Tag Archives: architects in maida vale

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

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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In praise of (dappled) shadows and light

Like every Italian I have a passion for vistas and light.

Therefore, when, in welcoming our family to her place on the Greek island of Paxos, my friend told us we would sleep in the main house which has a 180 degrees view on the Mediterranean, while she would stay in the little house deep in the olive grove, I thanked her for being, as usual, the most generous and unselfish hostess. When she insisted that she actually prefers the house with no view, I was sure this was plainly a white lie: of course everybody would prefer the uninterrupted view of the sea, of the light of the red and purple sunsets and of the star studded night sky!
But then…

..she told me how much she likes the golden light filtering through the branches of the trees – these are wild and overgrown olive trees, planted centuries ago by the Venetians who conquered this part of Greece, not the small, gnarled olivi of Tuscany and Puglia – , how she loves the silvery tones of the leaves’ canopy in the evening and the sound of the wind, gently rustling them.
… then I noticed the dappled shadows on the ground and how its pattern overlaps the texture of dry leaves and small rocks on the ground. I felt the presence of the sea, beyond the trees and did not mind I could not see it.
… then, in the dim light, the texture of the dry walls and of the tree trunks and of the branches against the sky all showed so clear, like in an etching.
I picked up my camera and tried to capture all this, all the way thinking that she is really a special friend.