.

gio ponti | superleggera chair no. 699 | parco dei principi hotel | sorrento, italy

photo credit dwell

ponti, who established domus architecture, art, and design magazine, was also a writer, an editor, and a publisher.

cover | domus magazine | january 1931

photo credit gio ponti archives

do candida höfer’s photographs make you want to travel?  they make me want to explore europe, even though i just got back from london, where candida höfer: a return to italy is showing at ben brown fine arts from 12 february-12 april 2013.

you may recognize candida höfer’s photographs from one of your favorite american lifestyle or shelter magazines, such as town and country, elle decor, or veranda. 

candida höfer photograph | cosima von bulow pavoncelli’s living room | sagoponak, NY | interior design by markham roberts

photo credit francesco lagnese | town and country magazine | november 2010

candida höfer photograph | frederic fekkai’s living room | new york, NY | interior design by robert couturier

photo credit william abranowicz | elle decor | october 2010

candida höfer photograph | jill stuart’s living room | new york, NY | design by anabelle selldorf

photo credit simon upton | elle decor | october 2009

candida höfer photograph | entry of a carnegie hill townhouse | new york, NY  | interior design by timothy whealon

photo credit max kim-bee | veranda | october 2010

höfer’s photographs are interior portraits of public buildings.

‘i wanted to capture how people behave in public buildings,

so I started taking photographs of theatres, palaces, opera houses, libraries…

after some time, it became apparent to me that what people do in these spaces

–and what these spaces do to them

–is clearer when no one is present…’ 

-candida höfer

höfer’s photographs of uninhabited interiors have become her hallmark.

in an interview with the guardian, she described teatro scientifico bibiena mantova I as her ‘best shot’ in the london exhibition.

candida höfer | teatro scientifico bibiena mantova I | 2010 | lightjet print | edition of 6

photo courtesy of ben brown fine arts

‘i like this shot because it has an intriguing ambiguity of scale:

the theatre appears large yet somehow small;

and it is perfectly formed of grand individual structures.

this is not a shot about emotion.

it’s about colour, lines, light distribution

–and inner balance.’

-candida höfer

höfer doesn’t alter or digitally enhance her photographs.  instead, she uses existing light sources and long exposures to capture the details.

candida höfer | teatro scientifico bibiena mantova III | 2010 | lightjet print | edition of 6

photo courtesy of ben brown fine arts

she often shoots her interior portraits from a one point perspective.  this composition, which is another one of her hallmarks, creates continuity within and between each portrait series.  in addition to the compositional continuity, each series also has an institutional or a geographical theme.  the london exhibition is a grand tour of northern italian architecture:

mantova

candida höfer | palazzo ducale mantova III | 2011 | c print | edition of 6

photo courtesy of ben brown fine arts

candida höfer | palazzo ducale mantova I | 2011 | lightjet print | edition of 6

photo courtesy of ben brown fine arts

candida höfer | palazzo ducale mantova IV | 2011 | lightjet print | edition of 6

photo courtesy of ben brown fine arts

candida höfer | palazzo ducale mantova V | 2011 | lightjet print | edition of 6

photo courtesy of ben brown fine arts

candida höfer | biblioteca teresiana mantova I | 2010 | lightjet print | edition of 6

photo courtesy of ben brown fine arts

candida höfer | museo civico di palazzo te mantova IV | 2010 | lightjet print | edition of 6

photo courtesy of ben brown fine arts

vicenza

candida höfer | teatro olimpico vicenza I | 2010 | lightjet print | edition of 6

photo courtesy of ben brown fine arts

candida höfer | teatro olimpico vicenza II | 2010 | lightjet print | edition of 6

photo courtesy of ben brown fine arts

candida höfer | teatro olimpico vicenza III | 2010 | lightjet print | edition of 6

photo courtesy of ben brown fine arts

sabbioneta

candida höfer | teatro all’antica sabbioneta I | 2010 | lightjet print | edition of 6

photo courtesy of ben brown fine arts

candida höfer | galleria degli antichi sabbioneta I | 2010 | lightjet print | edition of 6

photo courtesy of ben brown fine arts
carpi

candida höfer | teatro comunale di carpi III | 2011 | lightjet print | edition of 6

photo courtesy of ben brown fine arts

candida höfer | teatro comunale di carpi I | 2011 | lightjet print | edition of 6

photo courtesy of ben brown fine arts
venezia

candida höfer | teatro la fenice di venezia V | 2011 | c print | edition of 6

photo courtesy of ben brown fine arts

candida höfer | teatro la fenice di venezia III | 2011 | c print | edition of 6

photo courtesy of ben brown fine arts

wouldn’t you love to take a grand tour of northern italy?  especially, the palladian villas of the veneto?

during our recent holiday, my husband, bob, and i finally visited villa necchi campiglio.  the architecture, the details, the materials, the furnishings…  no wonder many consider villa necchi campiglio one of the ‘must see’ sights in milan!

history

gigina necchi campiglio (1901-2001), her husband angelo campiglio (1891-1984), and sister nedda necchi (1900-1993) built their urban villa in central milan between 1932 and 1935.  the necchi campiglio family were socialites and industrialists.  (think necchi sewing machines…)  so, they could afford to purchase the most modern amenities, and the most luxurious materials.  and, to hire leading architects, distinguished designers, and master craftsmen.

architect piero portaluppi (1888-1967) designed the villa in the rationalist style, which was fashionable in italy from the 1920’s through the 1940’s.  rationalism, a predecessor of modernism, explored how structure could create space without needing decoration.  while the rationalist exterior of the villa is more austere, art deco elements make the interiors more glamorous, and more luxurious.

the necchi campiglio family lived in the villa until 2001, when it was bequeathed to fondo ambiente italiano (fai).  so, it is an unadulterated archetype of 1930’s architecture and design.  villa necchi campiglio reopened as a museum in 2008, following a 6 million euro restoration.  since then, the villa has become a popular event venue, especially during milan fashion week and the salone internazionale del mobile.  villa necchi campiglio has also gained fame as a location for advertising and film shoots, including the 2009 movie, i am love (lo sono l’amore), starring tilda swinton.

gardens

villa necchi campiglio | designed by piero portaluppi | 1932-1935

photo credit casemuseo

the neighborhood surrounding villa necchi campiglio was originally part of the palazzo serbelloni gardens.  development of the neighborhood began in 1926.  so, when the necchi campiglio family purchased the property in 1930, it was not unusual to locate enough land close to the city center to build a villa surrounded by private gardens.  but, it was more unusual for the gardens to include tennis courts.  and, a heated swimming pool.

heated swimming pool | villa necchi campiglio

photo credit forpilar

ground floor

ground floor plan | villa necchi campiglio

entrance | villa necchi campiglio

photo credit casemuseo

you immediately perceive the quality, luxury, and craftsmanship as you enter the villa through the two story lobby.  the wide plank noce (walnut) floors are inlaid with palissandro (rosewood) strips in a brick pattern.  the rosewood paneling that lines the stairwell is also set in a brick pattern.

lobby | villa necchi campiglio

walnut and rosewood floors | rosewood paneling | walnut balustrade

photo credit giorgio majno | fai

the repetition and the reinterpretation of the materials and the details, like the double fretwork detail of the walnut balustrade, integrates the architecture with the hardware and the furnishings.

lobby | villa necchi campiglio

double fretwork balustrade

photo credit taccuinodicasabella

lobby | villa necchi campiglio

fretwork radiator covers

photo credit casemuseo

‘c’ china | villa necchi campiglio

designed by portaluppi for the necchi campiglio family

photo credit giorgio majno | fai

the entrance to the library is on the left side of the lobby through a pair of walnut doors.  the doors are inlaid with strips of rosewood, like the hardwood floors.

rosewood shelves divide the library into three functional areas.  on the right side of the library, two seating areas flank an original portaluppi fireplace and a vitrine, now filled with the zegna collection of 18th century porcelain figurines.  the vitrine penetrates the wall between the library and the adjacent living room, visually connecting the two spaces.

the center section of the library is furnished with a pair of game tables and chairs designed by guglielmo ulrich (1904-1977).  openings in the rosewood shelves visually connect the game and the lounge areas.

library | villa necchi campiglio

game tables and chairs designed by guglielmo ulrich

photo credit giorgio majno | fai

a library table occupies the left side of the biblioteca, which opens to the veranda through a pair of nickel and brass pocket doors designed by portaluppi.

doors between the library and the veranda | villa necchi campiglio

photo credit giorgio majno | fai

did you notice the brick pattern of the doors, which is similar to the brick patterns in the lobby?  and, that the double grid pattern on the travertine and green marble floor in the veranda reflects the double grid pattern of the stucco ceiling in the library?  the radiator covers in the veranda even have a grid pattern.

retractable double paned windows open the veranda to the garden.  (a 1930’s nana wall…)  the connection between the interior and the exterior, the open space plan, the large rooms, and the natural light make the design of villa necchi campiglio seem undated after 80 years.

veranda | villa necchi campiglio

with retractable double paned windows

photo credit weareprivate

the serpentine sofa that portaluppi designed still occupies the veranda.  like the retractable windows, the green slipcovers connect the veranda to the garden.  

veranda | villa necchi campiglio

serpentine sofa designed by portaluppi

rubelli supplied the fabrics for the refurbishment of the interiors

photo credit atcasa.corriere

other original portaluppi pieces include a lapus lazuli display table in the veranda, a wooden console table with a marble top in the lobby, and a briarwood wardrobe in the prince’s bedroom.

but, all of the furnishings in villa necchi campiglio are not original.  the living room, which connects to the veranda through a second pair of nickel and brass doors, the smoking room, the dining room, and the master bedroom were redesigned by tomaso buzzi (1900-1981) during the 1950’s.  so, now these rooms have 18th century style furnishings.

doors between the veranda and the living room | villa necchi campiglio

photo credit giorgio majno | fai

living room | villa necchi campiglio

redesigned by tomaso buzzi | 1950’s

exhibition of brasilia tables by fernando and umberto campana for edra | salone di mobile 2010

photo credit pasquale formisano

did you notice the mirror?  see how the vitrine penetrates the wall between the living room and the library?  innovativa, no?

living room | villa necchi campiglio

vitrine penetrating the wall between the living room and the library

photo credit amicipalazzoreale

the entrance to the smoking room is on the opposite side of the lobby from the library, the veranda, and the living room.  during the refurnishing, buzzi replaced the original portaluppi fireplace in the smoking room with a green marble renaissance style fireplace.

smoking room | villa necchi campiglio

redesigned by tomaso buzzi | 1950’s

photo credit giorgio majno | fai

another pair of doors with metal inlaid in a diamond pattern connect the smoking room to the dining room.  like the library, the smoking room has a diamond patterned ceiling.  did you also notice the diamond patterned legs on the coffee table in the smoking room?  i wonder if portaluppi designed the coffee table, too?

dining room | villa necchi campiglio

redesigned by tomaso buzzi | 1950’s

photo credit wallpaper

in the dining room, buzzi retained the stucco ceiling that is decorated with an astrological relief pattern, and the parchment paneled walls.  but, he covered the walls with XVI-XVII century brussels tapestries in addition to refurnishing the room.

do you prefer the 1950’s design?  or, the 1930’s design?

dining room | villa necchi campiglio

designed by piero portaluppi | 1932-1935

photo credit sightunseen

angelo campiglio’s study is also located on the right side of the lobby, across from the dining room and the smoking room.  the geometric ceiling in the study has a labyrinth pattern.  the study was originally furnished with a walnut desk designed by portaluppi.  but, it was replaced during the 1950’s with an empire period field desk.  the rectangular rosewood panels on the walls, reminiscent of the parchment panels in the dining room and the rosewood panels in the lobby, conceal storage compartments.

study | villa necchi campiglio

mahogany anthropomorphic field desk | made by giovanni socci | florence | first quarter 19th century

photo credit giorgio majno | fai

first floor

first floor plan | villa necchi campiglio

from the lobby, the stairs lead to an atrium on the first floor that adjoins the bedroom suites.

lobby | villa necchi campiglio

stairs from the lobby to the atrium

photo credit giorgio majno | fai

on the right side of the atrium, a gallery leads to the the master bedroom suites.  the gallery, with a barrel vaulted stucco ceiling decorated in another diamond relief pattern, is lined with wardrobes.  the wardrobes still contain the sisters’ couture clothing.  each suite includes a bedroom, a dressing room, and a bathroom.  gigina and angelo campiglio’s double bedroom suite is located on the left side of the gallery.  and, nedda necchi’s bedroom suite is located on the right side.

gallery | villa necchi campiglio

with a barrel vaulted ceiling and wardrobes

photo credit massimo ripani | fai

both master bedrooms now have traditional furnishings.

gigina and angelo campiglio’s double bedroom | villa necchi campiglio

redesigned by tomaso buzzi | 1950’s

photo credit giorgio majno | fai

nedda necchi’s bedroom | villa necchi campiglio

photo credit giorgio majno | fai

but, the materials, fixtures, and furnishings of the master bathrooms are modern.  modern enough to meet the bathroom specifications for one of my current interior design projects.  both bathrooms are spacious.  so, spacious that they are furnished with dressing tables.  and, the toilets are located in separate rooms.  the floors and walls are surfaced in marble.  both bathrooms are fitted with two sinks.  and, large mirrors with sconces on either side hang above the sinks.  the bathtubs are surrounded by floor to ceiling slabs of marble and panes of glass.  during the 1930’s, the stall showers with overhead and hand held shower heads and hydrotherapy jets must have seemed ultra modern.  and, ultra extravagant.

gigina and angelo campiglio’s bathroom | villa necchi campiglio

photo credit giorgio majno | fai


nedda necchi’s bathroom | villa necchi campiglio

photo credit wallpaper

the two guest bedroom suites, located directly off the atrium, also include bedrooms, dressing rooms, and bathrooms.  the de’ micheli collection of 18th century paintings and decorative arts is now displayed in the princess’s bedroom suite.  the modernist furnishings of the prince’s bedroom seem more compatible with the architectural style of the villa than the traditional furnishings of the master bedrooms.

prince’s bedroom | villa necchi campiglio

photo credit giorgio majno | fai

although the materials, fixtures, and furnishings in the prince’s bathroom are not as luxurious as the master bathrooms, the layout is even more innovative.  portaluppi designed a black marble partition wall between the bathroom and the dressing room with curtain panels on either side.  the partition makes the bathroom and the dressing room more spacious.  and, more functional for servants to attend guests.

prince’s bathroom | villa necchi campiglio

photo credit flickriver
traditionally, the housekeeper responsible for the cloakroom was the only member of the service staff with quarters on the same floor as the family and their guests.  even the housekeeper’s ensuite bedroom and bathroom include all of the modern conveniences.

housekeeper’s bathroom | villa necchi campiglio

photo credit jules foto

great design ages gracefully.  do you agree?

going to the theater in italy can be so much fun.  everyone always dresses up, making any event more spectacular.

my husband, bob, and i were excited to finally attend a performance at teatro alla scala during our recent holiday in milan.

first, we walked the short distance from the grand hotel et de milan to the bulgari hotel.  il giardino, the alfresco lounge at the bulgari hotel, is one of the chicest places in milan for an aperitivo.  what better way to start the evening?  surrounded by fashionable people, eating delicious food, in a stylish setting.

il giardino | bulgari hotel | milan, italy

photo credit hotels.com
of course, i immediately recognized the dedon furniture.

dedon lounge furniture | designed by frank ligthart

dedon lighting by flos | designed by philippe stark

photo credits dedon and dedon
in milan, it is traditional to start the evening by having an aperitivo.  an aperitivo is a pre-dinner cocktail, usually served between six and eight pm, often accompanied by complimentary appetizers.  the complimentary appetizers prepared by bulgari hotel chef andrea ferrero included crudities and bocconcini (mozzarella) to dip in balsamic vinegar,  foccacia brushed with roasted tomatoes, vongole (clams) topped with tapenade, gazpacho, baccala (salt cod) gnocchi, olives, and marcona almonds.  three glasses of wine, including all of the appetizers, cost 45 euros.  molto bene!
il giardino|aperitivo|yelp

 chef andrea ferrero

aperitivos at il giardino

photo credits fashion week daily and yelp.it

afterwards, we walked the short distance from the bulgari hotel to teatro alla scala.

teatro alla scala | designed by giuseppe piermarini | 1776-1778

photo credit easyart.com

the 18th century neoclassical theater was restored and restructured by architect mario botta from 2002-2004.  so, it was closed for renovation the entire time that bob and i lived in london.  the 61 million euro renovation project included conservative restoration of the 18th century building, enlarging the stage, orchestra pit, and backstage, as well as constructing a new service building.

teatro alla scala | restored and restructured by mario botta | 2002-2004

18th century building | rectangular stage tower | elliptical service building

photo credit mario botta

architectural model of teatro alla scala | restored and restructured by mario botta | 2002-2004

click here or here for a virtual tour of the renovated theater

photo credit mario botta

even though we’re not really opera or ballet afficianados, we really enjoyed attending a performance of the ballet, onegin, in this magnificent setting.

onegin | teatro alla scala | 11 september 2012

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

onegin act I

lenskij and ol’ga

onegin act I

the corps de ballet

onegin act III

tat’jana and il principe gremin

onegin act III

onegin and tat’jana

photo credits marco breschia and rudy amisano

but to us, the setting and the experience seemed as theatrical as the performance!

teatro alla scala | the royal box

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

teatro alla scala: the illustrated history by carlo lanfossi

to be published by rizzoli on 13 november 2012

photo credit rizzoli