And now for some super awesome Eichler homes in Orange, California. Just that.
Architect Michael Hsu designed a modern take on row house living. Clean, modern lines with touches of wood define the newest set of row homes. Hsu’s office focuses on creating livable, neighborhood-oriented urban spaces and has a reputation for their clean, contemporary design.
Once home to Austin’s Robert Mueller Municipal Airport, the redevelopment known as Mueller is a 700-acre mixed-use urban community nearly 15,000 Austin residents call home. With more than 6,200 total residences, the Tilley Row Homes invigorate the street and the quality of the neighborhood with covered porches wrapped in wood unique to each unit. Softened by vegetation, the porches engage passing neighbors while providing privacy and reprieve for the residents within. Each unit’s clean-gabled form is punctuated by prominent west-facing windows with perforated steel surrounds and shutters. In addition to providing visual interest and contrast to the wood, these shutters protect bedrooms from the harsh western sun.
Perforated screens intercept brick walls at exterior intervals and effectively blur the boundary between inside and out. Visible from the front door, a courtyard separates the main house from the garage and apartment above, thus creating a private garden and natural light to penetrate throughout. Each two-story unit provides an open, ground floor living space with large sliding glass doors that allow the lushly planted courtyard to become an extension of the living area.
Two bedrooms and a master suite await upstairs where obscured glazing allows natural light to fill the spaces. Ample windows in the master suite offer views down into the courtyard, while the southernmost unit captures sweeping views of the adjacent pond and golf course. Floor to ceiling windows in the great room and large corner windows in the master bedroom frame the vista of native grasses, birds, and the broad blue Texas sky.
11 of the world’s most striking new buildings this year
Architecture has always been an integral part of what gives a destination its unique charm and identity. From ultra-modern museums to preserved historical buildings, there is a wealth of rich and diverse experiences centred around the world of architecture and design. Lonely Planet has rounded up a selection of some of the most unique architecture design in teh world.
Jiunvfeng Study on Mount Tai in China
This curved, white pavilion and visitor center perches above Dongximen Village in Shangdong, China, with stunning views of Mount Tai, a sacred place of worship for thousands of years. A coffee shop with tables sits at one end while a bookcase-lined study is at the other. The incredible curved glass wall creates a gigantic viewing platform for guests lucky enough to visit the site.
Museum of Contemporary Art Helga de Alvear, Spain
The renovation and extension of the headquarters of the Helga de Alvear foundation in Cáceres, Spain was planned by Spanish practice Tuñón Arquitectos. The charming building now has a temporary exhibition hall, library and workshop spaces housed in the Casa Grande where visitors can amble about at their leisure and discover the bright and airy areas.
Boat Rooms on the Fuchun River in China
Visitors to the these charming timber-framed boat lodges in Zhejiang province can sit out on the spacious decks and watch the lights play on the water. The design takes inspiration from local traditions, and the five boat rooms are nestled into a canopy of trees. Large windows in the roofs let light into the hotel rooms and guests can even spot birds flying overhead.
The Standard in England
This colorful hotel has been built inside the former Camden Town Hall Annexe of King’s Cross, and has 266 rooms, three restaurants, a bar, and even a recording studio. The roof has views across the surrounding area, while some suites have their own terraces complete with outdoor baths. One of the most eye-catching features from the outside is the bright red elevator that makes its way up the side of the brutalist building.
Tanzhaus Zürich in Switzerland
Tanzhaus Zürich has been designed as a new public space that invigorates the area along the river Limmat. Under the label Tanzhaus young, the institution hosts dance performances for young audiences and hosts courses for children and young adults. The building has unique triangular windows and modern spaces inside that are used for a number of different activities that serve the community.
Cycling Through Trees in Belgium
This 700-meter-long cycle path in Bosland takes visitors in a ring road around a gigantic forest, with a path that is also open and accessible to walkers and joggers. The project is an eye-catching and exciting way to promote outdoor activities and immerse visitors in nature.
Buhais Geology Museum in United Arab Emirates
The Buhais Geology Park Interpretive Center has been built on a former seabed in the desert 30-miles south-east of Sharjah, with buildings that resemble fossilized sea urchins. The pods have exhibition spaces, theatres, a café with impressive views of the mountains. As well as taking in the stunning architecture, visitors can see fossils from over 65 million years ago.
Microlibrary Warak Kayu in Indonesia
As well as being beautiful on the outside, this small library and community centre in Semarang, Indonesia has a unique hammock style floor made out of netting and a large communal swing. Microlibrary Warak Kayu is a public reading room that has space for events and workshops. The building was created with fun in mind, and visitors can relax on the netted floor with a book.
Mountain House in Mist in China
Designed as a revival project for the rural village of Jinhua, Mountain House in Mist is built on stilts and has open spaces for reading, study as well as areas for villagers to relax and drink tea. The creators hope that the building will attract more travelers and tourists as well as young people in the area. The frosted sides of the building let light in during the day and illuminate the surrounding area at dusk.
Saint Hotel in Greece
A cluster of former homes and barns in the village of Odi, Santorini have been transformed into this sleek, minimalist hotel. Rooms in the Saint Hotel open up to private terraces and pools, while the property slopes down to a cliff edge. The crisp white walls look clean against the blue sky, and guests can even get some stunning views of the ocean.
Museum and Cultural Forum South Westphalia in Germany
Designed by Bez + Kock Architekten, this museum and cultural center has a new bridge structure with a passage that leads to an impressive full-height panoramic window that grants views of the surrounding city. A footpath and walkway runs on the hill below the bridge to a terrace on the museum’s roof.
I really need to revamp my bedroom in the coming weeks and need to start curating current inspirations. The overall goal is to create a relaxing haven, a place to escape from the business of life, and to feel calm and restful. In order to achieve this, I hope to de-clutter and keep the room as pared back as possible, with a focus on natural materials. Linen in soft neutral colors are a favorite. Love these materials at Menu Space. Simple with beautiful textures.
A new paint color is a great starting point. Maybe a neutral tone? I love these soft colors by dulux.
A style that I am becoming more and more drawn to is minimalist task lighting. All of the examples here demonstrate a beautiful architectural purity, and are a signature feature of Belgian architecture. They go hand in hand with textural walls, and a quiet, serene aesthetic.
Photo sources designchaser
I’ve never met a FLOS light I didn’t like and this one I’m swooning over. FLOS has taken a dramatic lighting collection originally designed by Michael Anastassiades for New York’s Four Seasons restaurant and will make it available to everyone in October. Called Coordinates, it features a series of interlocking linear LED luminaries that take their formal inspiration from the mathematical precision of the Cartesian grid, illuminated and expanded to three brilliant dimensions.
Coordinates comes in a broad array of set configurations, including four suspended chandeliers of different sizes and three ceiling-mounted luminaries, available in two lengths to suit both standard and high ceilings. The collection also features a repeatable module that can be suspended or ceiling-mounted, ideally suited to impressive, large-scale installations as often featured in contract projects.
“Coordinates is a lighting system consisting of horizontal and vertical strip lights that form illuminated grid-like structures of various complexities,” says Anastassiades. “This design evolved from a commission for the feature lighting of the main dining area, which relocated and reopened in 2018 with the interiors designed by Sao Paolo-based architect Isay Weinfeld.”
The range is completed by a vertical floor lamp model featuring a simple round base and two lighting bars, which can be set at the preferred beam angle during assembly.
Coordinates is made from extruded aluminium with a sophisticated anodized champagne finish, and an opal-white platinic silicone diffuser. Exact, elegant, and easily adaptable, this collection offers a flexible yet formally rigorous solution for a diverse range of indoor environments, providing maximum impact with a minimal touch.
Born in 1900 in New York City to German Jewish immigrants, Eichler founded the eponymous Eichler Homes, which built more than 11,000 residences concentrated in Northern and Southern California. He worked with leading architects of the day—Anshen & Allen, Oakland & Associates, Jones & Emmons, A. Quincy Jones, and Raphael Soriano—to design the distinctive dwellings that are now simply known as Eichlers and still coveted today.
Joseph Eichler not only defined the middle-class home of the mid-century period, but also worked to dismantle racist housing policies.
Joseph Eichler’s name is synonymous with the stylish, mid-century homes that his development company brought to the suburbs of California. His role in fighting for fair housing policies and integrated neighborhoods, however, is lesser known.
Eichler was not unfamiliar with housing discrimination; at the time, there were developers of suburban communities who refused to sell homes to the Jewish middle class. He believed, however, that if a buyer was qualified, there was no good reason not to sell them a home. “I really do think Joe may have been motivated by discrimination against Jews back in New York,” says Dave Weinstein, features editor at CA-Modern Magazine and the Eichler Network—and overall Eichler expert. “It was common not just in housing, but in society in general.”
Eichler’s son Ned, who worked alongside his father at Eichler Homes, was recorded as saying that the company began selling to Asian Americans as early as 1950 or ’51. The exact date is unclear as the Eichlers never kept statistics on the “racial characteristics of their clients.” However, in the early 1950s, selling to a Black family was a more controversial issue and could be potentially risky for a developer.
According to Ocean Howell, associate professor of history at the University of Oregon who wrote the paper The Merchant Crusaders: Eichler Homes and Fair Housing, 1949-1974, Eichler’s personal turning point was when he sold a home to Franklin “Frank” Williams. Williams was the lead counsel of the West Coast chapter of the NAACP, a personal acquaintance of Eichler—and also his first Black buyer. “Before that experience, Eichler held egalitarian ideals but was afraid of integrating a tract,” says Howell. “After this moment he began to put those ideals into practice. He began to risk his own position in the pursuit of those ideals.”
Eichler had been concerned about the effect this would have on his business, including financing from the Federal Housing Administration and Veterans Affairs. Selling a home to Williams invigorated the Eichlers and propelled them into greater activism in many different arenas. In addition to organizing California’s convention on housing issues and helping to write the state’s fair housing law, the Eichlers consulted with the federal Housing and Home Finance Agency and HUD, volunteering to be used as case studies in promotional materials. They also testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
Collectively, all of these activities demonstrate that they were doing whatever they possibly could to fight discrimination in housing, and to demonstrate by example that integration would not bring the private housing market crashing down.
Darren Bradley is an architectural photographer and the man behind the popular Instagram account @modarchitecture. He has researched the developer and photographed numerous Eichler homes over the years and recently posted about the following event: In 1955, when the developer sold a home to a Black family in San Rafael’s Terra Linda development, some of the neighbors protested. Eichler responded angrily to their reaction and “went door-to-door personally to confront them and even offered to buy back their homes.” However, no one took Eichler up on his offer, and after the new family moved in, no one sold their homes. “Initially, it wasn’t really a concerted effort or a conscious thing; he just didn’t believe that there should be any sort of restrictions,” says Bradley. “He just became more militant about it as time went on.”
Later, Eichler Homes codified its policy to sell to any qualified homebuyer regardless of race, ethnicity, or religion. By 1964, the company had sold 30 to 40 houses to Black buyers, according to accounts from Eichler’s son Ned. This was an “open secret” in the industry; salespeople didn’t advertise the fact, but they didn’t hide it, either.
“I think they were happy to be activists in the policy arena, but they wanted to draw a sharp line between those activities and their development business,” says Howell. It was a delicate balance they were trying to strike. They believed passionately in promoting civil rights, but saw that the best way to do that was to speak in different registers for different audiences. They could speak about justice to the Commission on Civil Rights, but in [the] very conservative business environment [of upper-middle-class, single-family housing], the best way to promote an egalitarian outcome was to quietly demonstrate that integrated housing worked just fine as a business.
So why is it that for the most part, Eichler’s legacy of integration isn’t better known? Eichler homes are lauded for their indoor/outdoor atrium, expansive glazing, warm wood paneling, tongue-and-groove ceilings—an aesthetic that he popularized and brought to mid-century, suburban, middle-class housing. “Most books on Eichler don’t even really talk about it, which I always thought was shocking,” says Bradley. They always focus on the build and the designs, and they sort of touch on the history, but they don’t talk about what a pioneer he was.
Weinstein points out, however, that accounts of Eichler’s progressive policies don’t slip past many diehard Eichler fans: “Among people who live in Eichlers, Joe’s commitment to non-discrimination and his liberal views are very well known. You’d be surprised how often people told me they bought the homes because of that.”
If the phrase prefab home doesn’t conjure up images of health and serenity, there’s a reason for that. In Europe, manufactured housing can be a luxury product, but in the US, the concept has taken a long time to shake the stigma of association with low-cost homogeneity. However, the tides may be turning as a new generation of designers explores the possibilities of prefab. This time around, the appeal isn’t just price point—it’s also wellness.
High-end prefab home builder Dvele just got a little more high-tech—and eco-conscious. The San Diego-based company, which is known for its luxury prefab designs, announced this week that it would start exclusively building fully self-powered homes going forward.
Since its founding in 2017, Dvele has branded itself as a sustainable option in the prefab space, but its new initiative takes it a step further with homes that run entirely on solar power and stored energy. Dvele’s models are similar to other eco-minded prefab homes in that a major focus is to limit the amount of wasted energy produced in the first place.
To do that, Dvele developed a new building envelope with a thermal barrier that ensures any heating or cooling produced in the house stays in the house. The company claims its homes utilize 84 percent less energy per square foot to operate than a traditionally built home, which means running totally on solar power is actually achievable. All new Dvele homes will come with solar panels plus a backup battery system to hold any extra energy generated.
Off-grid capability is a way for Dvele to distinguish itself in the increasingly crowded prefab industry—and to get ahead of local regulations. California, no stranger to mass power outages, passed a state building code in 2018 that requires all new homes from 2020 onward to have rooftop solar, the first rule of its kind in the country.
Nina Simone’s Childhood Home Preserved
Singer, pianist, songwriter, and civil rights activist Nina Simone, who died in 2003, made a lasting impact on the U.S., and now four artists are working to make sure her legacy lives on by saving her childhood home in Tryon, North Carolina.
The home, a three-room, 660-square-foot clapboard pier and beam house, is where Simone—born Eunice Waymon—taught herself to play piano by ear at the age of three. It had been vacant for 20 years, until going on the market in December 2016. That is when artist Adam Pendleton received an email from Laura Hoptman, a curator of contemporary art at The Museum of Modern Art, letting him know that Simone’s childhood home was for sale. When Hoptman mentioned that she had also emailed artist Rashid Johnson, Pendleton had an epiphany. “I had an aha moment and said, ‘Wait a minute, we could purchase this house together. It could be a collective act, a collective gesture.’” With Johnson on board, they recruited artists Ellen Gallagher and Julie Mehretu. “We both agreed that it would be a more meaningful gesture if other artists were involved,” he says. Together the artists purchased the home for $95,000 in March 2017.
An Activist and Musician from the Very Beginning
Nina Simone’s distinctive voice, sultry blend of classical, blues, and gospel music, and penchant for activism have ensured that the artist’s decades-long legacy still endures today. In her childhood home, she developed a love for her piano and experienced racial discrimination that would shape her world view and social activism later in life. Her mother was a devout Methodist preacher, and her father was entrepreneurial (he had worked as an entertainer early in his own life). Though the Great Depression undoubtedly affected the family’s beginnings, they still provided Simone with opportunities to strengthen her passion—and talent—for music.
As a young girl, Simone accompanied her mother’s sermons and the church choir on the piano during services. After hearing Simone, then age 6, accompany the community choir at the Tryon Theater, two women convinced her mother she needed formal piano lessons. One of the women, Mrs. Muriel Mazzanovich, was a local piano teacher. She taught Simone at her house in Tryon for the next four years and organized the Eunice Waymon Fund to raise money for Simone to continue her training after she left for high school.
To thank those who supported the fund, Simone performed her debut recital at the Tryon Library in 1943 at age 11. However, living in a Jim Crow-segregated South, Simone’s parents were forced to give up their seats for white audience members when they arrived at the library. Even then a fierce defender of what she believed to be right, Simone refused to play until her parents were returned to their rightful place in the front row.
Simone’s piano education continued with the aid of the Eunice Waymon Fund, while she attended an all-girls boarding school in Asheville, North Carolina. Following graduation, she moved to New York City in 1950 to attend a summer program at Julliard with plans to apply for a scholarship at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia; however, she didn’t receive the scholarship or admittance to Curtis—allegedly due to her race. Simone instead worked odd jobs before returning to music as an accompanist and private teacher. Eventually, she began playing piano and singing at a bar in Atlantic City. There, Simone changed her name, and her career as the High Priestess of Soul took shape.
Much later in her career, Simone returned to Tryon after she had just spent several years living in France and touring Europe. By this point, the artist had built a career, as well as a reputation for expressing her views on civil rights and the racial injustice experienced by African Americans through original songs and covers such as Mississippi Goddam, I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free, and Four Women.
Simone maintained personal friendships with noted Civil Rights leaders and activists such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. The turbulence of the 1960s, and tragic events such as the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, motivated her to express her ideas and emotions through explosive live performances and recordings.
Throughout her career, Simone exhibited musical genius that couldn’t be denied or ignored. She spoke and sang about topics like standards of beauty for black women, oppression, and righteous anger motivated by hundreds of years of slavery and systemic racism. She traveled the world and performed for over four decades, often following momentous historic events like the Selma to Montgomery March and Dr. King’s assassination. She was, in short, a motivating figure for audiences around the world.
A New Future for Nina Simone’s Past
Years later, when Simone’s childhood home had long been empty, it was in danger of demolition. Prior rehabilitation efforts were unsuccessful, and the house went up for sale again in 2017. The artists didn’t have an interest just in Simone’s art—they felt that buying, preserving, and restoring the home was itself a political act, particularly in the wake of prominent movements such as Black Lives Matter and the perpetuation of the racial divide in the United States.
Like Simone, each artist finds ways to connect their work to African American identity and history. Pendleton uses language to re-contextualize history through re-appropriated images. Johnson’s work combines “racial and cultural identity, African American history, and mysticism,” according to his biography on Artsy. Gallagher reinterprets advertisements for products targeted towards African Americans. Mehretu creates renderings of urban grids to reexamine cultural definitions of place. The artists plan to apply their collective artistic vision to reinterpret Simone’s home into something that reflects her dynamic, complex legacy, but they cannot do it alone.
With leadership and guidance from the four artists, the National Trust—along with the Nina Simone Project, World Monuments Fund, and North Carolina African American Heritage Commission—is working to preserve Simone’s Tryon home. The National Trust will develop a rehabilitation plan that aligns with the home’s potential future use; identify future ownership and stewardship models for the site; and create additional protections to ensure that this symbol of Simone’s early life and legacy will endure for generations to come.
Learn more about Simone’s life and music here
A Horizon Within
Some of us are born with a crack in our souls. Itchy feet. Eyes that are unable to focus on anything other than the far flung. We were folded once, and then left like that for too long; there is a line inside us. I know it is there, because it speaks to another line, outside. They whisper at one another, gaze at one another. They will never rest until they are moving closer. There can be no doubt; the line outside beckons; this simple fold between land and sky. It is the answer to a complex equation, made trickier by topography, trees, the jumble of the city, and the relative density of air. It is a trick of the eye, brought about by the curvature of the Earth, muddled with atmospheric haze. I align the fold inside me to it, just as I point my deckchair to the sea.
I have, at times, tried to ignore its call. But the horizon is demanding. Its desire to draw me ever closer gnaws at my dreams, crawls across those quiet moments where I should find contentment. It pries me open, like an oyster, and the fold becomes the crack that lets the world in. It ties strings to my insides, pulling on each one as it whispers its promises. I will pick you up, it sings, in my tumbling embrace. Rock you like flotsam on my waves. Throw you back on the volcanic sand where I found you, forever changed. It promises an undoing quite unlike any other, its fury matched only – perhaps – by the devastation of love. I stumble, squinting, bent out of shape, unable, quite, to find my way back in through doors that have grown narrower somehow, into rooms more careworn than I remember them. It unscrews the hinges on that word home.
I imagine that there was a time when people were content to live out short lives, circumscribed by the boundary of a muddy field and a scattering of low, smoky cottages, an inn, a tower. But I know that this crack in my soul is older than that. Written in my DNA is a story of migration: from hunger to plenty; from oppression to freedom; from poverty to promise; from thronging alleys to a wild frontier. We follow hummocks and hoof prints in the wake of great beasts that sustain us; the promise of gold in the hills, dreams of fortune and fame. The mud of the road is churned. Oceans become ponds. Borders swept away, languages silenced, old stories drowned out by the tramp of hoping feet. Even when dictators and despots try to tie our bodies to the land, clip the feathers at our heels with stamps and permits, watchtowers, strip searches, our minds, unfettered, up and fly away. The longing is ever present; to open our eyes, to broaden our minds, to mix our genes.
Wanderers. Pilgrims. Varanasi, Bodh Gaya, Jerusalem, St James’s Way. The Grand Tour: the wealthiest of sons, the most insistent of gilded daughters. Comfort in a welter of trunks and bags. A chaperone, a tutor, a guide. A troop of servants in their wake. Now more than ever do I realize that I will never be content with a sedentary life. I will always be haunted by thoughts of a sun drenched elsewhere. The impulse to travel is one of the hopeful symptoms of life.” Anaïs Nin; Cuban, French born, Californian, navigator of the heart: “We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls.”
The foot on the path is, however, only half the story. The road has its romance, as do the rocking waves that carry me to unknown shores. The thrill of waking somewhere new; the weight of a pack on my back; every thrill, every turn, every tedious moment of anticipation is matched, almost perfectly, by the joy of home. ‘Home,’ as Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote, ‘is the nicest word there is.’ This worn in, Sunday love for the place I know best – every nook, scuff, and wrinkle of it – is matched by the desire to leave it. There are days when the walls press in, when it is all I can do to stay put. On others, it takes more energy than I can muster to open my front door. These two urges circle one another, pacing. I try to bring the horizon home, weighing down my suitcase with mementos from journeys real and imagined. Photos of columns and doorways. The juicy geometry of desert plants. Thick white and blue glaze on rough terracotta. A dusty weave trapping bright threads and fragments of mirror.
When I am on the road, the opposite desire wins out. I vote with feet and wallet for homely comfort. For moments of familiarity, for putting down my bags and sinking into something that feels not so far away after all. This world responds to my desire, shapes itself in my image. Just as home becomes a facsimile of every foreign shore, so every foreign shore, brick by brick, becomes a vision of home. With a sigh, the tension gives way to irony. The path to the horizon widens, smoother with every footstep, each day, each month, each year that passes. The horizon reacts; twitching, shrinking. Soon someone will set up a lemonade stand, a tea house, a rest stop. I find myself on an air conditioned bus with snacks, free WiFi, a flat screen in the seat back in front of me; 25 channels in 12 languages. I arrive between billboards to a concrete concourse, self check in, then slumber across the face of the planet. I arrive in identikit, climb aboard the same bus and watch the same movie in a language I don’t understand to convince myself I am somewhere new. I sit in my room, surrounded by the comforts of home. I wander streets lined with coffee bars selling even better coffee.
I squeeze my eyes shut. I look inside me. Can I scrub the horizon out? Can I flatten the fold? Smother its calling, stall the yearning, stem the flood? Rewrite my DNA and find satisfaction in a muddy field and a clutch of low houses? No; this genie hasn’t ever seen the inside of a bottle; the crack inside me cannot be sewn closed. I don’t want it closed. I may as well try to dig out my heart altogether.
I sit, breathing hard. In wonder. In the books on my shelves; a life inserted like a pressed flower between each pair of pages. The pictures on my wall; lives captured in light and squeezed under sheets of glass. A name signed with the drag of a stylus through wet clay. Threads dampened with someone’s spit pressed between someone’s forefinger, someone’s thumb. Each spice a childhood memory. Every note sung, plucked, or struck the beat of a heart folded in two with a horizon of its own. The fold in me reaches for the fold in the other. The horizon is the point we meet. As I reach, so I am reached for. As I am the starting point, so I am someone else’s destination. I travel without travelling. I go without going. I feel myself transported towards all these unknowable others. Symmetry without rotation or return. This is the search, I realize. To really move is to be moved. Each journey can only end not somewhere, but with someone.
With roots in Scandinavian design, Nordiska Kök designs beautiful minimalist kitchens to live in, unique and tailor-made to suit your life, today and tomorrow. Creators of tailor-made kitchens, the company offers unique solutions to suit different lifestyles. Built with longevity in mind, the kitchens are not only designed to last, they also leave the lightest possible footprint on world resources. I am immediately drawn to its warm inviting palette, mix of natural materials and interesting textures. Nordiska Kök crated this beautiful, classic Shaker kitchen with a Scandinavian touch, it fits like a dream inside of the century apartment, located in the popular Copenhagen district of Frederiksberg.
The spacious kitchen reflects the quality craftsmanship and clean lines that is synonymous with the Shaker movement. Together with the apartment’s preserved detailing, including the flooring and ceiling stucco, the overall look is truly timeless. Soft grey tones and beautiful Emperador marble counter tops compliment the warm wood flooring, while luxurious handles by The Brandt provide a contemporary edge.
Staying true to the minimalist aesthetic of the space, the decision not to cover the entire wall with cupboards is also in keeping with the style of Shaker kitchens. The kitchen demonstrates beautiful attention to detail, as can be seen inside the cabinets and drawers, which feature a warm white pigmented oak.
The kitchen island not only grounds the space and makes the room dynamic, it adds functionality and plenty of storage. As the heart of the kitchen, it also provides the perfect place for friends and family to gather.
Being in a state of quarantine, my planned excursion to Italy had to be put on hold. Actually, as everything has a way of turning out alright, I’m ok with that because it gives me more time peruse wonderful stories about Italy that I previously never seemed to find time for. I’m discovering some of the hidden treasures that I’ll take with me…some this September. And if September shall come and go and still I cannot fly to Europe? Well then, I shall peruse even deeper until the time comes when I can. Below is a story from Cereal magazine for all to peruse and enjoy.
“I STAND ON A BALCONY WITH TILES LAID IN DIAGONAL STRIPES, LOOKING OUT INTO THAT INFINITE BLUE UNTIL I AM SUSPENDED IN IT.”
White concrete frames a square of uninterrupted blue. The cloudless sky, the iridescent Tyrrhenian sea, even the land stretching out either side — pastel-painted Sorrento to the left, Vesuvius to the right — is cast in a haze of blue. An impressionist’s dream.
swooning over this blue tile
The concept of infinite blue was architect Gio Ponti’s driving inspiration when he built Parco dei Principi, his slice of 1960s modernism on a coast of faded antiquity. When it opened in 1962, the hotel was something new for ancient Sorrento: a clean-lined, contemporary edifice on the tufa-stone cliff. Inside, the bright, wide-open spaces were pared down and decorated entirely in white and blue.
Ponti was commissioned to build Parco dei Principi when his friend and colleague, the Neapolitan engineer and hotelier Roberto Fernandes, bought the neighboring property, the ballet-shoe-pink 18th century Villa Cortchacow. The villa was originally owned by the Count of Syracuse and then by a Russian prince, who had a mock Gothic castle half-built in the grounds lest his cousin, the last tsar of Russia, should come to stay. Ponti’s challenge was to transform this — perhaps thankfully — unfinished castle.
Gio Ponti was one of the most pioneering architects of the mid-century, with an extraordinary portfolio of buildings that championed forward-looking principles. He was driven by the ideas of transparency and lightness. His diamond-shaped Pirelli tower in Milan soars; his ethereal Taranto Cathedral in Puglia, delicate as a paper cut-out, is known as ‘the Sail’. “He loved to create little spaces of lightness, through elements in the design,” says Caterina Licitra Ponti, his great-granddaughter, a passion for her great-grandfather’s work alive in her eyes.
And so in Sorrento, as in Taranto, he uplifted the castle’s solid stone walls so that the new building seemed to hover above the clifftop, wrapping the interior in a white concrete skin, perforated with spaces that allow the light and the sky to penetrate the framework. On approach, through verdant subtropical gardens, the blue of the sea is visible all the way through the glass-walled ground floor.
Of all Gio Ponti’s 100-odd buildings, Sorrento is the only hotel where you can still stay, fully immersed in his art — for as well as the building itself he designed every last detail. He was not just an architect, but a designer — of interiors, furniture, industry, cars — an artist and a ceramicist, a writer and a teacher; and at Parco dei Principi his passion for so many disciplines converged in one triumphant paean to modernity.
Work was his passion. Every moment was one in which to create. Her grandmother, Lisa — Ponti’s daughter — recalls him waking each morning at 6.00 am. He used to have coffee in bed while he sketched and wrote letters on a tray of his own design — daily correspondence to friends and colleagues about every devilishly intricate detail of his projects, right down to the tablecloths and tiles.
In the lobby, blue and white glazed pebbles are set into the walls, their cool, shiny-smooth surfaces reflecting infinite depths of radiance, chosen, Ponti wrote, for their ‘lightness and grace’, their ‘reflexes of light and sky’. Down in the hotel’s subterranean levels, where there is nobody else about, I put my cheek to the cool of them. It is clear Ponti created this place not just to look at but to touch, too, so that his work would engage and bring delight.
On the bright upper floors, the hotel’s bedrooms are stripped back to the bare essentials, each element designed by Ponti in mid-century modern style and made in Italy: a bed, a chair, a footstool which doubles as a suitcase stand, and a dressing table facing the sea, where I sit and write this story on its smooth Formica top the color of the sky.
Shaded from direct sunshine by the building’s perforated sheath, the room is cooled naturally by the shades of blue and white, and by the ceramic tiles underfoot. Of all Parco dei Principi’s carefully curated details, these ceramic tiles are perhaps the most enduring. Ponti made 30 different designs, all in the dark blue, pale blue, and white of the local seascape — some geometric, some figurative, featuring moons, stars and leaves. They are configured differently in each of the hotel’s 96 rooms.
“I always think of the endless possibilities of the art,” Ponti observed, of creating these tiles. “Give someone a square measuring 20 by 20 and although people have been turning them out for centuries, there’s always room for a new pattern… There will never be a last design.” Here again, the concept of infinite blue. His dream was to make a permanent mark — infinite, like the blue of the sea and the sky.
I stand on a balcony with tiles laid in diagonal stripes, looking out into that infinite blue until I am suspended in it. Below me, a sailing boat cuts across the bay, its wake drawing a straight white line through the water. Above me, a gull hangs steadily for a moment, then soars away into the sky. Borne on the wind, light as air. Gio Ponti is everywhere.