Beautiful Italy

With Italy on my mind, I’d like to feature a gorgeous interior because well, we need a little more beauty in our lives. Presenting Vincenzo De Cotiis villa, Pietrasanta – Tuscany, Italy
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I love the idea of Old is New Again. I also believe that when we experience global disasters such as the current pandemic, we learn to appreciate history even more – especially Italy.

When we are forced to look at humanity from a wider perspective, we see the beauty of the human endeavor. The work and effort, the talent and skill, the appreciation of beauty, and the value of cooperation. Saving what is valuable and beautiful to us  becomes even more important than before.
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Milan-based Vincenzo De Cotiis renovated this beautiful villa for himself and his wife and business partner.
3He has overhauled the 5,500-square-foot (510-square-metre) early 18th-century villa in Pietrasanta by the sea in Tuscany, in a grandiose but understated, elegantly distressed minimalist style that is often evident in his palazzo renovations.

4This particular palazzo was built by a local painter, Antonio Digerini, who died in 1889, but it has served many purposes over the centuries including being a cloister and a hotel.

I love the exposed patina of the walls and ceiling beams, the minimalist emptiness of the rooms and the lack of unnecessary objects. The color palette is also beautifully muted with soft hints of cold greens and warmer brick-tones.

5In several spaces, the texture and tone of the patina of the original walls and ceilings is replicated in dyed, gessoed and sanded Belgian linen used for parts of the walls and ceilings. Most of the marble is local as the area is famous for its marble quarries.

6Many of the furnishings and art are of De Cotiis’s own creation and design and although their vibe is futuristic and even slightly brutalist, they fit seamlessly with the villa’s cold-cool ambiance. The balance exudes a sense of calm but in an eerily powerful way. It isn’t cozy or comfortable overall, yet it is inviting and interesting for those of us who love his style.

7De Cotiis doesn’t promise to create an environment in a style any client might want. But you can’t help but respect his boldness.

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Learn more here

Beautiful Apartment Renovation in Milan

All’Arco by Tommaso Giunchi + Atelierzero
All’Arco is a minimal 19th-century apartment located in Milan, Italy, designed by Atelierzero + Tommaso Giunchi. The main goal was the creation of an apartment in which a contemporary approach could fit within the unique soul of the original space. The internal distribution has undergone some changes to meet the needs of the new tenants, a couple with two children, who often love to host friends and family at home. The dining room and the living room, initially divided by an internal wall, have been united, creating a single vast space, defined by calm green light color.
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The prominent feature of the apartment is its long hallway, a large distribution space that connects the living and sleeping areas, creating fascinating perspectives throughout the space. Here, the original and diverse floors have been removed and replaced with a continuous surface of contemporary cement tiles, which, referring to the traditional Milanese ones, give a touch of contemporaneity thanks to their geometric design. The main bathroom has undergone the most important renovation, combining travertine details with Moroccan design tiles, which juxtapose the flooring of the corridor.
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The existing most defining design elements, such as wooden doors and their decorative details, classic stucco ceilings, and elegant wooden floors, have been maintained, offering a counterpart to the contemporary materials, finishes, and colors of the project. Besides allowing a sense of continuity to the renovation process, this also provides contrast with the juxtaposed new elements.
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Love this door!

Photography by Simone Furiosi

Beautiful Palace

The Fenix Palace is a minimalist space located in Stockholm, Sweden, designed by Staffan Holm for Ariake. Mixing contemporary Japanese handcraft, handpicked artisans and producers and a Swedish interior dating back to 1912, The Fenix Palace is a celebration of good collaborations in an unusual setting.

The building where the exhibition was held is the work of architect Hjalmar Westerlund and originally housed a number of well-known restaurants, a dance hall, a theatre and a bowling alley. Since 1940 it has been owned by the City church, and its premises are rarely open to the public.
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Beautiful Axiom Desert House

Based on the Axiom 2110 and featuring the Turkel Design signature post-and-beam construction and an open great room breezing out to a private courtyard, the 2,080-square-foot Axiom Desert House draws from the lifestyle and culture of Palm Springs—seamlessly blending indoor and outdoor living while incorporating innovative and energy-efficient products and systems throughout.
axiom desert house 1Recently completed in February 2019, Axiom Desert House, Featured Home at this year’s Palm Springs Modernism Week—turns heads as a stunning, systems-built jewel that is now the private residence of designers Joel and Meelena Turkel, as well as a Living Lab for Turkel Design. The home’s open plan, indoor/outdoor flow, and thoughtful use of sustainable materials are a testament to modern prefab, celebrating transformative design that is simple, elegant, and replicable.
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axiom desert house 3axiom desert house 4Many cultures feature houses with rooms grouped around a private courtyard: this is a take on that venerable tradition. Passing through a flat-roofed entry, the space expands as you encounter a high, beamed ceiling, sloping upward to 12 feet. This is the great room – 40 feet in length, it opens directly onto the walled courtyard through glass panels that slide away into hidden pockets. An especially admired feature of the room is a 4-by-12-foot window-seat extending into and overlooking the courtyard. This too has operable glass panels that tuck away into pockets: a charming place to lie down—even sleep—“half-in, half-out.”

axiom desert house 5axiom desert house 6axiom desert house 7axiom desert house 8Master suites occupy both ends of this “L” shaped home, each with private access to the courtyard; an ideal arrangement for a shared vacation home, in town or out. While being careful to ensure privacy, the outward facing walls stop short of the overhanging roof, bringing in balancing light and capturing expansive outward views.
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A custom daybed in the living room becomes part of the outdoor furnishings when the Marvin lift and slide doors are open. (Click to view video)

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The children’s room features fold-away bunk beds and an Oslo Sofa wall bed system (not shown) by Resource Furniture

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To receive invitations to open houses and design events at Living Lab,join the TD Community here, and follow on Facebook and Instagram to stay up-to-date on all of their projects across the U.S., Canada, and beyond.

Beautiful Vintage Camera

I was strolling through a used camera shop over the holidays not looking for anything in particular and what to my wondering eyes did appear – an antique box camera sitting on the floor in a corner for god knows how long, as I picked up. I dusted it off and asked the friendly man at the counter WTH is this? He was only too happy to tell me it was a box camera. I was probably the first person to pick it up in 100 years much less inquire about what it was. As he explained to me what it was and how it worked, you simply aim and shoot, he was surprised it was in great condition. In fact, it was in such great condition, he wanted it for himself. Without thinking much about it, I paid the asking price of $20, bought some 120 B/W film and took it home.

The question was, now what am I going to do with this? Play with it of course!

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This was the first photo I took with my box camera. One thing I discovered – you have to remember to roll the film forward otherwise you end up with a double image, or in this case, 3 images. It does not advance for you – Oops

BC FENCEIf the subject is too close (less than 10ft away) it will appear blurry.

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This is the result if you don’t hold it steady. 

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The camera I have is a bit fancy for it’s day. It has a little metal tab that is you pull it out it has a yellow filter resulting in stronger contrast. This is something I need to experiment more with.

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A Little History about the Brownie
First introduced by Kodak back in 1888, the box camera is one of the simplest forms of camera out there. Popular until halfway through the 20th century, they started to disappear as 35mm SLRs and rangefinders started to take over. The box was marketed by Eastman Kodak Co as the “Brownie”.

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Basic Operation
The Brownie operates under the simple idea of aim and shoot:

1: A shutter in the front of the camera is opened allowing light to pass through the lens. This light is reflected from the object being photographed.

2: As the light passes through the lens it forms an image of the object being photographed. As it continues through the lens, this image is inverted (turned upside-down).

3: The lens projects the inverted image onto light-sensitive film at the back of the box.

In order to keep the consumer’s cost low, the Brownies did not have the best lenses, shutters, internal mechanisms, or outer coverings. They were, however, of comparatively high quality for their day. A Brownie that was made in the 1940s, for example, if it was attended to under relatively good conditions and kept clean and in working order, may be relied upon to take reasonably sharp, clear pictures even today.

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Lenses
Most Brownies came with a fixed-focus lens, either meniscus (concave on one side/convex on the other, with light entering from the concave side) or doublet (two lenses of similar construction with the shutter mounted between them). The doublet lens provides a magnifying effect, however slight, that the meniscus cannot duplicate. The term fixed focus refers to a factory setting, on the Brownies usually from eight feet to infinity, at which sharp pictures could be taken.

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Shutters
In most cases, since simplicity was its greatest feature, the rotary shutter on a Brownie was either a single speed only. Early Brownies employed a shutter release lever on the lower right-hand-side of the box, whereas later models might have had a push-button. Shutter speeds for the Brownie could be pre-set anywhere from 1/25th to 1/50th of a second.

Apertures
Since the Brownie was by its very nature a camera that anyone could use, lens apertures were also pre-determined. Some, however, came with a feature that allowed a smaller lens opening to be used, on days with brighter sunshine and so forth. This was engaged by yet another lever located at the top center of the camera’s front panel which could be pulled up or pushed down for smaller or larger aperture, respectively.

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Viewfinders
Most Brownies had viewfinders with a reflex mirror assembly. Simply put, the camera had a window in front, a window at the top, and an angled mirror inside that connected the two. In order to compose the picture, it was necessary to hold the camera at about waist-level and look down into the finder. Once the subject was composed in the approximate center of the viewfinder, the shutter lever could then be depressed. There were no framing marks in the viewfinder. If the Brownie took square pictures (6 cm x 6 cm), it would have only one center viewfinder; if it took rectangular pictures (6 cm x 9 cm), it would have two finders, one on top and one on the side. In the case of the latter, the top finder was for portrait and the side finder for landscape pictures.

It is interesting to note here that many Kodak instruction manuals of the period advised the photographer to hold his breath when shooting a picture. This provided a simple method of making sure the camera stayed still during exposure.

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Photos taken with box camera around 1890s

Camera Body
Early camera bodies were constructed of either metal or leatherette-covered cardboard and were priced to match the construction. Later, with the development of Bakelite and other plastics, construction of the cameras was almost entirely given over to this “new” material, both inside and out, exception being given to lenses and internal shutter mechanisms.

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FILM
When the Brownies were first marketed, they came in all possible sizes and took all manner of roll films available at the time. Today, they take 120 roll film in black/white or color. When in the 1930s Eastman Kodak created 616 and 620 film (essentially the same size film as 116 and 120 but on a modified spool) to ensure that Kodak users used only Kodak film, the Brownie designs were altered to take these rolls. Eastman Kodak and all other film manufacturers had discontinued 616 and 620 film by the 1980s. Since 120 film is still in use as a “professional” film it is widely available, but in order for it to be used easily in a 620-roll film Brownie it must first be re-rolled onto a 620 spool.

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Women at a market stall about 1890

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Children paddling in the sea about 1890

Final thought – The camera I am holding so carefully in my hands was once cradled in the same way by another living person before I was born. I thought about this the first time I used it and will probably continue to think about each time I take a photo. With millions of instant photos taken every day, and posted to social media sites often without a thought, the Brownie has changed the way I look at picture making.

Photos – National Media Museum

 

Beautiful Places to Visit In Soho

SoHo and its surrounds; a hip, bustling enclave in Lower Manhattan known for its historic architecture, art galleries and designer boutiques. Read below to discover top spots and favorite haunts.

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Exploring BDDW
BDDW is a must for any interior design lover. As soon as you step into the labyrinth-like showroom, you can totally see why the company has a cult following. The solid wood furniture, all made by hand, is at once minimalist and rustic – the kind of pieces you will own forever – and accompanied by exquisite objets d’art, from handmade ceramics to vintage fashion to one-of-a-kind paintings. This is an interiors store like no other – just take a deep breath and enjoy!

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Perusing Roman and Williams Guild
Roman and Williams Guild takes retail to a whole new level with a two-story space that houses The Founding Collection design showroom, French all-day eatery La Mercerie and a florist. At the café, everything from the tableware to the tables is for sale. Diners not only receive a menu but also a dim sum-style card with illustrations of plates, napkins and candlesticks that can be purchased and delivered the same day. How’s that for service?

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Popping in to The Primary Essentials
Next destination is one of Armadillo & Co’s local NYC stockists. Founder Lauren Snyder is a former fashion stylist and her discerning eye is reflected in a curation of artisanal goods that feels hand-worked without being crafty. Lauren is an advocate for independent design and an expert in advising customers on how to organize, spruce up or completely overhaul their homes. This space, like its Brooklyn counterpart, boasts a considered array of tabletop, ceramics, textiles and stationery.

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Lighting jungle at Ochre
A few blocks over is the forever stunning store Ochre, a British brand renowned for its custom light installations crafted from unusual materials like blown glass, chain mail, saddle leather and horsehair. The Broome Street store oozes sophistication, with glamorous chandeliers adorning the ceilings and beautifully refined furnishings lining both walls.

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At home with The Apartment by The Line
The entry to The Apartment is not obvious to the general passer-by, as you have to head up a very small elevator to reach it. Once the doors open, you’re greeted by a high-end atelier laid out like a real home (albeit one belonging to someone with enviable taste in fashion and décor). Intimate, storied objects are dotted throughout the space, which unfolds from a monochromatic bedroom complete with freestanding bathtub, to an elegant dining room that doubles as a home office, and finally, a walk-in wardrobe brimming with luxe basics.

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Lunch dining at Sant Ambroeus
Lunch is at old favorite Sant Ambroeus, a modern Milanese restaurant on Lafayette. With its classic New York style interiors, the atmosphere is lively and chic. The menu puts a contemporary spin on northern Italian cuisine, with signature dishes like vitello tonnato and cotoletta alla milanese.pic 8.pngScents at Le Labo
Fragrance label Le Labo’s SoHo outlet is soulful and irreverent, with raw materials strewn about in sensory vignettes. Their approach is incredibly personalized, with each bottle freshly blended and hand-labelled in front of the customer – but it is their values that I admire most. The brand is 100% vegan, opting for synthetic fragrances that have been lab-tested on humans instead of animal products.

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Pretty in pink at Pietro Nolita
A mid-afternoon slump calls for a visit to the Pinterest-worthy Pietro Nolita, a tiny and very pink Italian restaurant whose candy-colored stone entryway leads into a blush-tinged boudoir. Inside, everything looks like it is being viewed through rose-colored glasses, from the walls to the ceiling, tableware, chairs and bank seating. The bathroom received the pink treatment too!

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Interior indulgence at Ulla Johnson
Venturing off-track, divert north to the beautiful Ulla Johnson boutique on tree-lined Bleecker Street. Like the designer’s soft apparel, the interior feels like a tactile celebration of femininity and optimism. I love this store as much for its interiors as for its fashion, with finishing touches provided by artisans near and far, including a bronze door handle by Rogan Gregory, pendant light from Lindsay Adelman, macramé wall hanging by Taynya Aguiñiga and rotating floral arrangements from Saipua.

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Blooms at Adore Floral Inc.
Neighborhood floral studio Adore brings a touch of color and romance to SoHo’s concrete jungle with an organic flower market feel and a gorgeous selection of rare blossoms, fresh cut greenery and leafy house plants.

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Drawing inspiration from Olsen Gruin Gallery 
The Olsen Gruin Gallery, slightly off-track in Chinatown. The contemporary art gallery was founded by a trio of fellow Aussies – art dealer Tim Olsen (son of artist John Olsen and brother to Dinosaur Designs owner Louise Olsen) and gallerists Emerald and Adrian Gruin. Despite its pristine presentation, it has a familiar and friendly Australian vibe.

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Drinks and dinner at 11 Howard
The day comes to an end with drinks and dinner at Le Coucou. The Parisian restaurant is located within 11 Howard, a boutique hotel known for its “conscious hospitality” – the hotel works with the Global Poverty Project, so every direct booking goes towards fighting inequality around the world. The Scandinavian-inspired bar is perfect for lounging – enjoy the sleek interiors and fabulous cocktails before you head into the restaurant.

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Originally published Armadillo & Co.

Beautiful Farmhouse

Recently I came across a stunning home that stopped me in my tracks. By Yoanna Kulas, this beautiful Farm style home is located near the shores of Lake Michigan. Below is the imagery of this beautiful home, along with a bit of background about the project.

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Completed in May last year, this is the second home that Yoanna has built with her husband. Wanting to downsize from their previous home – a large French provincial home on three acres of land – and move closer to the city, nearer the beautiful Lake Michigan in Winnetka, they found just the right property. Surrounded by beautiful trees, she immediately had a vision for the new home.

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Wanting to live a much simpler life and create a lovely environment for her family, Yoanna is both fascinated and inspired by Belgian style architecture and interiors, and also very much influenced by Scandinavian design. The style is simple, feminine and minimalistic, keeping the color palette neutral, mixing different textures and bringing light inside by choosing the right windows. The interiors are surrounded by beautiful things without clutter and unnecessary objects.

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Taking two years to complete, Yoanna worked with architect Michael Abraham of Michael Abraham Architecture and Mick De Giulio of De Giulio Design for the kitchen and master bath. She carried out all the other interior (and landscape design) herself, carefully choosing every element including wide plank European White Oak flooring, White Carrara honed marble countertops and custom wood cabinetry. The same approach was applied to the furniture, lighting and accessories. The master bedroom and kitchen lighting is by Belgium brand Delta Light, and the dining room table and benches and kitchen counter stools are by Antwerp-based AM Designs. The living room features Togo sofas and chairs by Ligne Roset, lamps by Flos and hand made hemp rugs from Turkey.

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Large-scale art works that feature throughout the home are by Wesley Kimler and Marc Chagall, and the beautiful kitchen china is by Belgium designer Piet Boon. Wanting to create the master bedroom and bathroom as a calming place to relax and unwind, Yoanna chose Gervasoni Ghost furniture by Paola Navone and a beautiful freestanding bath. The gorgeous powder room accessories are by London-based designer Malgorzata Bany, whose work I introduced you to here.

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Function and livability were hugely important when it came to the design of the home. The incredible indoor-outdoor flow is defined by huge steel and glass doors that open up to a covered barbecue area, where natural timber furniture creates a seamless connection with the interior. The landscape design beautifully compliments the exterior of the home, a mix of white stucco and cedar wood, while the custom front door, hand made in Poland, creates quite an impact.

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First published http://www.thedesignchaser.com
Photos are by Belen Aquino