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When you think Italian fashion design, Armani, Valentino and Versace spring to mind, having paved the way for strong, bold aesthetics. Quality and tailoring is also intrinsic to the Italian sensibility. A new label that epitomises both has emerged from a 20-year strong lineage. Italian company “Paoloni Group” launched a new label “MSGM” recently with strong acceptance domestically and internationally with the likes of Harvey Nichols, Joyce, Lane Crawford, Matches and Browns plus being named as one of the best new emerging designers for Vogue Talents.
Created by and for a youthful demographic of under 35, the label has both a men’s and women’s collection. Blending comfort and function with a distinctly Italian preppy edge, the Men’s collection is fresh and modern yet combines achingly simple pieces together. The Women’s is more fashion focused with an emphasis on print and staying current to the season. Either way, this is one label to watch as they make their mark on the international fashion scene. – Kate Vandermeer
Castello di Vicarello is the kind of place you dream about. Movies and novels describe such places but you don’t really believe they exist. Too good to be true. But Castello di Vicarello is definitely real and it has been so since 1100. The castle sits on a hill overlooking the Maremma countryside in southern Tuscany, and it offers absolutely everything that any of your senses would want of a Tuscan vacation.
About 50 years ago, it was practically a ruin, completely abandoned, when the Baccheschi Berti family saw the potential. With much love and care, and quite a few lira, the family transformed the ruin into an exquisitely luxurious yet completely unpretentious Tuscan paradise that opened for guests in 2003.
We had the pleasure (thank you Maserati) of driving from Rome to Tuscany (about 2 hours) and then being the guests of Aurora and Carlo Baccheschi Berti and their two sons who pampered us with their company and their incomparable food, and gave us the opportunity to let the stress melt away in their amazing castle.
Each room and villa (only 7 in total) is different, with hand-picked furnishings, fabrics and accents. The exposed stone, brick and wood of the structure provide a perfect framework for the harmonious mix of antiques, modern design and Indonesian touches (the Baccheschi Bertis spent a decade in Indonesia in the textile business). The beds are adorned with the highest-quality Italian linen sheets and yes, they do help you sleep better.
The views of the countryside, the two outdoor fresh-water pools, the magnificent garden that changes with the seasons, the beautiful spa, the vineyards, the olive groves, not to even mention the amazing food Aurora and her staff prepare daily — there is absolutely no reason to leave this place. Ever. We spent hours just wandering around lazily and barefooted, gazing at the vistas, listening to the birds — no social networking, no technology, just peace and quiet. There is a slowness of time here and that's the magic.
Arguably the best holiday we’ve ever had anywhere, even in Italy, our favorite country, that manages to deliver every time — from food to the fashion, from people-watching to design, from architecture to hotels, from wines to coffee. How many countries get this many things right?
Mention TCH for the special rates.
If you feel like cooking, you can help Aurora in the kitchen (she runs an informal cooking school)
See also Rome Luxury Suites - Rome
The Italian wallpaper company Wall & Decò is known for creating exquisite, large-scale mural-like wallpapers that define a room. They are widely used in hotels and restaurants, and for private residences by interior designers.
In April at the Fluorisalone 2012 in Milan, Wall & Decò introduced a new wallpaper system designed for the outdoors.
Their OUT - Outdoor Unconventional Textures - system is a three-part covering that allows for incredible photographic reproductions and large-scale graphic designs to be applied onto outside walls. The system consists of an adhesive, a technical fabric and a finishing treatment.
The designs introduced in Milan included a Bauhaus look, a black-and-white OP pattern, tile-initiations and even military camouflage. We believe this is an idea that has staying power, and that it will expand and improve as feedback from early users comes in. - Tuija Seipell
Should anyone need an excuse to travel to Naples, we can offer the perfect one: Go there to explore Metro Napoli’s Art Stations. (That’s subway or tube stations for the rest of us.) The Art Stations program has been going on for some time with artists, designers and architects, including, Alessandro Mendini, Anish Kapoor, Gae Aulenti Jannis Kounellis, Karim Rashid, Michelangelo Pistoletto and Sol LeWitt contributing.
What drew our attention is the 13th Art Station of the Naples Metro system, the Toledo Metro Station, that opened finally after many delays in September 2012, during the European Week of Sustainable Mobility. It was designed by the Spanish firm of architect Oscar Tusquets Blanca.
The station is on Via Toledo (Via Roma), one of the main shopping streets in Naples. A second entrance to the Toledo Station will open in February 2013 in the Spanish Quarter, Quartieri Spagnoli. Oscar Blanca also designed the public squares above the two metro entrances.
The Toledo station is one of the deepest in the line at 50 meters, and it is themed around water and light. The art of the station, curated by art critic and former Venice Biennale director, Achille Bonito Oliva, includes two mosaics by the South African artist, William Kentridge, as well as Light Panels Robert Wilson and works by Francesco Clemente, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Shirin Nehsat and Oliviero Toscani.
We especially love the deep, blue, sparkling crater that connects the ground level with the great lobby 38 meters below. No wonder that The Daily Telegraph included the Toledo Station on its Europe’s Most Impressive Underground Railway Stations list. - Tuija Seipell
It is tough to describe our six glorious days at Castello Di Reschio in Umbria, Italy, without resorting to clichés and big words that sound like overstatements. Awesome. Amazing. Surreal. Idyllic. Exquisite.
But when we review our images, videos and stories from Di Reschio, the one thing that has become even clearer over time is the feeling that we were transported to some unspecified luxurious time period between ancient history and tomorrow. A perfect “time is standing still” moment, offering relaxation and pampering, yet managing to surprise and delight at every turn.
With the estate itself a testament to how beautifully structures can age, combined with the extraordinary attention to detail in the restoration, and topped with every modern amenity one could wish for, it all appeared – and still does – almost too beautiful and perfect to be true.
We kept thinking that it resembled a movie set, yet there wasn’t a single fake or pretentious item in the place. Everything felt that it belonged here, and somehow always had belonged, even if reality proved otherwise.
The back story of this incredible estate and the family that runs it, is just as unbelievable and romantic as any fantasy we could conjure up. In 1994, Count Antonio Bolza and his wife, Angelika, purchased Castello di Reschio, a 2,700-acre estate in the hills of Umbria, Italy. They set out to restore and renovate the disused farmhouses on the estate that dates back to 1202.
Over time, the Count’s son Benedickt Bolza (now known as Count Bolza) graduated from architecture school and joined the family operation, taking over the planning, design and renovation.
He met his future wife, Nencia (of the princely Corsini family of Florence), at Castello di Reschio where she was hired by his parents in 1998 to paint decorative trompe l’oeil murals.
Eventually, the couple took over the estate’s largest castle as the home for themselves and their now five children. It was the most challenging to renovate, says Count Bolza, but it is beyond amazing. The couple has no regrets about the painstaking work they’ve done on it and offer tours for the guests.
So far, they have renovated about 25 villas on the estate, catering to an international elite client base of buyers and renters.
We stayed at the Palazzo that sleeps 10. The staircase in the centre of the house alone took our breath away. And the attention to detail in absolutely everything on the entire estate. From custom-design (by Count Bolza) furniture to incredible amenities including Ortiga Sicilia toiletries that we completely fell in love with.
On arrival, at lunchtime, our house was bustling with cooking and soon a delicious lunch was served at the huge table. This was a precursor to the astonishing mealtimes we were to enjoy throughout our stay.
Swimming pools, gyms, tennis, cooking lessons at your own house, and eating, of course, eating. Everything as fresh as can be and everything produced locally.
As we were focusing on doing as little as possible, we were delighted to be spectators at Conte Bolza’s Tuesday evening dressage performance. As he and his white horse moved elegantly around the paddock, we were seated under a maharaja tent, and served Italian hors d’oeuvres and wine.
The entire setup felt like we were witnessing an old-world European aristocratic tradition, and we were probably not too far wrong. Dressage does have deep European roots dating back to before Renaissance, and horses have played a vital role in this former frontier fief situated on the border between the former Papal States and the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.
And within a five-minute drive from our Palazzo was the estate’s restaurant, Osteria – that’s how large the estate is – where chef Marco Pellegrini creates the Di Reschio cuisine.
Unpretentious, delicious, fresher than fresh. Italian. Perfect bright-red vine ripened tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, basil, pasta, gazpacho, bread, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and chilli, and wine. You get the idea. We think we have found our heaven on earth and it is called Castello Di Reschio.
A short video we produced on the most extraordinary place we experienced last summer - Castello Di Reschio in Umbria, Italy. - Bill Tikos
If only we had a spare historic Barchessa in Italy and an extra million lying about, we, too, would build an office and showroom, just like fashion house Rubens Luciano’s in Villa Gritti, Stra, near Venice.
We’ve covered many a gorgeous office over the years in our quest for the world’s coolest offices, and although many of them a grand in scale and lavish in budget, each one has ideas just waiting for any of us to emulate in our own, perhaps more modest, surroundings.
In the case of the Rubens Luciano office, architect Simone Micheli mastered several copy-worthy feats: The use of natural light and glass to create the feeling of openness; the combination of old and new in a way that is not pretentious; and the exquisite attention to detail.
Several of Micheli’s other hallmarks are also visible in this project: smooth, flowing lines; shiny, seamless surfaces; rounded edges; and organic-looking, bulbous shapes. We also love the meticulous detailing and the minimalist, clean overall look.
The four-year-long renovation collaboration between Simone Micheli and his friends, fashion-house founders Rubens and Luciano, was unveiled at a great party on September 1, a date that also marked the 49th birthday of the architect. - Tuija Seipell.
We have yet to experience anything even closely equal to our incredible six days at Castello di Reschio in Umbria.
So it should not have come as a surprise to us that their office building would turn out to be stunning as well.
But it just feels somehow unfair that some people really do get to call this restored 1940s tobacco processing factory as their everyday office.
Late last summer, Count Benedikt Bolza, the talented managing director and chief architect of the Castello di Reschio estate, and his team finished the restoration of the estate’s tobacco factory building so that the estate offices, design studio, workshops and exhibitions could move in.
Heritage and history are exquisitely balanced with contemporary style and cool elegance, yet the space does not feel pretentious or contrived. It feels completely natural; there is a sense of ease, as if it had always been like this.
Part of the reason for this is that Bolza left several key elements of the industrial building intact. For example, the stairs that lead to the offices where 13 team members now work are exactly as they were when more than 50 factory workers sorted tobacco here on long wooden tables – many of which are now in the estate’s private restaurant, Osteria.
Reclaimed and repurposed steel, wood, stone and other elements are prominent throughout the estate and in the Tabaccaia as well. Our favorites are the large floor lamps made of reclaimed heaters Bolza found at the Tabaccaia, and topped with perforated stainless steel sheet shades. Another favorite are the large sculptural rings hanging from the ceiling. They are repurposed wine barrel rings from the castle’s wine cellars.
Bolza says that although sound proofing was initially a concern in this hard-surfaced space, it has actually been a blessing in disguise. Repurposed wide wooden planks help muffle sound throughout the open space but no additional sound-proofing was needed “because the magic is that everybody talks at low level creating a sort of spiritual working environment. It is quite amazing and all are in such good working mode because of it,” he says.
And while it may seem that the team is roughing it in this rustic environment, under-floor heating and LED lighting throughout bring the comfort level well beyond that of most ordinary offices. - Tuija Seipell.