Restored with ultimate respect to local tradition, Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita, situated in the Sassi area of Matera, a town in Southern Italy is a 9,000-year-old Italian cave dwelling. Literally cut into the volcanic tufa of the Matera hillside, the caves of Sextantio Le Grotte Della Civita were originally a stronghold for Italian peasants. Forcibly removed in the 1950s, many of the peasants came back against the government’s wishes. Today, the area has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is attracting curious travelers to its snaking rooftop streets, craggy hillside drop offs, and stone cathedrals.
At Sextantio Le Grotte Della Civita, great care was put into restoring the 18-room hotel. They were very clever in keeping the integrity of the caves intact by using the original architectural materials from the area, disguising the use of modern technology and maintaining the new design to a minimum. The decor of the rooms is very basic using plain furniture built out of recycled materials, yet keeping the rural historic tradition through colors, textures, scents and even candles identified with the area. Where elements needed to be added to bring in modern amenities, like freestanding Stark baths, were chosen based on their unobtrusive design. Their philosophy was not to betray the ‘soul’ of the building, but to preserve the caves’ rural heritage. Stunning perspectives, original hand-hewn church building blocks, and some dramatic illumination make for magical moments at this extraordinary hotel.
To stay at this sensational boutique hotel, rates start at $131 per night, from here.
Villa Ercolano is nestled high above the ocean in the town of Ercolano, in the province of Naples in Southern Italy, designed by Fabrizia Frezza Architecture & Interiors. The villa dates back to the 1970s and had an excellent structural base on which to build. The internal distribution, especially at the ground level, did not need substantial changes, however it had to be updated and relieved. A dark and disharmonious atmosphere existed due to the use of tiles, stonework, dark wood frames, custom-made dark wooden furniture, fabrics and decorations of every kind. Moreover, the interior of the villa did not reflect the exterior, which denoted a typical Mediterranean style with its form and the white stucco of the walls. The main objective of my project was to recreate the harmony between the interior and the exterior. I brightened the ambiance with the use of waxed, white terracotta at the ground floor. At the first floor I chose bleached oak wood, more suitable for the sleeping area, which combined the candour of white with the warmth of wood. The window frames themselves have been bleached and modified to let as much sunlight as possible filter through.
The lighting coming from outside, reflected by the sea, the white of the stucco and of the floors, the pastel-colored linens in the bedrooms, and the deep purple velvet sofas in the living room, are the background for the family’s antique furniture and for the pieces exclusively designed. Selected family furniture, as the armoires and a large dresser, were rediscovered, whitened and finely decorated with gold patina giving the rooms a harmonious retro feeling. The elegance and simplicity of the house can also be found in the bathrooms, where the white predominates in the stone sinks combined with modern polished steel accessories. The choice of the white has given brightness to the terrace, where the sole colored elements are the blue of the swimming pool, the sky and the sea and the dark wood of some furnishings. The white, built-in chaise lounge at the edges of the swimming pool stands out against the surreal landscape of the city of Herculaneum in the background dominated by the imposing Mount Vesuvius.
Photos: Courtesy of Fabrizia Frezza Architecture & Interiors
Villa Ferraro, also known as the Hotel “Belsito”, is owned by an old important family from Capri, Italy and presented itself as an old decadent building which lost its Mediterranean character. The garden, even though preserved in its charm, was in an evident state of abandon and deterioration. It extends itself till the big covering roof terrace, which, despite the beautiful view towards Marina Piccola’s bay, was used as a huge deposit for water tanks. Designed by Fabrizia Frezza Architecture & Interiors, the main goal was to bring back to life the original character of the building. The villa, now used as a private residence, develops itself on two levels.
At the ground floor there are two living rooms, the dining room, the kitchen and a service apartment. In all the rooms the old vaulted ceilings were restored. For the flooring the architect chose white terracotta treated with wax. Shades of white with accents of color were used for the whole ground floor to give more vivacity and brightness to the environment. The night area is situated on the upper floor, where every room has its own bathroom. On this floor typical ceramic tiles from Capri were chosen to frame and highlight the white terracotta flooring. In the bathrooms there are ceramics which differ in colors and drawings. Old vaulted ceilings were restored on this floor too, cross vaults in the rooms and bathrooms, and barrel vaults in the hallway.
Mediterranean taste was recreated even externally using large typical Capri style columns which predominate the front facade of the villa. On the big covering roof terrace the architect chose to give a more modern accent by using a predominant total white, interrupted by a thin and long water blade, which runs longitudinally through the whole terrace and ends in a big stonework jacuzzi.
The interior design is mainly composed of furniture conceived by the architect with a few worldwide selected pieces such as the big leather trunk, the imposing crystal black chandelier in the hall and the antique Venetian mirror of the late 1700s. To create a warm and cozy atmosphere, the architect used neutral shades for the fabrics (cotton and linen) and furniture, with a few accents of color to confer the chromatic brightness which characterizes the Brazilian clients.
In the garden the Capri style was introduced by using a few Mediterranean elements such as the big central oven, the soft masonry bench placed under a wisteria arbor and the big wrought iron table with a ceramic tile top, designed by the same architect. To recreate the warmth and beauty of the island and to donate a more naturalistic aspect, many different and colorful plants were introduced to compose a beautiful scented garden. In virtue of the importance that the building had in the past, the red Pompeian color of the facade has been re-established as well.
Three hundred ballot boxes turn an ex-industrial space used for carpentry into a spacious and original loft in Florence, Italy designed by b-arch architecture. The property was once a dyeworks in the nineteenth century, a carpenter’s workshop in the fifties, today ‘Box House’ is the residential loft of an architect whose design language and signature style is the fusion of modern and antique. Alessandro Capellaro and his partner Sabrina Bignami of B-arch architecture studio are both interested in the integration of contemporary language into historical contexts.
The architect has the challenge of foreseeing the potential of a space that might look very different from the final project, renovating it in a modern key, and adapting it to modern aesthetics and ways of life that still preserve the charm and essence of the historic atmosphere. As soon as Capellaro saw this space, he knew he wanted to transform the ex-industrial carpentry area into his own living room. “Behind the saws and planers that submerged from the wood, I saw an open space, free from conventions and full of memories.”
His design aimed to free up the space, removing partitions and replacing extant small windows with much larger ones that go all the way up to the vaulted ceiling, in order to create extra-large, bright space. But the memory of the old carpenter’s workshop is not dismissed, but it is indeed evoked in a new, original and fun way through the distinctive furniture which is the true, leading character of the house.
Three hundred wooden boxes – authentic ballot boxes from the 1940s – are arranged in every room, acting as creative boiserie in the dining room, a mobile counter in the kitchen, as a cupboard, couch, desk, and even bed. Sensing the enormous creative potential in these boxes, the architect purchased them en bloc at an auction with the intention of turning them into shelves or real base modules with which to design very personal furniture.
The natural wood tones are also found in the industrial hardwood flooring that paves all environments. The harmonic shades of this material are maintained and matched in relation with other materials used, such as cement which accents soft and natural atmospheres, or iron; originally used as coating in the bathroom.
Even more fascinating is the contrast of the colorful design pieces that architect has surrounded himself with, collected over time, or of the vintage lamps of his own production, paintings and vases. Original Robin Day chairs from the sixties surround the old dining table and “readymade” found objects that come directly from the streets are located at the entrance, such as the operating-room lamp.
In this modern loft in the heart of the historical center of Florence, pieces of personal life relate dialectically with recycled objects in an installation that relates both to collective national memory and to fresh, real life.
Villa Anacapri is exposed to both the north and the south on Capri Island, Italy, designed by Fabrizia Frezza Architecture & Interiors. The house, despite its small size, has two units within which are distinct and separate from each other. The small size of the rooms compounded by the fact that the light could not come inside because of the fixtures in the English style, with little glazed area and the fact that outside there was a heavy arbor wood which threw a shadow on the terrace and windows.
The exterior, however, with coverage at times and white plaster walls, was typical of Mediterranean architecture. Two major objectives of the project: create continuity between inside and outside, thus creating a typical Mediterranean inside and try to redouble square meters through a rationalization of the environments and routes internal, use of appropriate materials and open as possible to those on the outside terrace.
The structure is developed along the North-South axis, and it is along this direction which have been distributed to key environments, such as kitchen, dining room, living room, which go to form that ‘unique’ with the external environment through the use large glass surfaces and the use of the floor inside and outside. Thus, the small size of the villa, only 75 square meters, it doubles and the outside, the terrace which overlooks the living area, is experienced as an integral part of the house. The same material used for the floors, a stone made up, with dark gray, designed and made by hand to achieve, is also used for the bathrooms and kitchen, where sinks and showers are made to measure as small pieces of design, it always continued to give color to the surroundings.
While maintaining the appearance typical “island” with the white of the times and the walls, the project is for the design included a more modern, elegant and minimal at the same time with the furniture designed by Italian personally. The furniture in natural oak wood, fabrics and dark gray color complements vermilion red, which characterizes and contrasts the environments, introducing vibrant color to the unity of housing.
Elegance and design is the core of the project, every single object, from the smallest to the largest reflecting research and innovation. Wood, stone, brick and glass blend with each other through form and function giving soul and warmth than the built and natural beauty that surrounds them. The long sessions of masonry terrace, covered with mattresses and pillows, sinuous move along the perimeter of the villa offering a joyful view of the sea and isolation of Ischia.
We just received a press release on the collaboration between the incredible Italy-based furniture company, Natuzzi and Fabrizio Plessi, one of the most important and innovative artists on the contemporary scene. An installation will be on display at the Salone Internazionale del Mobile this year called “The Shape of Energy”, which was created by Plessi, echoing the dynamism, innovation and energy which has continuously inspired Pasquale Natuzzi and his company.
Lava will be the central feature of the video-installations and works that will be exhibited throughout the surface area and indoor venues of the historic Palazzo Caproni in Via Durini, where the Milanese Natuzzi Flagship store is located. The artist has created an installation of powerful visual impact, immersing visitors into a strong sensorial experience. The primordial fascinating beauty of lava seems to flow through the furniture and design objects of 2014 Natuzzi collection. Screens, digital stones, sounds and Plessi’s designs will be theatrically exhibited in the shop simulating a continuous flow, as a tribute to the Natuzzi’s vitality, energy and creativity.
The installation The Shape of Energy will be exhibited at the Natuzzi Italia’s Flagship Store in Via Durini until the 5th of May 2013. Within the Natuzzi Open Art project (whose mission is to make art accessible to everyone), Fabrizio Plessi will create, together with Natuzzi, an exclusive product collection which will be part of the Natuzzi catalogue. They will be authentic pieces of art created for everyone, where the value of art merges with the value of design and materials. A union made under the sign of value, for the benefit of the consumer.
This sounds like a fascinating exhibition not to be missed for trendsetters, those who love design, trendy furnishings and art installations. Please have a look at the video below and let us know your thoughts and impressions. If you want further information on this event or on Natuzzi furnishings, please visit their website here.
This stunning modern apartment renovation called ‘Casa-O’ has been carried out by the architectural firm Alvisi Kirimoto + Partners in the Villa Bonellia of the Italian capital in Rome. A typical seventies style apartment, the home was revised and restructured in every detail to make a living space suitable for a couple with two small children. To give life to the restoration project was a ‘ female ‘ team of architects with feminine intuition and with great professionalism was able to interpret the needs of the entire family. Developed on a single floor and with a surface of 1,614 square feet (150 square meters), the home is characterized by the division of public and private living spaces.
Bleached oak flooring extends throughout the apartment and the white color of walls and ceilings as well as much of the furnishings, including many custom made designs by the architects, give aesthetic continuity in these two units. The large L-shaped balcony that runs along the outer sides of the living room and a second smaller terrace which looks out onto the master bedroom were paved with teak planks that fit in perfectly with the brick facade. Suspended ceilings incorporate lighting, a stereo and video surveillance. The architects have given great attention to design of every small detail of the house-or, managing to turn it into a harmonious and bright apartment, made of lines and details typical of the minimalist Japanese culture and other archetypes of the living.
La Casa Del Tempo (The House of Time) is situated in Venice, Italy on the Grand Canal. This colorful apartment interior was designed in 2010 by Claudia Pelizzari Interior Design for a couple of collectors of contemporary art, which has been installed by a unique picture hanging system. With high ceilings, exposed beams and a wonderful open plan design, this light-filled home features spectacular views over the canal.
Photos: Giorgio Baroni
Relax Tra Gli Ulivi is a stunning rustic farmhouse in Tuscany, Italy designed by Claudia Pelizzari Interior Design in 2007. The home showcases cutting-edge design solutions and traditional materials. With exposed wood beams, stone walls and limestone flooring, this cozy family home is the perfect weekend retreat. Colorful furnishings are splashed throughout the home, vintage and modern are mixed to create a lived-in feeling and a welcoming ambiance.
Photos: Giorgio Baroni
Tucked away in the Tuscan hillside not far from the cultural centers of Florence and Siena, Borgo Santo Pietro is a luxurious thirteenth century private retreat set within 13 acres of enchanting gardens. A resting place for pilgrims en route to Rome 800 years ago, this ancient site continues to provide sanctuary to its guests today. Elegant and sympathetically designed interiors and grounds provide the perfect setting to experience sheer indulgence.
All of the rooms are unique and have been created to reflect authentic luxurious Italian style that gives the guests the sense of staying at an exclusive, ancient country villa. With fifteen guest room, eight of which are suites, each room provides a sitting area and a view to remember. The extensive grounds at Borgo Santo Pietro include an orchard, organic fruits and vegetable garden, tranquil lawns and a beautiful pool as well as a tennis court, basketball court and a bocce pitch for the more active guests. A playground is set away from the peaceful seclusion of the garden.
Innovative, world class cuisine created from the villa’s private organic gardens, a velar of fine international and Italian wines, spa treatments, impeccable service and passionate attention to details are set in a refreshingly relaxed and intimate environment. Borgo Santo Pietro offers ultimate quality with the personal touch for truly exclusive escape in the breathtaking surroundings of Tuscany.
Prices for guest rooms range from $488.79 – $1,166.58 per night, from here.