All posts by ginestra

If you can dream it, you can do it

On our way from Marche to Liguria this summer we stopped in Modena to visit the Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari or Enzo Ferrari Museum.

For a family like ours, with an architect mum and a 4 year old who dreams to become a “mechanic for Ducati when I am 5″ this was a great way of spending a summer afternoon.

The house where Enzo Ferrari, founder of the mythical Formula 1 brand, spent his childhood and which he sold to finance the construction of the first Ferrari racing car has been restored and contains an exhibition about his life, while the new, stunning building with the yellow roof is a gallery where at the time of our visit a collection of racing cars, from the early days of Formula 1 to now, that almost brought the budding mechanic and his dad to tears.

The museum is housed in two buildings: Enzo Ferrari’s family house, which he sold to finance the construction of the first Ferrari racing car and a new stunning building by Future Systems and Shiro Studio. Andrea Morgante of Shiro Studio is an old friend and a designer who I admire. I truly enjoyed the space and the surprise of discovering Andrea’s touch in many exquisite details (the door handles! the chairs in the cafe’! the delicious basins in the cloakroom!).

I also loved learning about the remarkable person who was Enzo Ferrari: a true Italian mix of genius, passion and entrepreneurial spirit.

We are adopting his motto “Se lo puoi sognare, lo puoi anche fare/ If you can dream it, you can do it” here at Studio 29!

At the foot of the Monte Rosa

My Italian summer started in Gressoney, a tiny village high in the Alps at the foot of the Monte Rosa.

Gressoney is one of the few Walser communities in Europe. The Walser people, originary from Switzerland, abandoned their homeland, the canton of Valais, and between the X and the XIII century settled in various locations in Switzerland, France, Italy and Austria.

The Walser heritage is still very much alive in Gressoney, in the unique language spoken by the inhabitants, called Titsch (a German Walser dialect), in the architecture of the traditional houses and in the beautiful red, black and gold dresses worn by the women on important occasions.

The style of the typical Walser houses has been determined by the very cold Alpine weather, by the building materials available on site (stone and timber) and by the local economy based mainly on high mountain agriculture and cheese and butter manufacturing.

Usually the houses have a ground floor built in stone and upper floors in timber. The timber logs are squared and notched to form a square self supporting structure. Traditionally moss and resin were used to fill the gaps between the logs. The roof structure is in timber and is covered with stone tiles. The building date is usually carved on the main beam. Often the house has balconies, traditionally used to dry crops.

Tips for friends: garden furniture for a Ligurian paradise

During my Italian holidays we stayed with friends at their house on the hills above Bonassola, a picture perfect sea-side village in Liguria.

The house is a beautifully restored typical old Ligurian house, with green shutters, airy rooms and breath-taking views of Mediterranean beauty and is set in a terraced garden complete with olive trees, a glorious kitchen garden and a pizza area with wood fire oven and the biggest Carrara marble traditional sink that doubles as pizza kneading bench.

My friend asked me tips to furnish her favourite spot with garden furniture, a small terrace away from the house and with a view on the gulf below.

I put together 3 “tips” for garden furniture.

First tip: Timeless & Classic. I adore Milanese historic brand Azucena and their Nogaro range is perfect for timeless understated elegant outdoor furniture, which can be brought in in winter and will look perfect with my friend’s Gervasoni sofas.

Second tip: Glamorous and Comfy. None can beat Dedon for dreamy, whimsical garden furniture. Their Rest Nest and Swing Rest are little masterpieces. For a more feminine style, B&BItalia’s Canasta round sofas are a beautiful option which I would couple with one or two Crinoline chairs.

Third tip: Just Wow! Moroso M’Afrique range has been one of my favourite since it came out. I love each individual piece, the colours and the technique and I love how they look in a natural setting. A treat for the eye.

see also:

House & Garden article Holland Park house September 2016

Sending you a warm breeze… from the North Thames path

Seeing the sun shining this morning meant that I could visit the River Thames on the North Thames path once more before autumn sets in. I started at the Wapping project where they hold regular exhibitions and so I wandered aimlessly like a child into their small but incredibly inviting garden. Then I inspected the historic fabric of the building itself – I felt right at home as I also come from an industrial city. After this I started on the Thames path which took me across large industrial bridges, across courtyards with flowers and past beautiful warehouses with small neat balconies all overlooking the glistening water. All was peaceful apart from the occasional planes and speed boats, a warm breeze created an incredibly relaxing atmosphere where the odd person could be seen reading, gazing or sleeping. It is quite incredible how beautiful the Thames path can be in the right weather.


A date with the Barbican

If I were to tell a tourist in London to visit one place, it would be without doubt the Barbican Centre. I love this place. The Barbican complex has ideals that a student of architecture would only dream of, after years of studying Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright who designed and tried to introduce new ways of living, this place is the reality of such a dream. The collection of rough concrete buildings connects through long passageways, occasionally with views cut out to show glimpses of the sky, water or other blocks around the centre. The complex has been softened by introducing circular shaped blocks, detailed timber shutters, large white arched windows, hanging green foliage and bright bunches of flowers that the residents have planted at the fringes of their terraces. As a whole the buildings and facilities are equivalent to a small city within the big city. It can have a strange feeling as given it’s very central location, it is still so quiet that some people find it eery. My counterpart had never been to such a place before and it was interesting to see his reaction, but the dominant feeling is that you don’t feel that you’re in London at all. We sat there quite relaxed watching a photo shooting that was happening in front of us. The high level of the Barbican apartments command a magnificent view across London as well as across the central lake and water gardens. It all has an incredible theatrical atmosphere as everyone can watch everyone watching them! If you haven’t manage to get there yet I can highly recommend it.

The Green Room

Brighton beauty

Brighton Beauty

The day started off dull and cloudy and then after the misty haze lifted the sky was clear and blue. Looking at the topaz-coloured sea, glistening pebbles and pure blue sky was like being abroad. The beach was a hive of activity including dancing, painting, sunbathing, eating & drinking – whatever you can think of is going on.

After a long walk along the promenade it is obvious that this area has had a lot of well-thought regeneration, especially on the beach area. There is, of course, still the remnants of the previous pier, a delicate skeleton which looks too fragile to hold itself up, and I think it’s a nice scene, the past and the present seen together. The pastel colours of the promenade, sea , and pebbles create a relaxing environment. I originally come from near a place which copies the ideologies of Brighton without the mild weather and the place has the feeling of a ghost town, conclusively Brighton as a contrast is a successful hub and escape from the city, offering good amenities and interesting places to visit.

A room with a view

El Anatsui Royal Academy

El Anatsui Royal Academy

El Anatsui

I was so happy when I read that the Royal Academy had commissioned Ghanaian artist El Anatsui a piece to decorate the Academy’s façade this summer.

I saw his work for the first time at the Hayward Gallery in 2005 (Africa Remix is the exhibition that inspired my interest in contemporary African art) and fell in love.In 2009 I was heartbroken when I missed his exhibition at the October Gallery, so I now I could not wait for the new piece.

I was not disappointed: Tsiatsia-Searching for connection is El Anatsui’s largest bottle-top piece to date and it is as beautiful, as grand and moving as I wanted it to be. Do not miss it!

see also:

Graphic Africa

Before sunset (in Kings Cross)

One beautifully warm evening in early August when staying home would be a shame we jumped on our Vespa and headed East with the idea of reaching the Regents Canal somewhere around Euston and have a walk.
Then I thought of checking out how things are going around Kings Cross and … WOW!
The restaurants on Granary Square were buzzing, the Filling Station was definitely doing its best to re-fuel thirsty trendy types and the children were having a great time IN the fountains.
The silver ribbon by Felice Varini was alive in the light of dusk, the eyes of the architect filled with good architecture and the Londoner’s heart filled for a moment with very un-Londonerish pride.
Then suddenly we realised that the “the largest area of urban redevelopment in Europe” offers an added bonus: its proximity to Caledonian Road and to the great Ethiopian food of Merkato. Both the architect and the Londoner love it.

How to give a multi-storey car park a personality

Sometimes the most underused of buildings can be given a new lease of life. In 2007 Frank’s café was opened in Peckham on the 10th level of an existing multi-storey car park. The café, part of the Bold Tendencies exhibition, is now erected every summer (it once was a pop-up installment). Whilst taking in the 360 degree panoramic cityscape you can treat yourself to a drinks and a meal. The café is erected mainly from large wooden beams crowned in a popping red tarpaulin, the temporary structure is mainly timber. The lower levels of the car park are sprinkled with small soft surface sculptures ( a rest from the hard unhumane concrete cast slabs), video screens and a book stall market selling unique and creative reads. The space itself is enormous and however many people enter the space is never appears to fill. It provides a well deserved breathing space away from the hussle and bussle at street level.

In a way it is quite an unexpected way to enjoy London but it is fascinating, you also have to be quite determined to find it as it is well hidden set back from the main shopping street, my tip is look upwards at the building like architects tend to do!

Serpentine Pavilion 2013 – Sou Fujimoto

This year’s Serpentine pavilion by Sou Fujimoto is a beautiful exercise in dappled shade and filtered views.


Serpentine Pavilion 2013

With glorious weather, the white 3D grid of the Serpentine Pavilion was crisp against the blue sky, but it would look equally charming on a cloudy day.

I cannot wait to visit when it is raining: how will the fish scale-like plexiglass disks work as a roof?

I love the visual impact of Sou Fujimoto’s Serpentine Pavilion and how it sits at gracefully in the park. However, I am not convinced about the ergonomics and the flow of people. Could the designer have been inspired by the modular white tiered flowers of the nearby chestnut trees ? Or the gallery’s lantern as the source of inspiration?

It’s great to be able to walk up the structure and reach the small platforms or so-named “seating areas”.  Seating platforms form part of the path through the structure, this is problematic as once seated people have trouble getting past. This does not provide the spontaneous and relaxing experience one would expect in a garden pavilion. Is this result bad or good design spoilt by health and safety? – (a few rather ugly handrails would suggest so!).

The small white bistro style tables and chairs provide pleasant seating under the layered canopy, but they seem an after thought more than integral with the design.

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