Beautiful Infinite Blue Hotel – Sorrento, Italy

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.”
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
gio-ponti-hotel-parco-dei-principiOf 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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

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“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.VFMLID=1074137304212f566e64500cfc882084ebdd0bb1c
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.
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Parco de principiGio Pontioktober 1997

Cereal magazine

Beautiful Space Needle

See Seattle from 500 feet through the Space Needle’s rotating glass floor. The 605-foot Space Needle is the most iconic structure in Seattle.

Built in 1962, and reportedly purchased by investors for $75,000, the landmark has an observation deck and revolving restaurant at 500 feet, where hundreds of daily visitors hunker down for 360-degree views of Seattle. Now, 56 years later, the Space Needle is unveiling a massive renovation, with many of the new spaces now open to visitors. Guests can also now “float” over Seattle 520 feet up via new Skyrisers by leaning into the tilting glass walls on the open-air deck for an angled vantage point.

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Those who have a fear of heights might not want to look down next time you go up to the Space Needle. One of the centerpieces of the landmark’s massive remodel, designed by Olson Kundig, is now complete: a rotating glass floor, allowing visitors to look down at the 500 feet between them and the ground.

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Called the Loupe, the Space Needle’s new floor gives a view not just of the people milling about below, but the inner workings of the building, giving the viewer a sense of what makes the Needle tick. Counter-weights and the insides of the elevator are both revealed.

The glass floor goes along with newly-open glass walls, doing away with a more closed-off design and adding glass benches that help give the illusion of floating above the city. All together, more than 176 tons of glass were used in the renovation.

As before, the rotating floor will be part of a restaurant—the exact concept is slated to be announced later this year—but for now, visitors can have a drink or a snack on that level at Atmos Wine Bar. Atmos Café is located on the second floor. Want a glass of water or wine with your meal? It’ll pair well with the glass tables, chairs, windows and rotating floor in the reimagined space. Dropping a fork in this place is going to be a newsworthy event!

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Beautiful Lithography Stones

n 2011, while the REI store in the Puck Building in Manhattan’s SoHo district was undergoing renovation, workers made an unexpected discovery. Hidden behind one of the walls of the cellar were more than 100 lithography stones from the building’s days as a printer. They are now on display on the store’s lower floor.

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The historic building got its name from the magazine Puck, the first wide-reaching humor publication in the United States, which was
founded in 1871 and moved to lower Manhattan in 1887. It shared the space, in a mutually beneficial relationship, with its printer, J. Ottman Lithographic Company. Their shared headquarters was the largest building in the printing district at the time.

J. Ottman Lithographic Company printed many things beyond the Puck magazines, including theatrical posters and board games. Among the works now hanging on the REI wall are a high school diploma, a certificate of election, and a mortgage bond. Some of the litho stones are in rougher shape than others.

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Most of the writing and images on the stones is “backwards,” standard practice so that the final print is the reverse of what is seen on the plate or stone. Some, though, were prepared for offset printing, which involves an additional
step between the plate and the final product. The inked image, prepared “forwards,” or as it would be seen in the final product, is first transferred to a rubber blanket, reversing
the image once, and then to the final surface, setting it right.

Puck continued to operate out of the Puck Building until 1918, when it ceased publication. It was known for beautiful, full-color lithographs and sharp political satire. Statues of the magazine’s mascot, Puck, decorate the outside of the building. J. Ottman Lithographic Company shuttered around the same time.
Other printing companies, and even another satirical magazine, have called the building home since the original tenants left.

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During REI’s renovation, a deliberate effort was made to repurpose materials from the original building. Fixtures from the steam engine that powered the presses are on permanent display, including two flywheels and the governor. Nineteenth century I. P. Frink chandeliers, newly fitted with LED lights, help light the main floor.

 Source: Atlas Obscura

Beautiful Historic Homes

I love architecture and when I’m out-and-about I sometimes find myself stalking the neighborhood to check the latest and greatest home designs. With the building frenzy going on in Seattle and so many structures being torn down and replaced at such a rapid pace, I’m developing a new appreciation for the beauty of old homes and buildings. I’m personally a fan of modern design with the less is more approach but my heart holds a special place for authentic craftsman style homes in Seattle, the colorful Victorian homes in SF and Row Houses in DC. It amazes me how much residential architecture can define a city. Put them in a different location and they almost look silly. Hopefully more will be preserved so that a cities don’t lose their historic identity. Enjoy these images, one day they may become just that, an image.

San Francisco Victorians

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Row Houses of Washington, DC
Many of these are about 200 years older than the SF Victorians and 300 years older than the Seattle Craftsman Bungalows! Built long before western states even existed. Amazing they have survived.

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Seattle Craftsman Bungalows
With the Seattle building boom, sadly many of these are disappearing and being torn down only to be replaced with what I consider poorly designed modern homes and condos. I am a huge fan of well designed modern homes however the surrounding neighborhood and homes always need to be taken into consideration.

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Beautiful Bauhaus Art

3,900 Pages of Paul Klee’s personal notebooks (1921-1931) are online. I love his art and thoughts on color and really enjoy his works. Klee taught at the Bauhaus in Weimar from 1921 to 1926 and in Dessau from 1926 to 1931. During his tenure, he was in close contact with other Bauhaus masters such as Kandinsky and Lyonel Feininger.

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Beautiful Photos Of Paris

Have you ever got totally lost in blog as if you fell through a rabbit
hole? You try to sleep or do something else more productive but as
you flip through the pages the images are so enchanting you just
can’t stop yourself. This happened to me when I discovered
photographer Hannah Lemholt. Her images are breathtaking,
as if in a dream. I am so drawn to her photos of Paris. I hope you
enjoy them as much as I do. Sweet Dreams.
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Photos by Hannah Lemholt