LUX checks in to Borgo Santandrea, a sweet spot on the Amalfi coast which feels far from the madding tourist crowds

‘Everybody should have one talent, what’s yours?’ Or so says Dickie Greenleaf in the thriller – most recently a Netflix hit – TheTalented Mr Ripley. If it was Italy, rather than criminal Tom Ripley, responding, the answer would not be ‘forging signatures, telling lies, impersonating practically anybody’, but, perhaps, ‘Venezia, Roma, Toscana… Amalfi’. But how could one pick just one? Across its various shooting locations Ripley’s Amalfi shone out in staggering blue. I couldn’t resist.

A private beach, a pool, and ancient buildings look out onto the Amalfi Coast

A private beach, a pool, and ancient buildings look out onto the Amalfi Coast

It’s hard not to reach for clichés when, checking into the room, one is faced with a vast abstract painting of two blues – that is, sea and sky – contained like a Rothko in their window frame. The room seems to lead one towards this, across bespoke furniture and their signature tiles of blue and white.

Read More: Mandarin Oriental, Zurich, Review

Tucked away, 52 metres above sea level, one sleeps cocooned in something which is clean, refreshingly modern. And yet, at the beach bar, Marinella Beach Club, one still feels that one might just hear the fisherman, raising a glass of limoncello up with a clinking ‘salute!’ after a long day of hauling nets into its ancient building.

a table, a moon, and the sea

Alici, for fine dining at Borgo Santandrea, is a 1 Michelin star restaurant

Holding onto both old and new is the Marinella Restaurant. A Cardinale Twist to begin, for me. Its bitter freshness is what I want in the salt air, while I browse the menu. It seems wrong to bypass fish while sitting by the setting sun over the sea. Borgo Santandrea do it as they should – tender, fresh, not overdone or too spiced up; the ingredients are as fresh as they can be, so I begin with a platter of shellfish sprinkled with Amalfi lemon zest.

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Next comes a confession. I’m afraid I have a weakness for ‘Zucchini alla Scapece’. It’s that type that has its natural sweetness balanced by the acid of its vinegar marinade and freshened by mint. It brings me back to a Neapolitan chef in Tuscany, who – unable to comprehend how one of his customers didn’t like garlic – would stamp about the kitchen, thumb to fingers shaking his hand in the air, muttering histrionically, ‘è aglio, dio mio’. But fear not, here – garlic brings out the juices of a tender, grillet fillet of fish, paired with potato.

a pool, the sea, and a floor

Each room at Borgo Santandrea is styled in a different way, looking at various shades Meditteranean styles

Not that a need a ‘pick-me-up’, or ‘Tiramisu’, following this, but it did the trick. And my swim provided a salty digestivo, and, under its soporific gauze, I fell into a deep slumber, back in the bedroom of signature artisan chic, just 50 metres above the sea.

boats on the sea

Bespoke boat trips are offered for guests across the hotel

I have no doubt that The Talented Mr Ripley will be sending lots more people Amalfi’s sun-warmed way, and I’m lucky I had got there before. Lucky, too, that – contrary to ‘telling lies… impersonating practically anybody’, Borgo Santandrea provides a rare pocket of honesty along an increasingly tourist-ridden place. It seems to pare itself back to the essence of Italy’s talent – if there is just one, that is – that laidback elegance and spirit that can’t help but leak into one, and see the utter necessity of shaking one’s fist at garlic.

Find out More:

borgosantandrea.it

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Two artists who are men standing in front of a mirror with a blue background

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palazzo
palazzo

Dating back to 1775, this building is nearby the Basilica of Santa Croce in Lecce

Authentic. immaculate, aristocratic, contemporary family-curated luxury in a Baroque palace in a city that’s a living museum? Take us to the Palazzo Bozzi Corso in Lecce, Puglia

Authenticity is becoming an ever greater part of the luxury travel experience. People want experiences when they travel, and cookie-cutter luxury simply doesn’t cut it anymore.

That’s why you get French and Italian fashion and luxury creating spectacular hotels in territories as far apart as Australia and Las Vegas. But authenticity cannot be created through replication or over the Internet; by definition it is something that comes from inside.

outside

The hotel was designed by the 18th-century architect Emanuele Manieri, this historic building attained its unique blend of traditional and contemporary features when it was developed in conjunction with the La Fiermontina Family Collection.

That, more than anything else, is what strikes you when you walk into the Palzzo Bozzi Corso. You are walking along a historic street in Lecce, in the heart of Puglia, buzzing with tourists, locals, craft shops, wine bars, local food markets.

room

Dedicated to the memory of the boxer and actor Enzo Fiermonte, La Fiermontina Palazzo Bozzi Corso offers its guests spaces with ornate furnishings and artworks

This is and was a wealthy town and the Baroque era buildings are grand and imposing. Then you walk into the Palazzo and you are whisked into the private home of a wealthy merchant of hundreds of years ago: the equivalent of walking into a Rockefeller house in a different era.

Except the Palazzo Bozzi Corso has been sylishly and impeccably updated so it feels almost like a perfectly curated exhibition, a museum of contemporary and 18th century Italian design, immaculately reimagined as an intimate luxury hotel.

Art by the likes of John Lennon (a friend of the owning family) and Fernand Leger sits among the Renaissance artefacts; no interior designer in the world could create a passion project so warm and thoughtful. This is a place to live, or at least to stay for as long as possible.

room

The building is also home to original drawings by John Lennon, donated by Yoko Ono, a friend of the owner’s mother.

There are only 10 suites here and every one is different: ours had a stone arch above the bed, church-like high ceilings, modernist furniture, a combination of ancient and contemporary art, eggshell walls, vast mirrors. Bathrooms are out of a show suite at Milan Design Week, except the work, both physically and in the destination.

Walk out of the building and you are in the living museum of Baroque that is Lecce; there is a roof terrace, and you can use the pool in the garden at the nearby sister hotel (also gorgeous), La Fiermontina. Authentic luxury doesn’t even begin to describe Palazzo Bozzi Corso.

Guests also have access to the secret garden and rooftop terrace to see the sunset

www.lafiermontinacollection.com/en/palazzo-bozzi-corso

Darius Sanai is Editor in Chief of LUX and an Editor in Chief at Condé Nast International

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F1

The sparkling wine of Ferrari Trento is being splashed around by the winners at the F1 podium

Formula 1 celebrates with sparkling wine from Italian winemaker Ferrari Trento – They have been the official partner of the competition since 2021. Fabienne Amez-Droz visits the alpine city of Trento, tastes their different wines and experiences the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix first hand.

Ferrari Trento is the “Official toast of Formula One,” celebrated globally by drivers spraying each other with sparkling wine at the end of the races. The Ferrari Trento vineyards are located in Trento, nearby the dolomites mountains in Italy, and the company is, as many would suspect, unrelated to the Ferrari racing team. Actually the Ferrari Trento family company came first – their business dates back to the early automobile era, predating Enzo Ferrari’s first race car. But the brand’s name recognition has been clearly beneficial.

villa

The family-owned Villa Margon in Trento, situated above the vineyards, is a Renaissance-era estate with 16th-century frescoes.

Founded in 1902 by Giulio Ferrari, the business was sold to Bruno Lunelli, a local wine shop owner, in 1952. Since then, the brand seeks to communicate “The italian art of living” with its costumers worldwide.

Today it is managed by the third generation of the Lunelli family with Matteo Lunelli as CEO and President of the family business. Ferrari Trento’s other executive family member is its vice-president, Camilla Lunelli, niece of Bruno. A story that does the rounds in northern Italy is that Bruno was friends with Enzo Ferrari, and Enzo once expressed interest in investing in his namesake wine company, although the Lunelli family declined, as they wanted to keep it as a family business.

The family has an estate, called Villa Margon, located above the vineyards, where you can walk around the ancient building, gardens and learn about the family’s history. The Villa is covered in-and outside with frescoes dating back to the 16th-century. A little drive further down from the estate, you can find their big, modern winery, where they produces all of their so-called Trentodoc‘s, available in six different lines – each of which expresses its own distinctive characteristics.

Trento DOC (Denominazione di origine controllata), commonly known as Trentodoc, is an appellation for white and rosé sparkling wine made in Trento in Italy. They produce the sparkling wines with a traditional method, just like Champagne. In this method, the second fermentation occurs in the bottle, creating the bubbles. Along with Franciacorta, it is a region of Italy widely considered to make world-class sparkling wines, leagues above cheap Prosecco.

After visiting the large Ferrari Trento winery in the valley, Camilla Lunelli invited me to the Michelin-starred Restaurant Locanda Margon  and explained all of the different sparkling wines, which they offer and how to pair them with a gourmet meal.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

The modern Ferrari Trento winery in the valley can store 20 million bottles, with over six million sold last year.

Read more: 6 Questions: Matteo Lunelli, CEO & President of Ferrari Trento

For this year’s Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix in Imola, I was hosted by the Lunelli- Ferrari Trento- family. This particular racing track is one of the most well-known racing venues in the history of the Italian Grand Prix’s and 2024 marks the 30 years anniversary since the deadly accident of Brazilian F1-driver Ayrton Senna (1960-1994).

For the Imola Race, the brand designed a special Ferrari Trento bottle in honour of Senna which has been signed by the winning drivers: Max Verstappen, Charles LeClerc and Lando Norris, and it will be up for auction for the Senna Foundation in Brazil.

The Ferrari Trento Team took me around the Paddock and gave me an intimate tour of the Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber– garage to show what it would be like, to be down there during a race. You could see the Netflix “Drive to survive” camera team taking shots for the show. An experience worth celebrating!

champagne

The bottle of Ferrari Trento designed in honour of Ayrton Senna for the Imola Grand Prix 2024

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art gallery
art gallery

Mucciaccia Gallery is delighted to present the exhibition Tête-à-tête in its gallery in Rome, curated by Catherine Loewe

Tête-à-Tête is an exhibition that explores the private and creative lives of contemporary artist couples.  Here LUX speaks to curator Catherine Loewe about the inspiration behind the show and the fascinating connections between the work of these modern-day duos.

The exhibition Tête-à-tête sizzles through the summer months in the heart of Rome at Mucciaccia Gallery, providing a rare glimpse into the world of creative couples where love, life and art collide. The show features eight acclaimed international contemporary couples whose multi-disciplinary work is placed in dialogue with each other.

The title from the French expression “head to head’ refers to the conversations and dynamic interplay that has such a significant impact on their practices, whether working individually or in collaboration.  In an ever-evolving cultural landscape, this exhibition examines how artists navigate the complexities of relationships while pushing the boundaries of artistic expression in the 21st century.

Follow LUX on instagram @luxthemagazine

LUX:  Where did the inspiration for the show come from?

Catherine Loewe: I’ve always been fascinated by the passionate stories of artist couples who played a key role in the development of avant-garde art.  These revolutionary couples reflected the shifting structure of both art and society, like Camille Claudel and Auguste Rodin, Josef and Anni Albers, Max Ernst and Dorothea Tanning, who rode the wave of radical thinking in the wake of Cubism, Bauhaus and Surrealism.

There was a fantastic exhibition at the Barbican that covered this topic and I wanted to bring the narrative up to date with contemporary artists.   I was also inspired by Vasari’s incredible work the Lives of the Artists which so memorably set forth the connections between artists lives and their works, in many ways providing a template for art historical documentation right up to the present day.

art gallery

The exhibition brings together eight internationally acclaimed contemporary artist couples, featuring multi- disciplinary work, including photography, textiles, sculpture, painting and digital art.

LUX:  How did you select the artist couples?

CL: I was looking to include artists working across variety of disciplines from painting, sculpture, textiles and photography to convey an overview of artistic practices today.  I was greatly supported by Maryam Eisler, whose incredible photographic portraits feature as part of the show and the accompanying catalogue.

Thanks to Maryam we included pioneering artists who have witnessed seismic social, political and cultural changes like Emilia and Ilya Kabakov, the hugely influential conceptual artists whose story began in Soviet era Russia. Also, Iranian couple Shirin Neshat and Shoja Anzari, whose powerful and poetic film and photographic work centres around issues of exile, oppression and resilience.

These artists couples have truly created a lasting legacy for future generations.  British artist Rob and Nick Carter have worked in collaboration for over 25 years, pioneering cutting-edge digital techniques and more recently exploring notions of authorship through the use of robots.

The paintings in the show based on Venus, Botticelli’s rendition reprised by Andy Warhol were executed by a six-axis robot called Heidi, switching brushes and colours using hundreds of thousands of lines of bespoke software code – something I think would have amazed both Botticelli and Warhol.

art pieces

As the title which refers to the French expression “head to head’ suggests, the exhibition offers a rare glimpse into the dynamics behind artist relationships, revealed through intimate conversations with them.

Read more: Dakis Joannou interview in Hydra

LUX:  Were there other artists you would have liked to include?

CL: It is a big theme and there are many artists we could have shown like Bharti Kher and Subodh Gupta, Elmgreen and Dragset, John Currin and Rachel Feinstein, Rashid Johnson and Sheri Hovsepian to name but a few – perhaps for an enlarged version of the show.

LUX:  Had all the artists shown together before?

CL: Charlotte and Philip Colbert had never shown together, although both fascinatingly share a subversive and surreal outlook, curiously mirroring each other with their chosen symbols, in Charlotte’s case the all-seeing eye, uterus, and breast and Philip’s the lobster, cactus and shark.

These motifs are seamlessly fused in their house which is a work of art in itself filled to the rafters with their art and designs – my favourite being a bathtub called Mother’s Milk made up of over a hundred silicone breasts.

LUX:  How has being together influenced the work of the artists?

CL: Creatively, these partnerships clearly act as a catalyst for artistic growth and exploration, the constant exchange of ideas is something one cannot achieve alone.  Whilst some couples maintain separate practices and others collaborate, the way they bounce ideas of each other creates this dynamic flow which translated into their work often produces major breakthroughs.

Of course, there are also rivalries, and I love the stormy life of Italian painters Pizzi Cannella and Rosella Fumasoni who so evocatively sums it up saying, “Talent always needs company. The beauty of having an artist close to you is the mindless mutual trust in the invisible.”

art pieces

With works displayed in dialogue with each other, the exhibition explores how the creative interplay between these couples has impacted their practices

LUX: How did you tackle the issues of gender inequality?

CL: For centuries the prevailing concept of the male genius meant that women’s careers were eclipsed by their ‘famous’ partners, whilst they were locked in the roles of mistress, muse or mother.  Such was the case with Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner or the often toxic relationship between Pablo Picasso and Francoise Gilot – both women are only now receiving long overdue recognition.

Today these issues are certainly being vigorously addressed but still not fully resolved, for instance Sue Arrowsmith struggled to gain exposure in contrast to the meteoric career of Ian Davenport, who was one of the YBA’s in Damien Hirst’s circle.

What did however become apparent whilst doing this show is the huge amount of love, support and resilience these couples have in the face of many challenges both creative and personal.

The interviews reveal how much of a juggling act being an artist couple can be, particularly with the demands of a hectic international exhibition schedule and a young family – more like the collision of love, art and life!

art pieces

The exhibition in Rom opens its doors from the 10th May until the 2nd August 2024

LUX: What did you most enjoy about this show?

CL: It is beautiful to see the synergies between the works of these artists – like the striking geometric sculptures of Conrad Shawcross juxtaposed with the tactile, abstract hand stitched pieces by Carolina Mazzolari – a visual yin and yang both in their respective ways profoundly philosophical.

art gallery visitors

The guest enjoyed the Tête-à-tête exhibition at the Mucciaccia Gallery

Or the singing colours of Annie Morris stacked spheres in conversation with the hovering hues of Idris Khan which are so full of emotional and spiritual yearning, charting their experiences of love, loss, and catharsis.  Sue Arrowsmith and Ian Davenport have created paintings especially for the show that explore the interplay of colour, form and space take inspiration from the work of Fra Angelico fusing Sue’s use of shimmering gold leaf and Ian’s interest in the palette of Old Masters.

I also really enjoyed spending time with the artists in their homes and studios, doing photo-shoots and interviews, which I tried to keep quite light-hearted, but which turned out to be surprisingly revealing.

Tête-à-tête runs until 2 August 2024, at the Mucciaccia Gallery, Rome

mucciaccia.com

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identical men in blue suits in a row with their arm our to shake a hand
A man sitting cross legged with a skull in his lap wearing a suit

Maurizio Cattelan
self-portrait created by the artist and Pierpaolo Ferrari for LUX

Maurizio Cattelan
, Italy’s most celebrated living artist, tells Darius Sanai about surrealism, failing at school, and why art can never be a commentary on society. Pencil Portrait by Jonathan Newhouse. Photographic portraits of Maurizio Catellan created for LUX by the artist

Italy’s greatest living artist – and one of Europe’s most celebrated artists of this century – is also something of a philosopher, if you read some of his sharp-tongued musings over the years; or, indeed, if you look at his art. Among Maurizio Cattelan
’s most celebrated creations are a solid-gold toilet and a very famous banana taped to a wall in an art fair (which was subsequently eaten by an art student).

Some of his work echoes Voltaire, with its artful, humorous but piercing satirisation of elements of our times – until you examine more closely and wonder what, exactly, is the target of his satire. His biannual magazine, Toiletpaper, which features beautiful, disturbing, engrossing images created with his collaborator, the photographer Pierpaolo Ferrari, could be seen as surreal, satirical or something else entirely.

Speaking with Cattelan is how I imagine it would be like to be toyed with by a mischievous octopus. You think you have an idea of an answer, and then another leg curls round your head from behind and tweaks your ear. The son of a truck driver and a cleaner, with no formal training in art, Cattelan did not shine at school: a million parents around the world would have been forgiven for assuming this son of Padua, northern Italy, was destined not to do anything with his life.

A drawing of a man

Illustration of Maurizio Cattelan
by Jonathan Newhouse, 2023

And yet his blue-collar parents produced one of the most sophisticated, thoughtful and intelligent artists I have met; and also one of the hardest to pigeonhole. He is not, by his own admission, a painter. Is he a sculptor? An installation artist? A surrealist? What kind of art is a banana taped to the wall, or any of the works he has created on these pages (and on our cover) for LUX? Is he really what his art suggests he is, a mix of Marcel Duchamp, Monty Python and Andy Warhol?

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

After some brain-scrambling and highly entertaining and engaging exchanges, I think I have the answer. But why don’t you read our interview below and come to your own conclusions. Like mine, they will probably be wrong, for Cattelan is a playful yet deadly serious chimera who, as his elementary-school teachers probably said, can never quite be pinned down.

Darius Sanai: Your parents were not in the art world. That must have made it difficult for you to enter the art scene. Did you meet any resistance?
Maurizio Cattelan
:
Resistance is not the right word to describe it. The difference between people lies only in their having greater or lesser access to economic possibilities and knowledge, and in being successful in accessing these two elements when the starting conditions do not allow it. All the choices that I have made are aimed at seeking that access. I am a devotee of free will much more than of destiny: in this sense, the Catholic religion has had no influence on me, while the Lutheran heresy is much more in my comfort zone. I am convinced that destiny is nothing but the sum of our choices. Regarding what my parents would have thought of me being an artist, I was lucky enough not to discover it.

DS: What did you want to do when you were at school?
MC: My childhood was not an easy one, but it was not special at all – I share this burden with many people before and after me, who suffered from the same condition. The first memory I have from school was a suspension in first grade. It was an agitated, very proletarian class. I don’t remember why but the teacher wrote in the notebook that I shouldn’t show up the next day. My parents were meant to sign the note from the teacher, but I spent a whole day imitating my parents’ signatures so as not to face their judgment and punishment. They never found out. Also, the report card never arrived at my parents’, because I kept forging their signatures.

A man's head looking worried surrounded by his head in green and yellow around him

Maurizio Cattelan
self-portrait created by the artist and Pierpaolo Ferrari for LUX

DS: You had no formal art training. Does this mean that a great artist needs no training?
MC: Not at all, but it was true for me–art training would have made me give up. The most distressing gift I ever received was a painter’s kit: it had everything I needed to paint, and I had no idea how to use it. It was a year at home that reminded me how inadequate I was as a painter, or at working with my hands in general. It was really frustrating: they were tools that I wanted to try but at the same time I knew I wasn’t able to master them.

DS: You are a satirist, a disruptor. Why?
MC: Please, you tell me, because I feel like the most boring person I know!

DS: Is your art a commentary on society?
MC: Not at all. I’ve always believed that if something can be reduced to one clear concept, it is as sure as hell artistically dead. Art has no direct and unique intent, otherwise it is a problem that has already been resolved, and there’s nothing interesting in this. So, you’ll never hear me affirming a show has one single objective – otherwise, it would be simple advertising. Art is good for you as long as you make whatever you want out of it.

DS: Is one of your aims to create discomfort in those viewing your art? If so, why?
MC: I promise you I have no such nasty aim. I do what I do to deal with my problems, if they create discomfort it is not something planned deliberately. I simply can’t help it.

identical men in blue suits in a row with their arm our to shake a hand

Maurizio Cattelan
self-portrait created by the artist and Pierpaolo Ferrari for LUX

DS: Who are your forebears? Duchamp? Picasso?
MC: The maximum I can say is that I sometimes dream about finding a bear in my closet. I’m not sure if it is its dimensions or its teeth, but it is quite scary. Imagine if I also had fore-bears!

DS: What effect would you like your art to have on the world?
MC: I would not ask this question in these terms: a flower blooms because its time came, not because there is a reason or effect it can forsee. Similarly, it happens with art, design and all forms of innovation: they happen when the time tis right, it is as simple as this.

DS: Does it trouble you that only the wealthy can buy art that is considered “great” now? What is the relationship between art and its price?
MC: Artworks, art institutions and the art market are linked together, as they form an indissoluble chain that allows the machine to work. Experience teaches us that light cannot exist without darkness and that an ecosystem cannot be balanced if a prey doesn’t have its predator: this is also the case in the art world.

DS: Does it not trouble you that many great works, including yours, are locked in private collections? What can be done to change this (except a revolution)?
MC: It would trouble me if the collectors has no interest in showing them, but since it is in their own interest to show them around as it would increase their value, I don’t see a big issue there. Wise collectors assemble collections that are not purely speculative, and they can be the best companion for an artist. They can help a lot in developing and giving birth to what you have in mind: the fact that you can dream about something because a collector is supporting you opens an entire world of possibilities.

A banana taped to the wall

Comedian, 2019, by Maurizio Cattelan

DS: Is revolution a good idea?
MC: It is always a good idea when it’s performed, and not spoken.

DS: Can you describe how you create a work, from inspiration to completion?
MC: My favourite part is the ideation, then I prefer to let others take care of the practicalities, as realisation is a sea I can’t navigate. My contribution is the initial one: the conception of a work is the most interesting part for me, everything is new and exciting. The more you get into the practical phase, the more impatient I become to start with another one: I don’t like the things I already know.

DS: You have said all decoration is disturbing; and yet you have Toiletpaper Home, a homewares line. Should home decoration be disturbing also?
MC: Did I say so? Maybe I was referring to my place; that is totally empty. But I love to think that Toiletpaper images could be applied to home decoration – it has always been a project that knows no limit.

DS: Are you a surrealist? A sensationalist? Absurdist? Or any other kind of “ist”?
MC: I am a 1-ist of contradiction.

A man hanging from a green bathroom

You, 2021, by Maurizio Cattelan
at Massimo de Carlo, Milan, 2022

DS: Is there a morality, a commentary on the human condition or society in your works?
MC: I believe I already answered this, but just to be clear: art should not have a straightforward , unique clear message, otherwise it is advertising.

DS: You have said that if you have been able to amke good art, it’s because of your flaws. What are those?
MC: Le me answer as if I was in a job interview: I’m a perfectionist.

DS: What are your best works of art?
MC: Only time will tell.

DS: Should the banana have been eaten?
MC: Only if next time the peel and tape are also eaten.

The Guggenheim building with items hanging from the ceiling to the floor

Installation view of ALL, 2011, by Maurizio Cattelan
, at Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York, 2011

DS: What role do you think shock value plays in contemporary art?
MC: I wish for every artist’s work to be incendiary, and to never satisfy expectations. In the latter case, it is a style exercise and a waste of time, both for the artist and for the audience.

DS: Your recent collaboration with Gucci explores appropriation and originality. How important is it to be original in the art world today?
MC: Culture has been rewritten many times from many different points of view. If we look at history, copying has been the method of disseminating knowledge as much as in the contemporary world: scribes copied books to ensure future generations had the same knowledge and to preserve their culture over the centuries. A few years earlier, the Romans copied Greek sculptures, as today we copy the great classics and see them in souvenir shops. Copying is a concept as old as humanity, because it is the presupposition of knowledge tout court.

Read more: An Interview with William Kentridge

DS: What about Longchamp, what are you doing there?
MC: It’s a collaboration, a capsule that witnesses the marriage between Longchamp and Toiletpaper. I am looking forward to discovering what the result will be.

DS: Are you a Voltaire of the art world?
MC: You tell me, as I’m not sure of who I am in general, never mind in the art world!

three men standing together

Darius Sanai with Maurizio Cattelan
and Pierpaolo Ferrari

DS: Which artists, living or dead, do you admire most?
MC: All those who did what they did under a sense of urgency.

DS: What or who is overrated in the art world?
MC: All those who did what they did NOT under a sense of urgency.

DS: Will you create digital art?
MC: I’d rather not, I’m far too old for that.

The Longchamp x Toiletpaper Le Pliage collection is at Longchamp stores and lonchamp.com. A limited-edition issue of Toiletpaper features the collaboration.

toiletpapermagazine.org

Photographer: Pierpaolo Ferrari
Art Director: Antonio Colomboni
Set Designer: Michela Natella
Set Builder: Lorenzo Dispensa
Hair and Makeup: Lorenzo Zavatta
Stylist: Elisa Zaccanti

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2023/24 issue of LUX

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Reading time: 10 min
a man with a pencil between his lips and a hat on his head
a man with a pencil between his lips and a hat on his head

The late Armando Testa founded Studio Armando Testa, one Italy’s largest agencies, in 1956.

Armando Testa is the greatest 20th-century design figure you’ve never heard of. Armando’s creations, straddling design and art, were groundbreaking and epoch-defining, but suffering from snobbery on the part of the high-art world towards what was and still is considered the lowlier and more commercial discipline of design. A new show at the Venice Biennale, conceived by Gemma Testa, Founder of Acacia Foundation, and curated by London’s Design Museum Director Tim Marlow, seeks to redress the balance. Here, Testa and Marlow discuss Armando’s legacy in a conversation moderated by LUX and edited by Isabella Fergusson

LUX: Gemma, why did you collaborate with Tim Marlow in curating the Armando Testa retrospective at the Venice Biennale this year?

Gemma Testa: I wanted to enable the work of Armando to become internationally known. Tim seemed an excellent choice, with his deep knowledge of both contemporary art and design.

a chair made of meat

Meat Chair, by Armando Testa, 1978.

LUX: Tim, what made you interested in the project?

Tim Marlow: This is one of the most important Italian artists in post-war and visual culture whom I didn’t know enough about, and many others like me don’t. The chance to explore and shed light on someone who beautifully straddles the worlds of graphic design and art, advertising and popular culture and supposed fine art was a wonderful opportunity.

Tyres with an elephant trunk; artworks

Advertisement for Pirelli tyres, Armando Testa, 1954

LUX: Could you tell us about Testa’s significance?

TM: Armando was utterly radical from the beginning. He trained, learned painting, visual arts, art history, graphic design and advertising. He was a pop artist before Pop Art had even been invented. He understood the distilled language of Minimalism – look at his work in the 1940s and 50s before Minimalism existed. But he also understood that visual culture was a means of communication. There is this extraordinary creative trajectory that straddles very different worlds. His favourite word is ‘synthesis’.

GT: The main difficulty for Armando, for many years, was the lack of a proper gallery to represent him. Advertising is seen simply as commerce. Galleria Continua asked me to present Armando. This is a great opportunity to let his work gain recognition – he always believed in the great connection between art and advertising. While working on campaigns, he asked me many times, “What do you think about this?” I’d answer, “What is the aim? What are you working for? Who is the client?” and he’d answer, “You have to look at the sign; you have to look at the mark, at the drawing itself.” He has always understood and believed that there is a link between these two disciplines – advertising and art.

chilli on a plinth in a gallery

Tango Caliente, by Armando Testa

LUX: What are your purposes for the Venice exhibition?

TM: It’s the need and opportunity to present Armando’s works to a new audience, art scene and culture. The natural place for Testa – as a designer and as an artist – might be the Architecture Biennale, which is porous, looking at all sorts of disciplines. But it is decisive and important that it opens during the Art Biennale. Though the art world talks of porosity, it can be very territorial, and it can be a little defensive about people who come from disciplines other than the art world itself. Armando genuinely had a symbiotic relationship between the two. Even artists like Michelangelo Pistoletto – who studied at Armando’s design school – felt the importance of Armando as an artist and, as he put it, a “genius ad man”.

pictures in a gallery

“Punt e Mes”, by Armando Testa, 1974

LUX: Gemma, how do you respond to that?

GT: Yes, some friends of mind suggested that I present Armando to the Architecture Biennale, but I felt that this could have limited his position. And there is a generation who know none of his works as an artist: this is who the exhibition is for.

TM: The great ‘Punt e Mes’ campaign is a very condensed example of why Testa is so brilliant – his sphere, half-sphere piece. It is a pun on the name ‘Punt e Mes’ [‘Point and a Half’]. It is a visual pun on a sphere and a half-sphere. He paints it. He makes a sculpture of it as well as a poster of it. He interrogates it in every way and makes it universal. An advertising campaign for Vermouth, using an Italian dialect, ought only to resonate with a specifically Italian audience, but it doesn’t. That is what we want to show.

LUX: How would Armando wish to be remembered following the Biennale? As an artist, a designer, or something else?

GT: Perhaps he would want to be remembered more as a creative, a multidisciplinary artist than an advertiser or a designer; the exhibition represents all the shades of his creative universe.

Exhibition Armando Testa is at the Galleria Internazionale d’Arte Moderna Ca’ Pesaro, Venice, 20 April-15 September 2024

capesaro.visitmuve.it

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Bar with lots of drinks and lights and chairs and mirror
We check in to the Principe di Savoia, a palace hotel offering grandeur and glamour for anyone visiting Italy’s fashion capital, Milan
outside of a hotel with green plants and blue sky and balcony

Le Principe di Savoia is a grand palace building in central Milan

The trend among contemporary hotels to integrate the bar (and sometimes a dance floor) into the main reception lobby area was started by the original boutique hotelier Ian Schrager back in the 1980s. It accelerated with the development and corporatisation of hotels like the W hotel group, in the ’90s and 2000s, and now whether you are in the Alps or LA, you are likely to be greeted by a receptionist standing next to a bartender.

And while this works for a certain category of oriented hotel, where the vibe is more important than the room and everyone is invited, a good hotel bar needs its own space and should be a unique and compelling concept, not a funky alcoholic addendum to a reception desk.

red and yellow sofas under wood ceiling in lavish, carpeted room

The presidential suite encapsulates the classic grandeur of this Dorchester Collection property

Nowhere makes this more clear than the Principe di Savoia in Milan. We arrived after a delayed flight and a traffic-filled entrance into Italy’s biggest city. It was too late to go for dinner, but we did crave a little atmosphere, rather than just room service. A quick change in the room, and then we went into the Principe Bar, a grand room located in pride of place at the centre of the ground floor at this Milanese palace.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

A luscious sweep of a room, with perfectly dimmed lighting, the whole place is focused on the showpiece bar counter. We were immediately swept into another world, a universe where everyone is glamorous, drinking a Bellini makes you Sophie Loren. Not that you should really drink a Bellini, with a list of decorative gastronomic cocktails at your disposal: a particular favourite was an Indian Summer 22, with Chrysanthemum gin, Monin Paragon White Penja Pepper cordial, homemade cordial, Teapot Bitter, and a garnish of flower powder.

Bar with lots of drinks and lights and chairs and mirror

Le Principe Bar is a place in which to get lost with friends and disappear into a world of gastronomic, cocktail-inspired glamour

The Savoia is a proper palace, an imposing building right on the edge of the old city centre of Milan. Arriving there, whether it is the cocktail hour or not, is dramatic as you sweep up a flower lined driveway and are whisked into the hotel by a phalanx of door people. And across the big square in front of the hotel is the city’s finest park.

Read more: Hotel Crans Ambassador, Crans-Montana, Switzerland Review

Our suite had rich art deco panelling, high ceilings, dark floral drapes, a marble-clad bathroom and a sense of utter still in the heart of a great city. Walking down into the lobby from your suite, you feel you need to be imperious, as if this hotel expects a certain standard of style – although the attentive and delightful staff (this is a Dorchester Collection hotel) certainly wouldn’t bat an eyelid if you came down in a onesie.

But if you’re that kind of person, maybe you won’t appreciate the classic chic of this true Grande Dame.

Find out more: dorchestercollection

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A white horse wearing a black cape with white flowers on it
A white horse wearing a black cape with white flowers on it

From the Durazzi Milano AW23 presentation

In the eighth part of our Italy art focus series, curated by Umberta Beretta, LUX speaks to Ilenia Durazzi who worked for major fashion brands including Margiela before establishing her luxury womenswear brand, Durazzi Milano, in Milan, championed by artist Maurizio Cattelan

LUX: What is your design philosophy?
Ilenia Durazzi: I design clothes with an architectural approach to the study of physical volumes in tailoring. I love minimal models with essential lines, made special by a detail, an accessory, in which I concentrate the most unconventional part of my creativity.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: What cultural figures influence your work?
ID: My latest collection is dedicated to inspirational women from artists to scientists. For aesthetic inspiration, I would cite 1930s architecture, Meret Oppenheimer, Laurie Spiegel’s music. The common factor is non-conformism.

A woman with brown hair wearing a black turtleneck top

Ilenia Durazzi

LUX: Has Parisian style influenced your work?
ID: Paris is where I was trained and taught to express myself. It gave me the chance to create unique experiences in maisons that have written the story of fashion. But I was born in Urbino, a city of Medieval and Renaissance buildings. And when you are born in a region like this, it shapes how you see things. I believe our DNA recognises its roots, but changes with the world it inhabits.

LUX: How do the masculine and feminine interact in your brand?
ID: The essentiality of my creations derives from my experience of creating menswear and my fascination for men’s uniforms. Another point is the attention to function and detail, materials and craftsmanship in menswear. In women’s fashion these elements stay in the background. In my collections, they play a key role.

A woman wearing a tweed pink an red cot with red boots and holding a white bag

From the AW23 collection, by Durazzi Milano

LUX: Has Maurizio Cattelan
’s style influenced Durazzi Milano?
ID: Maurizio’s faith in my talents and support for the company have been fundamental. I couldn’t say Maurizio’s poetic approach has influenced its style, but his way of seeing reality is a source of inspiration. From artists we learn to look further.

Read more: Italy Art Focus: Edoardo Monti

LUX: Has your vision influenced Maurizio’s work?
ID: Maurizio and I are at each other’s perimeter, we have shared experiences and supported each other in our creative journeys. It would be naive to assume that this hadn’t had an impact.

A black cape for a horses back

From the AW23 presentation by Durazzi Milano

LUX: What changes will we see in Italian art and fashion in the next few years?
ID: I imagine a future that is fluid and democratic and so will be art and fashion. They already are. We have to be able to handle evolving situations, social, political and environmental. To go forward, the world has to go back, to produce less but better. It is the core of Durazzi Milano’s identity.

durazzimilano.com

This article comes from a section of a wider feature originally published in the Autumn/Winter 2023/24 issue of LUX

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A man wearing a green, yellow and purple colourful top putting on red sunglasses
A man wearing a green, yellow and purple colourful top putting on red sunglasses

Edoardo Monti

In the seventh part of our Italy art focus series, curated by Umberta Beretta, LUX speaks to Edoardo Monti, who at 26 established an artist residency at his family’s 13th-century Brescia palazzo. Since 2017, it has already hosted more than 200 artists from 50 countries

LUX: Palazzo Monti is very significant architecturally. Does it influence your artists?
Edoardo Monti: The palazzo has a powerful effect. It is calming, it has stunning light and there is lots of space, so you can focus on your art in private during the day, but there is always someone in the communal spaces to chat with. The city, too, leaves an imprint. Bergamo and Brescia are Italian Capital of Culture 2023, and there are many cultural activities and museums that help with research and production. Lastly, there are the artists: they create a beautiful bond that carries on after they leave Italy.

A table and chairs in a room with art leaning on the walls

Pescatarians in the Hands of an Angry God, 2017, by Chloe Wise; Edo a Tavola, 2019, by Maria Fragola, and Late Breakfast, 2019, by Kyle Vu-Dunn, at Palazzo Monti

LUX: How do you choose the artists?
EM: We receive more than 700 monthly requests. We don’t care whether artists studied or are self taught, where they live or their age. We just look for art we have never seen before.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: What is your favourite Palazzo artwork?
EM: I can’t get enough of Interior III by Christina Kimeze. It shows the artist and my dog, Beatrice.

A painting of a green monster on top of a wooden table

View of Nobody Like You/ Nobody’s Going to F*ck Me Like Me, 2019, by Sophie Spedding at Palazzo Monti

LUX: You worked for 10 years at Stella McCartney. Why did you change direction?
EM: I left Italy at 18, so it felt natural to move back when I was 26 and live as an adult in the country I love. Then there was the palazzo, where I had never lived, but which I thought had so much potential, and wanted to help express. Lastly, I had started collecting art at 14 – mainly figurative art, which is still a main focus – and I wanted to dedicate myself to my passion, working with artists from around the world.

LUX: What were the challenges?
EM: I missed NYC for a while, but Italy is pretty awesome, too. The challenge was to become known in the art world, which we did through social media and our alumni, as each becomes an ambassador back in their own city.

A white marble staircase in a hallway with painted walls and large wooden doors

A view of the Palazzo Monti with hints of its art residencies

LUX: Do you choose the artists to fit together?
EM: We don’t strategise. We host three artists at a time, and have been lucky to have groups that bonded. We have a large communal kitchen and dining area, where we often enjoy dinners together. We can’t guarantee positive experiences, nor wish to impose a social life. We respect that some artists come to enjoy living in a centuries-old palazzo and to work in our large studios.

Read more: Italy Art Focus: Arturo Galansino

LUX: What are your aspirations now for Palazzo Monti?
EM: We want to work more with curators so our artists have even more support. We are also opening our exhibition spaces to other projects, as we become more of a cultural centre with a residency, exhibitions and a private museum.

Find out more: palazzomonti.org

This article comes from a section of a wider feature originally published in the Autumn/Winter 2023/24 issue of LUX

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A building exterior with a picture on it showing the inside of the building in grey as if the wall has been bashed through
A building exterior with a picture on it showing the inside of the building in grey as if the wall has been bashed through

La Ferita (The Wound), 2021, by JR at Palazzo Strozzi

In the sixth part of our Italy art focus series, curated by Umberta Beretta, LUX speaks to Arturo Galansino, director of the public-private Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi, which opened an art space in Florence in 2006, and maintains a bold programme of exhibitions from Old Masters to contemporary art, creating a dynamic dialogue

LUX: Did you ever think you would make such an impact in Florence?
Arturo Galansino: It is beyond our expectations. I have been here for eight years and Palazzo Strozzi is the most successful exhibition space in Italy with the shift in 2016 to introduce contemporary art, bring important artists to create work here and create a public to see it. We are happy to have helped change the identity of this city, which is no longer a city of the past, but a protagonist of the present.

Two men standing in front of a painting of the Mona Lisa in blue

Arturo Galansino with artist Yan Pei-Ming

LUX: Would Florence locals Michelangelo and Leonardo approve of Koons and Abramović?
AG: I hope they would be happy to see Florence generating a contemporary art discussion from their legacy. And I believe Bernini would love what Jeff Koons is doing.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: How was it working with Jeff Koons?
AG: He comes to all the exhibitions, especially the Old Masters – we spent a lot of time at our Donatello, which was the exhibition of 2022 worldwide. Jeff loves so much what he sees, he wants to understand how it works. He told me he’s using a new idea inspired by how Donatello used bronze so economically – leaving the hidden parts without bronze. These discoveries are so exciting for artists who work with matter, and for me it was an unbelievable experience.

A room with wooden floors and benches and a metal snake hanging on the wall

The Snake Bag, 2008, by
Ai Weiwei at “Ai Weiwei Libero” at Palazzo Strozzi, 2017

LUX: Are you bringing a new crowd to Florence?
AG: In Florence, we have mass tourism. Tourists race to the Uffizi and maybe the Accademia, visit Botticelli and David and don’t even sleep here. We have fewer visitors than the Uffizi, but they come for longer and often return. They explore Florence – a special perfume shop, a little church they don’t know. So we create a tourism that doesn’t occupy only two spots. It also helps to make a more sustainable economy.

A man wearing a suit and blue tie standing in front of a bust of a horse

Arturo Galansino

LUX: Can you speak about “Let’s Get Digital!”.
AG: We saw the digital phenomenon in 2020, and wanted to be the first institution to make a significant show with it. We had such a success. Every day we had thousands of people mesmerised by images from the six most successful digital artists of this moment. And we could explain this new art, too.

Read more: Italy Art Focus: Beatrice Trussardi

When we opened, in 2022, there was the collapse of cryptocurrency, which was so associated with NFTs, so it was a critical moment and were part of it.

A red painting of a man boxing

Bruce Lee, 2007, by Yan Pei-Ming, from “Painting Histories” at Palazzo Strozzi, 2023

LUX: Finally, do Italians still think this is a country of history, not contemporary art?
AG: Artistic history is part of our identity and I am very proud of it. What we should do is try to reinterpret its value towards new directions. We have to conserve, but also be progressive and open. I think if we find a balance, Italy could be the country of the future, because we have everything the world is looking for.

Find out more: palazzostrozzi.org

This article comes from a section of a wider feature originally published in the Autumn/Winter 2023/24 issue of LUX

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A sunny, snowy mountain top on the Alps with a Hotel view.
A sunny, snowy mountain top on the Alps with a Hotel view.

The hotel has dramatic views all around of one of the world’s most spectacular winter sports areas, the Dolomites in northeastern Italy

Our recommendation this ski season is for a place that blends the best of the Alps: Italian and Austrian culture and gastronomy, matchless views, astonishing skiing, and an ambience all of its own

How do you like your wintersports holiday? There’s the social whirl of St Moritz, Gstaad and Courchevel, the competitivity of Verbier and Val d’Isere…and then there are the Dolomites in Italy. Here, the vibe is so different you could be on another continent. It starts with the mountains themselves, sheer caramel coloured walls and stacks of rock, rising vertically above the curiously open and gentle slopes below.

A grey and white bedroom in a wooden chalet style room

The elegantly designed Superior Room

Then there is the culture, a blend of Austrian and Italian, but not really either – suffusing into the villages, food and people. The Dolomites are also home to the Superski area, a circuit of 1200 km of some of the most spectacular runs in the world, formed so you never have to ski the same slope twice as you tour the whole region.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Our recommended base for exploring the area this winter is the effortlessly chic Gardena Grödnerhof, in Ortisei, at the heart of the area. (The German-Italian place names all point to the region’s mixed heritage.)

A chalet style hotel in the mountains covered in trees

The hotel is also an ideal summer destination for golfers, hikers and mountain bike enthusiasts

The family-run Grödnerhof may not be a palace like some of the most celebrated hotels in the Alps, but it’s every bit as stylish, and rather more understated, as any of its peers. Its design owes as much to Milan as it does to traditional Alpine themes; you are whisked into an effortless world of contemporary Italianate hospitality, but with a view to die for. There are two restaurants, the Gardena, in light Alpine style with Mediterranean dishes, and the Michelin-starred Anna Stuben, with a wine list to match the world’s best – and most eclectic.

Rooms are spacious and elegant and have sweeping views over the matchless Dolomites with light wood panels and cool grey tones; a blend of Austrian cosiness and Italian Bella Figura.

A wooden restaurant with white tablecloths

Anna Stuben’s Gourmet Restaurant, known as one of the best in South Tyrol, lies within the hotel

And then dash to the cable car around the corner as you are in the middle of one of the world’s most spectacular and distinctive ski areas. If you have not skied the Dolomites before, we recommend deliberately not looking out of the window of the lift as you go up and then taking a proper look at the top as the sheer scale and breadth of the view is like nowhere else. You may feel as if you are on a different planet. It’s one of the sunniest ski areas in Europe and also has among the best snowmaking facilities, so you can embark on your circuit which links to the ski areas of numerous nearby villages amid the likelihood both of fine Italian weather and crisp Alpine snow.

Read more: Hotel Crans Ambassador, Crans-Montana, Switzerland Review

A couple of perks the hotel offers are private ski tours at sunrise, with a guide, before all those other people get to the slopes, or just before sundown, when others have left (we recommend the latter, particularly after experiencing the hotel’s wine cellar the night before). And then you may have time to swim, luxuriate in the outdoor thermal baths, and admire the starlight, before dinner awaits.

Find out more: www.gardena.it

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A blonde woman wearing a white shirt and white trousers standing next to a table with a blue vase and a red ornament
A blonde woman wearing a white shirt and white trousers standing next to a table with a blue vase and a red ornament

Beatrice Trussardi, President of the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi and founder of the Fondazione Beatrice Trussardi

In the fifth part of our Italy art focus series, curated by Umberta Beretta, LUX speaks to Beatrice Trussardi who as President of the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi and more recently founder of the Fondazione Beatrice Trussardi, produces public encounters with art in unexpected places

LUX: Was art always a passion?
Beatrice Trussardi: My family had creative friends such as artists and directors, so I grew up in that environment. But it was when I went to New York for university, then worked in the Met, the Guggenheim and MoMA, that I found my path. I went back to Milan to the fashion business, and started my new mission at the family foundation in 1999.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: After New York, did Italy seem a little stuck in the past to you?
BT: In Italy we have so much artistic heritage, but there were only a few contemporary foundations in Milan: my family’s, Prada’s, a few others. After returning from New York, I wanted to bring contemporary art to the public. In 2003, Massimiliano Gioni and I had the idea of making the foundation nomadic, to connect historical buildings and open spaces with contemporary art, bringing art to Milan and making it available to everybody. We took that idea international with my own foundation in 2021.

A theatre with a projection of a face of a boy on the stage curtain

Ludwig, 2018, by Diego Marcon, from “Dramoletti” at Teatro Gerolamo, a puppet theatre in Milan, 2023

LUX: And you wanted to support artists as well as the public?
BT: We always say we make the hidden dreams of artists possible by producing and exhibiting site-specific art projects and exploring powerful subjects, such as migration and human rights. We have worked with many artists including Jeremy Deller, Ibrahim Mahama and Paola Pivi.

Two cars crashed into a mosaic ground with people standing around it

From “Short Cut”, by Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset, Ottagono at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan, 2003

LUX: And it becomes ephemeral?
BT: That is what interests us. We don’t collect the pieces, the artists are free to take them anywhere, to lend the pieces or to sell them. Everything stays in the memory.

A woman wearing a red outfit standing next to an artwork of a woman

Beatrice Trussardi with work by Dorothy Iannone, Suck My Breasts, I Am Your Beautiful Mother, 1970/71

LUX: Does this make a unique experience?
BT: From the first exhibition 20 years ago, we wanted people to say, “What is that?” about the art and the location, because when we choose a location, it’s been abandoned or used for other purposes, so when someone finds an artwork there it is unexpected. It promotes discussion, an educational aspect that is part of our mission.

A man working on a grand piano in an old fashioned room

Stop, Repair, Prepare: Variations on Ode to Joy for a Prepared Piano, No 1, 2008, by Jennifer Allora from “Fault Lines” by Allora & Calzadilla at the Palazzo Cusani, Milan, 2013

LUX: What are your favourite moments?
BT: It is always exciting because it is agile and about catching a particular historical moment. Every time it is different, special, extraordinary.

Read more: Italy Art Focus: Giovanna Forlanelli Rovati

Between lockdowns in 2020, we did a very interesting project, The Sky in a Room, with Ragnar Kjartansson in the Chiesa Lazzaretto, a 16th-century church in Milan, which was built without walls to allow the sick to attend during the plague. The church is in the middle of a field, and only 15 people could be inside at a time, to watch and listen. That was an historical moment, and very, very touching.

Find out more: acaciaweb.it

This article comes from a section of a wider feature originally published in the Autumn/Winter 2023/24 issue of LUX

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Woman with white hair and glasses crossing her arms and smiling

Giovanna Forlanelli Rovati in the Sala Ontani. Photo by Giovanni de Sandre via Fondazione Luigi Rovati

LUX speaks to Giovanna Forlanelli Rovati At the Fondazione Luigi Rovati in Milan, where she is putting experimental dialogues between ancient and contemporary art, and artistic and scientific enquiry at the heart of an original project

LUX: You trained in medicine and science and worked in pharmaceuticals. Does that give you a different way of perceiving art?
Giovanna Forlanelli Rovati: Culture and art are unpredictable, and so are research and scientific discovery – both form the basis of Humanism. Openness and curiosity have always marked my experiences and my scientific training leads me to experiment with new artistic languages. The idea of connecting art and science led to establishing the Fondazione Luigi Rovati.

Purple room filled with art

Old meets new in the fondazione’s Sala Ontani

LUX: Have you always been fascinated by Etruscan art and craft?
GFR: I became interested in contemporary art in the 1990s in New York, while my husband Lucio is passionate about classical art, in particular Etruscan. Through our passions, we realised that there is an extraordinary dialogue between the ancient and contemporary. The project we share is focused on this.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: Are there links between modern and contemporary art and ancient art?
GFR: Certainly, yes, there is a link between them. The aim of the fondazione is to represent and explain these links, but it is also the opposite: reading archaeology in the contemporary world opens it up to new visions.

Grand hall with white walls

The hall of the palazzo housing the fondazione

LUX: Your foundation combines a top-floor Michelin-starred restaurant, ground-floor bistro and garden, viewing rooms and a contemporary architectural creation underground. Why is that?
GFR: Establishing the fondazione was a constantly evolving process. “Wonder” is the word most used by our visitors, the same word used to define the great Renaissance artworks. Visiting a museum means experiencing moments of pleasure and wellbeing in the very beauty of the museum. First, the immersion in the art, but also being in the garden, shop, bistro or restaurant.

Dark room with artwork

“Living in an Etruscan City” on the hypogeum floor

LUX: Do ordinary people have little chance to view great art, now so much of it is owned by private collectors?
GFR: Yes, there are many collectors don’t show their works, but many others open private museums. In our case, the fondazione acquired Italian art collections from abroad and from private Italian collections specifically to display them in our museum. Our vision is to implement a project of inclusion and social utility.

Stone stature in the middle of the room

An installation view in the Sala Paolini

Read more: Italy Art Focus: Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo

LUX: What are your ambitions for the fondazione?
GFR: To become a global point of reference and to export our model worldwide, discovering or rediscovering artists and languages, and developing relationships with private and public institutions in Italy.

Find out more: fondazioneluigirovati.org

This article comes from a section of a wider feature originally published in the Autumn/Winter 2023/24 issue of LUX

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A woman wearing a balck top and large diamond necklace standing net to a wall with frames and black boxes in the frames
A woman wearing a balck top and large diamond necklace standing net to a wall with frames and black boxes in the frames

Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo

In the first part of our Italy art focus series, curated by Umberta Beretta, LUX speaks to Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo who founded her fondazione in Turin in 1995. Today, the extraordinary initiatives of Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo include transforming an abandoned Venetian island into a beacon for art and ecology

LUX: What was the first artwork you bought?
Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo: Anish Kapoor’s Blood Stone. It was on a trip to London in 1992 that changed my life.

LUX: What drives you to support art education?
PSRR: When we started in the 1990s, contemporary art received little attention in Italy. Education defines the fondazione’s identity and builds awareness of contemporary art in Italy. We offer a rich programme for schools, families and vulnerable people, and we train teachers. Our Young Curators Residency Programme sees three international graduate curators curate a joint exhibition from the work of artists they meet in Italy during a three-month stay. This develops curatorship and places Italian art in a global context. Campo is a similar course we have for Italian graduates.

books in glass boxes in a library

A view of the Lucas Arruda exhibition at the Ateneo de Madrid

LUX: What are ArtColLab and Verso?
PSRR: ArtColLab is our non-profit project to produce collaborations between artists and designers in order to help widen engagement in art – for example, Nicholas Kirkwood and Paul Kneale created beautiful limited edition shoes. Verso focuses on empowering people aged 15 to 29 in democratic processes. It is an experimental, poetic pedagogical model of exhibitions, workshops and more, on themes of citizenship, inclusion and the collective construction of possible futures.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: Tell us about your philanthropy in Spain.
PSRR: I love Spain and we established the Fundación Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Madrid in 2017. Madrid is a global capital and a bridge to Latin America. The fundación is now nomadic. We presented Lucas Arruda at the Ateneo in Madrid in 2023 and we’ve also brought the Young Curators Residency Programme to Spain.

A red ball of paint on a white wall with red paint dripping

1000 Pieces, 1983, by Anish Kapoor

LUX: Who are the artists exciting you today?
PSRR: Globally, they include the painters Michael Armitage and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, and the work of Josh Kline, Marguerite Humeau, and Klára Hosnedlová. In Italy, works by Giulia Cenci, Giulia Andreani, Guglielmo Castelli and Ludovica Carbotta have joined the collection.

installations in a gallery including one with a bright green light

Installation view of Rough Rides, Police States, Broken Windows, 2015, by Josh Kline; Vandal Lust, 2011, and Slavs and Tatars, Mystical Protest, 2011, both by Andra Ursuţa, at the fondazione’s recent show, “Backwards Ahead”

LUX: What is the San Giacomo recovery project?
PSRR: This island, a military site abandoned for more than 60 years, will become an outpost of dreams, a place to produce and show art, and host research and discourse on contemporary culture.

Read more: Italy Art Focus: Umberta Beretta

With its delicate lagoon ecosystem, we will implement principles of sustainability and energy transition there. The fondazione will enable San Giacomo to become a meeting place for artists, environmentalists and the public.

An island with a house on it in the middle of the sea

The isola San Giacomo, which has been a pilgrim refuge, a place of quarantine and a military site, is being transformed by the fondazione in the name of art

LUX: What will be your legacy?
PSRR: I hope I am giving back to the community what I have been fortunate to learn during 30 years in contemporary art. Time passes and I think of my two sons, who are also passionate about art, so I am building something that will take on new shapes with future generations.

 fsrr.org

This article comes from a section of a wider feature originally published in the Autumn/Winter 2023/24 issue of LUX

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A woman wearing a black and yellow dress standing between two old men
A woman wearing a white blazer with her arms folded

Italian art collector and philanthropist Umberta Beretta

Italy’s contemporary art scene is blooming. After decades of being perceived as a museum of the past, the home of the Renaissance is experiencing another rebirth under a new generation of philanthropists, curators and collectors. Guest editor Umberta Gnutti Beretta introduces and curates some of the key figures on the new Italian scene for LUX’s Italy Art Focus series

Art philanthropy has been a part of Italian culture since before the time of the Medici. It is a tradition that is not incentivised by tax breaks, as it is in countries including the US, but it is very prominent all the same. It is for this reason that we see the significant and powerful exercises of Italian philanthropy that we are showcasing in LUX.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Italian philanthropy happens among all generations including the young. We can see this in the case of Edoardo Monti, who was 26 and living in New York when, in 2017, he decided to move back to Italy, to a family palazzo in Brescia, to start the Palazzo Monti residency.

A woman in a white jacket standing next to a man in a suit

Umberta Beretta with Edoardo Monti at Spazio Almag

We are also seeing the increasing role of women. There is Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, of the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Turin, who supports contemporary artists and whose team curates art for everyone to enjoy. There is Gemma De Angelis Testa, who created ACACIA, an association of friends of Italian art, and who has donated 105 works to Ca’ Pesaro Gallery in Venice from her private collection. Giovanna Forlanelli Rovati opened the Fondazione Luigi Rovati, named after her late father-in-law, recently adding an art museum showing Etruscan and contemporary art. Beatrice Trussardi runs the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi as a nomadic project that creates exhibitions in often forgotten spaces and places. L’Espresso magazine did a story on all of us: the mecenate, female patrons of the new Italian art revolution.

Two women standing together, one waving her hand

Umberta Beretta with artist Jenny Holzer

Despite its rich art history, Italy is not a leader in the contemporary art world in terms of money – most auction activity is in London, New York, Paris or Asia. But in terms of seeing art, everyone wants to come to Venice or Milan or Florence. The quality here is very high. We have artists such as Maurizio Cattelan
, who stands out in the contemporary art scene, and Lucio Fontana in modern art history, but there is so much more. Paola Pivi and Marinella Senatore are very interesting, and there are rising stars like video artist Diego Marcon, transspecies performance artist Agnes Questionmark and industrial artist Arcangelo Sassolino.

Two men and a woman standing on a gold staircase

Umberta Beretta with Arcangelo Sassolino and Paolo Repetto

In addition to hosting foundations, Italian cities have become places for contemporary artists from around the world to live and work. Danish artist Leonardo Anker Vandal is in Brescia; Ignasi Monreal from Barcelona and
Thelonious Stokes from Chicago live and work in Florence; and Ukrainian artist Daria Dmytrenko is in Venice. As well as being the location of the Palazzo Monti residency, Brescia is the Italian Capital of Culture this year. And Florence has the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi, where Arturo Galansino has created a world-class art museum. So artists can come to Italy and take a look at what surrounds them, old and new, and be inspired. It’s different, in my view, from going to a loft space in New York and taking a look around that.

A woman wearing a black and yellow dress standing between two old men

Umberta Beretta with artist duo Gilbert and George

Our very strong commercial galleries include Massimo de Carlo, and kaufmann repetto by Francesca Kaufmann and Chiara Repetto, both in Milan. In my Brescia hometown, Massimo Minini opened Galleria Massimo Minini in 1973.

Read more: An Interview with Maurizio Cattelan

He is a great gallerist and has a long history of friendship with amazing artists, including artists of the Arte Povera of the 1960s. The art scene in Italy is very old, but it is also very new. It’s an exciting time both in Italian art and Italian art philanthropy.

Umberta Gnutti Beretta is a philanthropist who supports work in fields of medicine, women and children’s rights and the arts. Among many roles, she is on the governing council of the Fondazione Brescia Musei and is President of the Restoration Club of the Museo Poldi Pezzoli.

umbertagnuttiberetta.com

This article comes from a section of a wider feature originally published in the Autumn/Winter 2023/24 issue of LUX

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A glass and wood building that says "Ornellaia" on it
A glass and wood building that says "Ornellaia" on it
Ornellaia, recently held its 15th charity auction dedicated to the Vendemmia d’Artista 2020 ‘La Proporzione’. The online auction, conducted by Sotheby’s, raised $300,000 contributing to a total of $2.5M since the project began.  Here, Samantha Welsh speaks to Ornellaia’s CEO Giovanni Geddes da Filicaja about why this is an essential event and how he turned Ornellaia into one of the world’s most celebrated wine estates in the world

LUX: How did you start-out, and what were you invited to create with Ornellaia?
Giovanni Geddes: In 1999 I became CEO of Ornellaia; the same name as its first growth that represents the style of the estate.

Ornellaia also produces  a second wine, Le Serre Nuove dell’Ornellaia and Le Volte dell’Ornellaia, a blend made mainly by Merlot and represents a more joyful approach of the domaine style. Furthermore, Ornellaia produces two white wines, Ornellaia Bianco and Poggio alle Gazze dell’Ornellaia

A tree and deck in front of a green vineyard

LUX: How did you shine a light on the Ornellaia brand and build it separately to Masseto?
GG: I realised that it was important to create a clear distinction between Masseto and Ornellaia, so the latter did not become seen as a second wine. This is because Masseto was produced in a very limited quantity and sold at a higher price, so my idea was that Masseto needed to become an estate with its own name, its own identity, its own winery and wine. Masseto extended over 8ha and has now grown to around 11ha. We also set up a new management structure for the winery with the appointment of a Production Director and a Sales and Marketing Director. This was a milestone for the Frescobaldi group.

Three men standing up behind a man sitting in a chair holding a walking stick and a dog in his lap

LUX: What was the thinking behind the go-to-market strategy for Ornellaia; how does an art partnership potentially add value and position brand?
GG: My idea was production, promotion and brand building, so everything had to be the very best quality.

Vendemmia d’Artista project was presented in 2009 with the 2006 vintage. Since then, the estate defines every year the character of the vintage and commissions an international renowned artist to translate the vintages’ character in art. Every year 111 large format bottles are “dressed” with these art labels. These bottles have become sought after by collectors. Furthermore, in every case of six 0.75 litre bottles, one bottle bears an art label created by the artist.

green vineyards

LUX: How does the Vendemmia d’Artista project celebrate the exclusive character of each new vintage of Ornellaia?
GG: Each year, art is created and bespoked to the theme which best expresses the character of that particular vintage. First, we define the character of the wine, then an artist is identified and commissioned to interpret the character of the vintage in a series of art labels and one site-specific installation. There is no competition involved.

A room full of people and a woman giving a speech with a man in a wheelchair holding a dog in his lap

For example, Luigi Ontani, one of the most renowned Italian artists, interpreted the first Vendemmia d’Artista vintage (2006) “L’Esuberanza”, creating an artwork which portrayed this exuberant vintage; the following year, the wine was more elegant in style, so “L’Armonia” or “Harmony” was the predominant characteristic and a wonderful Egyptian artist, Ghada Amer created the concept for the artwork. The 2020 vintage, released this year, is balanced and “La Porporzione” as it has been defined by the estate, is represented by the conceptual art pioneer, Joseph Kosuth, through the art of language, an interaction and interpretation of ‘vino’ and art.

A large tree in the middle of a vineyard

LUX:  What happens with these art bottles?
GG: The artwork bottles are sold at auction through Sotheby’s. Usually there are ten lots offered (there were twelve this time) and they comprise several of the double magnums (3 litres), ten Imperials (6 litres) and the unique Salmanazar (9 litres). Proceeds were originally donated to international museums. Since 2019, we have been supporting the ‘Minds Eye’ programme of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, the award-winning programme which immerses blind and low-vision people into multi-sensory experiences to foster art appreciation.

Wines side by side on a grand marble and gold mantlepiece

LUX: Where is demand for Ornellaia particularly strong?
GG: The demand for our wines is exceeding in all markets! We have the best collaborators in all markets that together with our team support the increased awareness of our wines and that of the appellation we are part of.

LUX: With hindsight, what have you most enjoyed in your highly-successful career?
GG: Seeing Ornellaia and Masseto being recognized as Italian iconic wines, brings me great joy and pride.

rows of vineyards at sunset

LUX: What would you like to leave as your legacy?
GG: I have always wished to leave a very strong company and reinforce the estate awareness. Of course, Ornellaia and Masseto are globally very well-known, but I have always strived to amplify the characteristics and values of the wines far beyond the key markets.

Find out more:

ornellaia.com

masseto.com

 

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A man in a suit with a red waistcoat standing in a room with art
A man in a suit with a red waistcoat standing in a room with art

Durjoy Rahman, founder of the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation

A philanthropic foundation from Bangladesh is creating powerful ties between art and culture in East and West, with a nexus in Italy. Greg Thomas reports on the remarkable dialogues and cross-fertilisation across the Global South and North being catalysed by the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation.

“We have craft traditions in Bengal that are thousands of years old,” Durjoy Rahman tells me from his home in Dhaka, the capital of his native Bangladesh, which is part of the wider Bengal region. A vibrant abstract painting hangs on the wall behind him, and coloured beads adorn his wrist. Since launching the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation (DBF) in 2018, the art collector and philanthropist has made it his mission to promote the creative culture of his home country and the wider South Asian region, including Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka; and to create links between the Global South and North.

Over the past five years, DBF, which grew out of Durjoy’s collecting, has supported countless creatives through residencies, exhibitions and exchange programmes. It has linked up artists, art writers and craftspeople in South Asia and Europe, but also reaching across South America, Africa and elsewhere.

A group of people standing for a photo outside a building

Members of the Venice Bangladeshi community, from the local Bangla language school, at an open studio visit, Majhi International Art Residency, Venice, 2019

A particular concern has always been to establish ties with Italy. Or rather, as Durjoy puts it, “not Italy, but Venice. When we were making plans to build bridges between East and West, and to think about how creative people from South Asia could gain greater visibility, we felt that Venice was a perfect place to focus our efforts. Because of the Venice Biennale, it’s a gathering point for global art populations.”

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

The foundation’s latest project, the DBF-KMB Award, was launched in Venice in 2022 in collaboration with London’s Hayward Gallery. Every two years until 2028, curators from the Hayward, with representatives from the DBF and the Kochi Biennale Foundation, will select one outstanding South Asian artist exhibiting at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in Kerala, to show their work at the prestigious London gallery’s  HENI Project Space.

A group of people standing by some pillars holding a flag

Members of the Venice Bangladeshi community, from the local Bangla language school, at an open studio visit, Majhi International Art Residency, Venice, 2019

The recipient of this year’s inaugural award was announced in Venice (of course) in July – creating the third side of an international triangle between South Asia, London and Venice. Amol K Patil is an artist who works with a variety of media including installations, drawings, sculptures and moving images. He was chosen for the award on the basis of his work at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, an installation entitled The Politics of Skin and Movement; his work at the Hayward this autumn is a development of this theme. Durjoy says he admires Patil’s work for “seeking to bridge the gap between East and West, fostering an atmosphere of openness and embracing diversity.” Amol K Patil is also being supported by the DBF for his fellowship at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam for a year from September 2023.

To complement the artist award and exhibition, in alternate years, an instalment of the Durjoy Bangladesh Lecture Series, co-curated by the Kochi-Muziris Biennale Foundation and programmed by Hayward Director Ralph Rugoff, will be held at the Hayward Gallery, introducing key themes and figures from South Asian art.

A white gallery with paintings on the walls and a sculpture in the centre of the room

Arlecchino, Arlecchino and Mating Tigers, 2021, by Shezad Dawood, and Man in Shower, Porter Series, 2006, by William Kentridge, at the DBF Creative Studio, Dhaka

Durjoy often talks about his foundation’s work in terms of building bridges within and between countries. Indeed, references to water and crossings punctuate his discussion of DBF’s mission. Of equal and related significance are the affinities Durjoy sees between Bangladesh, with its maritime infrastructure and shipbuilding traditions, and the host city of the world’s most celebrated Biennale.

After all, Venice has an equally strong history of nautical trade and technology. And the businessman points out that it also has a “very large Bangladeshi community, because of the big dockyard industry. There are a lot of migrant professionals there: engineers, draughtsmen.” It is notable that, perhaps unlike some philanthropists in privileged positions in parts of the Global South, Durjoy considers all of his compatriots as equally important citizens.

Man in a black t shirt and blue jeans standing with arms crossed by a white wall

Amol K Patil, recipient of the inaugural Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation – Kochi-Muziris Biennale Award, 2023

In 2019, Durjoy launched DBF’s first major initiative, the Majhi International Art Residency Programme, hosted at Combo, a former convent in Cannaregio, Venice. This saw Venetian and Bangladeshi artists come together over two weeks to create collaborative artworks, present and perform. “The word Majhi means ‘ferryman’,” says Durjoy. “In Venice they have gondolas on their canals and in Bangladesh we have many boats on our waterways, too, so it makes sense. ‘Majhi’ also means ‘leader of the house’ or ‘leader of a group of people’, and I’d like the scheme to show a possible future direction for artistic endeavours in Europe.”

Majhi 2019 was also about nurturing local Venetian talent. Participant Andrea Morucchio is a Venetian artist whose practice raises awareness of the impact of mass tourism in Venice. His Covid 19-era project, Venezia Anno Zero, documented the serenity of La Serenissima during lockdown. “And we didn’t work in isolation from the Venetian Bangladeshi community, either,” Durjoy continues. “There’s a school that teaches Bengali to the Bangladeshi children in Venice, and the children came to see a performance by an artist from Bangladesh.”

Black and white photo of a group of soldiers with helmets wearing sweater vests

Sheikh Abu Naser, freedom fighter and younger brother of “Bangabandhu” Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, on the battlefield, 1971, by Raghu Rai, DBF Collection

Subsequent Majhi projects have also strengthened DBF’s connections with other European countries and institutions. DBF has a strong presence in Berlin, which made it possible to host the second Majhi Art Residency in Berlin in 2020 during Art Berlin, immediately before Berlin went into lockdown. In fact, DBF’s first collaboration, in 2018, was with German museum the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, to which Durjoy donated a major installation by Mithu Sen, the first work by a female Indian artist collected by a major German institution. The third Majhi residency was held in 2021 in Eindhoven, another city where the foundation has a strong presence.

A further recent major achievement of the foundation was the creation of the DBF Creative Studio. This former storage unit of Durjoy’s was converted into a gallery and space for limited gatherings during lockdown, as a way of exhibiting the wonders of the DBF collection in a safe setting.

White gallery with black and white photos of people's distressed faces on the walls

Photographs from the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war, from the book Rise of a Nation, by Raghu Rai, images from the DBF Collection, shown at the DBF Creative Studio

Through it all, connections to Venice have remained central. In October 2019, following the first Majhi residency, artists involved in the scheme came to Dhaka to take part in the city’s first Italian Contemporary Art Days, supported by the Italian Embassy in Bangladesh and other partners. This was part of the wider programme for the 15th Italian Contemporary Art Day and “a prime example of how a cultural bridge can cross borders,” Durjoy notes. Meanwhile, in Dhaka, the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation works closely with the Italian Embassy in other areas – notably staging a vintage car and motorbike event to celebrate 50 years of friendship between the two countries last year.

Read more: Art Dubai opens in support of South Asian artists

What is the wider context for DBF’s work? The idea of “writing back to the centre” is a common trope in postcolonial literature and theory. “Writing back” identifies a paradigm wherein liberated nations turn the tables on the cultures of their former colonisers through the critical optic of art and writing.

Colourful cube sculpture and wall art

Black Square Breaking into Primary Colours, 2016, by Rasheed Araeen, DBF Collection

A similar idea underpins Durjoy’s thinking on DBF’s work, which is not just about building bridges but also about subverting what he calls “the Western gaze” on South Asian culture. “It’s not about blaming anyone,” he clarifies. “It’s just that when publications about South Asian art appear, the scholars have all been groomed within the Western education system, so you get a European or American perspective.” Within news culture, meanwhile, the Western gaze has been predisposed to find images of disaster and deprivation, particularly since the 1970s, when independence from Pakistan in 1971 was followed by a period of famine and hardship for much of Bangladesh’s population.

Five men stand by a sign celebrating friendship between Italy and Bangladesh

Enrico Nunziata, Durjoy Rahman, Atiqul Islam, Shahriar Alam and Anjan Chowdhury, at the opening of the DBF/Italian Embassy vintage car and motorbike event, Dhaka, 2022

Durjoy doesn’t seek to counter negative tropes within uncritically positive ones. In fact, he is keen to talk about how the British Raj and latterly the government of Pakistan – which took control of what is now Bangladesh, first as East Bengal and later as East Pakistan, after the 1947 partition of India – both subjugated national creative cultures. “It’s not only colonialism but achieving independence late, in 1971, that has hindered the cultural development of Bangladesh,” he reflects. “And the loss of connection with our cultural heritage was due to these same factors. During colonial times, craft and creative endeavours were purposely obstructed so that craftsmen could get on with work more useful to the colonial government. Then, after the 1947 partition, still other aspects of our cultural heritage started fading away, including our own language, Bengali. There was a revolution in 1952 to protect the language.”

Strange cat like coloured sculptures presented on a wooden bridge in a gallery

History/Cartography/Territorialism, 2023, by Dhali Al Mamoon, participant in the Majhi International Art Residency in Venice, shown at the DBF Creative Studio

Happily, many of these traditions have been reborn in recent decades, with Bangladesh’s millennia-old textile industry an area of growth, notably through renewed production of jamdani, a fine handspun muslin cloth that has become an emblem of national cultural pride.

Nonetheless, as Durjoy points out, DBF’s programme for his country’s ongoing cultural rejuvenation remains timely and relevant in a global arts scene seeking to heal rifts caused by imperialism. As Durjoy puts it, in a phrase that is reminiscent of that ferryman again, the foundation is “on time”. All aboard for the ride, from Dhaka to Venice, London and elsewhere.

Read more: durjoybangladeshfoundation.org

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Model in a sparkly designer suit posing by a dark bacground
Model in a sparkly designer suit posing by a dark bacground

The Blaze Milano Gliss Bolero from the Fall ’23 Collection

Corrada Rodriguez d’Acri is a former fashion editor and stylist, and one of the founding members of Blazé Milano, the a hot Italian luxury brand on the womenswear scene. Here, she speaks to LUX in honour of the brand’s 10 year anniversary

LUX: Tell us about where your interest in fashion began.
Corrada Rodriguez d’Acri: Styling and design have been part of my life since my youngest years. I have drawings of the cartoon Jessica Rabbit in various outfits which I must have done in my first days at school, and photo albums of my youngest sister dressed up in my mom’s clothes, patiently posing for me and my imaginary fashion shoots (…I was around 14-15 years old by then). Later on my mother helped me prepare a design portfolio the year before applying for college. I went to NYC and attended the Fashion Institute of Technology, and from there I never stopped.

LUX: Did your upbringing have an influence on your designs?
CR: Most definitely. I have had the incredible fortune to grow up in very colourful and creative homes; my mother is an incredible aesthete, along with being an architect. She has always brought new life to old family properties. Watching her absorbing each step of this process has made me confident with my sense of proportion, colour palettes and composition. Through my mother I had the chance to help restore and renovate – in particular I love retouching antique frescos – and this has become a hobby I cherish deeply.

Corrada Rodriguez d'Acri wearing a Blaze blazer and red shows against an orange wall

Corrada Rodriguez d’Acri

LUX: Can you tell us the story of how you met your co-founders, and when the concept for Blazé Milano was born?
CR: We met through mutual friends and immediately connected, but became close whilst working for Italian Elle, where we worked together as stylists. Blazé was born in those days, around 2012, when we were ready to start an adventure of our own. In 2013, we opened our doors to the world.

LUX: What were the biggest challenges you faced when creating the brand?
CR: At the beginning the hardest challenge was finding the perfect way to divide duties between the three of us and the best way to interact with each other. We were new at everything, so we basically reinvented ourselves as partners, entrepreneurs, and strategic thinkers.

The Serama Bomber from the Fall ’23 Collection

We started on our very own, with no financial help, and we could only count on each other. As the brand continues to grow, everyday is a surprising challenge. We have never taken anything for granted, since even our smallest successes have helped to consolidate this fulfilling present.

LUX: Do you think that fashion design is still a male-dominated space?
CR: Not really. In the past it has been, but now we have Victoria Beckham, Chanel’s Virginie Viard , the Olsen sisters with the amazing The Row, Gabriela Hearst with Chloe and her own brand, Phoebe Philo back soon, Isabel Marant, Dior by Maria Grazia, the Attico girls, Zimmermann, and many more.

Model wearing a brown blazer paired with a red button up

The Everyday Blazer from the Fall’23 Collection

LUX: Ten years on, what do you consider the brand’s greatest achievement?
CR: That our blazers, thanks to our style, aesthetics and trademark Smiley pocket, are recognized worldwide.

LUX: How would you describe the quintessential Blazé Milano aesthetic?
CR: Blazé is timeless, effortless, chic, and wearable anytime, anywhere. When you buy our pieces, you can mix them throughout the seasons.

LUX: What is your favourite piece in the Fall 2023 collection?
CR: The Serama bomber, an oversized jacket with maxi shoulders and an ‘80s vibe – one of my favourites in fashion history.

Sparkly yellow velvet jacket and blue trousers photographed by a digital camera

A shot from the Fall ’23 presentation featuring the brand’s iconic Smiley pockets

LUX: How does Blazé Milano engage with sustainability and the climate crisis?
CR: Since day one we have committed to using the most natural textiles and accessories in the industry. We produce only in Italy; every item is made by Italian artisans and companies, and we are very proud of it.

We committed back in early 2020 with the Green Future project, to reduce the impact of our activities on the planet. Green Future Project is an online platform giving companies and private citizens the opportunity to make a difference and reduce their carbon footprint. A tree is planted with every Blazé purchase.

It is difficult to be 100% sustainable in the fashion world, but by manufacturing long-lasting garments with high-end fabrics, that don’t follow trends in order to never be out of fashion, is already a small but important achievement.

Model in a black dress and heels wearing a grey bomber jacket

Another shot of the Serama bomber

LUX: Would you ever expand into menswear?
CR: We introduced the Daybreak blazer a couple of seasons ago in a style borrowed from menswear, with the addition of our Smiley pockets, a unisex look. We also have a collection of carryover knitwear, marinière and full colour, that can be worn by everyone. Our aesthetic has a masculine feel, but always with a practical feminine touch. Sometimes matched with ruffled shirts or flowy dresses, there is a ’when boy meets girl’ feeling in all the collections.

A complete menswear collection?

We’ll see, maybe one day!

LUX: How do you envision the brand will have changed and evolved by its 20th birthday?
CR: It is a very difficult answer to give, but we really hope to make Blazé a company with solid values and a great team, promoting true Italian elegance as sustainably as possible.

All images courtesy of Blazé Milano

Find out more: www.blaze-milano.com

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Alessia Caruso Fendi in Rome
Alessia Caruso Fendi in Rome

Alessia Caruso Fendi

The doyenne of the Rome fashion family Alessia Fendi speaks to LUX about Cleopatra, Mick Jagger, her insider tips, and her latest venture in the city

Why Rome is the eternal city

It is in an eternal renaissance, always evolving. Rome has everything visitors could want, from beauty and romance to food, history and culture.

Who I’d take on a tour

Cleopatra and Mickey Mouse. The Queen of Egypt was the lover of two of Rome’s most powerful men, and when she first came here in 46 BC there was the largest procession the city had seen. I’d take her through the winding streets of bohemian Trastavere, full of people, restaurants and bars, and home of the Horti di Cesare. I’d show Mickey Mouse how a Disney character would fit perfectly into the frenzy of the city. I’m sure he would speed on a scooter to reach Minnie!

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

My favourite place here

Rhinoceros Roma is a place like no other in the city. It was founded by my mother, Alda Fendi, in 2018. The gallery shows works by artists from Michelangelo to Picasso, and there are 25 luxurious apartments for guests. It was designed by French architect Jean Nouvel and has a vibe where new meets old, luxury meets state-of-the-art tech. It’s a special haven near many of the city’s most beloved historic sites.

Rhinoceros Rome gallery

Rhinoceros apud Saepta by Raffaele Curi in the Rhinoceros Roma gallery

My ideal dinner guests

I’d host Barbara Jatta, Director of the Vatican Museums, and Mick Jagger for dinner at Rhinoceros Roma’s new rooftop restaurant, Entr’acte. It combines breathtaking views over Rome’s red rooftops with delicious cuisine.

My favourite Roman dish

Coratella is a typical dish that dates back to ancient times. It is a combination of lamb offal, artichokes, white wine, garlic, olive oil, rosemary, salt and black pepper.

The Entr’acte terrace in Rome at dusk

The Entr’acte terrace at dusk

Michaelangelo or Leonardo?

I’d have to say Michelangelo. He is one of the city’s most prominent artists and there are many examples of his genius here, from the Sistine Chapel and the Pietà in St Peter’s, to the Piazza del Campidoglio.

If you have one afternoon in Rome…

Go to the Baths of Caracalla – you will be amazed by the Roman architecture. Then dash to the Colosseum, Circus Maximus and relax at the Palatine Hill. Rome is very romantic The perfect place to propose is Giardino degli Aranci. The park has wonderful views across the city. Then celebrate with a meal at Entr’acte.

Old meets new in a sitting area in a Rhinoceros Roma apartment

My dream collaboration

I wish I’d worked with Issey Miyake to glorify his mix of craft, materials and technology through colours and geometries. I’d love to show his collections at Rhinoceros Roma. Italian artists I am looking at now I admire Pietro Ruffo, for his intricate pieces into which he incorporates ethical issues, with symbols such as dragonflies. I love Alessandro Piangiamore, whose beautiful works imprint flowers and leaves on concrete slabs. Alberto Di Fabio’s huge representations of the cosmos and the natural world are awe-inspiring.

Read more: Fausto Puglisi Interview: Refashioning Roberto Cavalli

One place I’d love to visit

Porquerolles, an island in the Parc National de Port-Cros in the Mediterranean. It’s been on my list for ages for its beauty and serenity. Coming from Rome, I am always on the lookout for quiet places to recharge in.

Find out more: rhinocerusroma.com

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

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A blue car on a road by some trees
A blue car on a road by some trees

The Lexus NX 450 on the road

In the third part of our Great Drives series, Darius Sanai travels, in a Lexus NX 450, from the Lake Zurich, Switzerland to the Tuscany Coast, Italy, ending his trip on a bottle of Masseto 2015

What is the best vehicle for transporting a lot of clothes – the spoils of a visit and meetings in various Italian fashion houses – and a lot of wine – the result of a spontaneous drop by the vineyards of Franciacorta in northern Italy? Sitting comfortably just above the speed limit on the Italian autostrada, cruising carefully while listening to the GreenBiz 350 podcast, we were fairly sure we had the answer in our Lexus. Its full name is the NX 450h+ F Sport, but for our purposes it was the car that could just do everything.

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The interior design of cars is becoming increasingly important as we do more things in them (they are effectively 3D extensions of the internet), and driving becomes more controlled and less of a sport. And here was a car with a truly beautifully designed interior. It was light, high enough off the road to give confidence – you could see everything that needed to be seen, but not so high that you felt domineering or unstable. Controls that needed to be easily touched were within sight and within reach without any fuss. Displays were clear with excellent typography. The air conditioning was a notch above the usual in terms of its ability to separate climate zones. Like any good design, it didn’t shout about itself, and it had grown on us over the previous two weeks.

A blue car next to a mountain and lake

The journey started in a small town near Lake Zurich on the northern side of the Alps. The road rose and became increasingly winding as it made its way towards the mountains we were due to cross, and we wondered briefly if we had chosen the right car. This is a hybrid SUV, efficiently powered by both electric and petrol engines, but it is also a high car, with plenty of ground clearance, excellent for driving across fields. So would it be right for twisting mountain roads?

A beach at sunset

The beach and pine forest at the Riva del Sole hotel, Tuscany

We need not have worried. This new-generation Lexus uses technology to miraculously minimise the amount the car leans when taking corners, a key consideration when driving to the Alps, as you do not want something lurching from one side to the other like an old Range Rover. The Lexus drove flat, smooth and responsive, even over the highest points of the Julier Pass, between north and south Switzerland. Sure, it wasn’t the thrill of racing a sports car to the edge of its abilities on a sinuous mountain road, but that would not have been possible anyway, given the rest of the traffic and also the strictness of Switzerland’s traffic police. Fast enough was, well, fast enough.

A bedroom with grey and gold colouring and hints of red

The Exotik Suite

Over the border in Italy, after more mountain passes and ice cream, the Alps fell into the low, hilly meadows of Franciacorta, which is where our favourite sparkling wine from Italy is produced. At its best it is creamy, complex and refreshing, like a good champagne, but with the added joie de vivre. At the main farmers’ outlet store for all the producers (and would that there were one of these in every wine-producing region), we picked from producers and cuvées impossible to find in other countries.

A sign of a well-engineered car is that it doe snot flinch when loaded up and driven hard, and this was very much the case with the Lexus. Onwards, it seemed to say, after a couple of days in Milan, as we arrowed through straight autostradas in northern Italy towards Tuscany. Here, we spent an excellent few days enjoying this car’s other attributes: its economy (fuel stations are very hard to find in rural Tuscany), its ability to deal with rough roads and unmade tracks with no fuss, and the comfort and efficiency of its interior in a hot summer. The full-length sunroof also came in for much praise, although it was mainly open at night, when it let in views of the stars and the cries of owls. A car for all reasons, indeed.

A room with a stage and a large vase in the centre of a table

Objets d’art at the Riva del Sole

Our final destination was a place well known to a certain class of intellectual Italians, roughly the equivalent of Britain’s Cotswolds set, but without the pretentions. Castiglione della Pescaia has none of the bling that has been acquired by its fellow Tuscan resort, Forte dei Marmi, but it has nature, and culture, on its side.

A swimming pool lit up a night

The hotel swimming pools by night

There is one resort hotel to stay in at Castiglione: the Riva del Sole, a resort built in the idealistic style of the mid-20th century, when Europe was thriving and confident, and nobody flew to the Maldives or Bali. You approach along a long, straight coastal road flanked on both sides by the stone pine trees that are a feature of the Italian coastline. The hotel appears amid the pineta (pine forest) on the left, between road and sea, a low-rise 20th-century modern building (Swedish owned) that, when you enter, reveals a cavalcade of original and updated modernist designs.

A wooden divider next to a bed looking out to trees

The Coral Suite

The reception area is out of a 1960s David Niven film (duly updated, of course) and our room, while compact, had a lovely aspect across the trees towards the sea. You wander from reception, past a dramatic Italian restaurant housed in another forest building, past a little newsagent shop straight out of a Jacques Tati film (magazines, beach balls, sweets) and a boutique-chic deli. A huge outdoor pool complex – several pools, really – appears on your right, with keen sports swimmers doing their lengths from the early hours. Past a hut serving snacks and drinks (there is some excellent Franciacorta on the menu), the path rises over a dune and down onto the resort’s lengthy private beach.

A restaurant with white table cloths, green chairs and plants around the room

Modern dining at Riva del Sole, Tuscany

Part of a strip of sand that stretches for 15km in a gentle arc, it is one of Italy’s most famous private beaches. The sea is warm and shallow, and the most memorable aspect is stepping out 20 metres into the sea, your feet still standing on white sand and your chosen drink in hand, looking back at the beach. The hotel and all of Castiglione have been subsumed into the pineta, such is the attention to detail of the design. All you can see is beach, forest and the mountains rising up behind. No wonder it is a haunt of the discerning Italian intelligentsia.

A blue car on a patch of grass next to a castle with a tower and turrets

The Lexus making a pit stop at the fortress of Montalcino – ancient Tuscan hilltop village and home of the celebrated wine Brunello di Montalcino

Hidden inside the pineta, the hotel also has a sophisticated Tuscan restaurant, La Palma. Sweeping interior architecture and the forest visible through windows all around combines with a wine vault of Tuscan wines – particularly from Montalcino – that a collector would die for. We chose a Masseto 2015. All savoury power and a wealth of flowing flavours, it is one of Italy’s great wines, and comes from just up the coast from Riva del Sole. In the main hotel there is also a glamorous 1960s-style piano bar, where you sit inside or out on the terrace and are served Bellinis.

Read more: Great Drive: Jura Mountains to London via Burgundy and Champagne

This is not high luxury, but it is high class; a place where the intelligent, artistic and sophisticated go to enjoy themselves with friends. And throughout, inside and out, the interior design, a subtle 21st-century take on mid-century modernism, is both playful and gorgeous. Chapeau to designer Eva Khoury. There are hotels with grander views and bigger rooms, but very few we would want to spend more time in than the Riva del Sole.

Find out more:
lexus.co.uk
rivadelsole.it
masseto.com

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A swimming pool surrounded by a hotel trees and hills and fields
A swimming pool surrounded by a hotel trees and hills and fields

Glorious exteriors at the Como Castello del Nero, Tuscany

In the fourth part of our luxury travel views column from the Spring/Summer 2023 issue, LUX’s Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai checks in at the Como Castello del Nero, Tuscany

What drew us there?

What didn’t draw us there would be the more pertinent question. This 12th-century castle hotel is on a ridge overlooking half of Tuscany. In the far distance to the north, you can see the domes and spires of Florence; on another ridge to the south, the terracotta shapes of Siena. Both are a short drive away. In between are hilltop villages, and what seems like an endless expanse of forest, vineyard, field and wild boar.

How was the stay?

Our favourite spot was at the northeast corner of the extensive outdoor pool. It is on a terrace that drops away to fields and villages below. At the pool edge is a huge old oak tree, and we set our sun loungers to its left for a view of the hotel, the pool or the Tuscan wilderness, depending on how we turned our heads by a few degrees. The breakfast terrace, relatively newly created in a refurbishment by Como Hotels and Resorts, is a few metres away and has a similar view.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Or perhaps our favourite spot was above the pool on the higher terrace leading to the hotel. This is a huge space, with sofas, chairs, planters and shrubs. The panorama stretches outwards and upwards, as this is an excellent observation station for shooting stars in summer.

A beige bedroom with white curtains around windows

The ancient-meets-modern elegance of the Loft Suite

The Castello has a couple of different wings that feature stylish and softly pared-back rooms and suites. Ours was in a corner on the ground floor, with views out and down the slopes.

A decision on whether or not to leave the hotel each day was a question of one irresistible urge meeting a countervailing irresistible urge. We resisted the temptation to visit Florence, but did drop by Siena, a pleasant 25-minute drive away. We enjoyed being back at the hotel for champagne as daylight disappeared.

Read more: The Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore, Review

There are innumerable wineries to visit in the surrounding Chianti region: you feel you could jump into them from the terrace. Of course, that would be too much effort and the option we preferred was to sit and enjoy the magical views and order wines to come to us. The hotel has decided not to mess around with the food.

A table and chairs in a wine cellar

Atmospheric dining in the Wine Cellar

Some of the best ingredients in the world, from olive oil to meat, cheese and fruits, speak for themselves at breakfast, lunch and dinner. At the Michelin-starred La Torre, guests can dine on the terrace in summer, while Pavilion offers all-day alfresco summer dining.

Anything else?

Italy is full of ancient buildings that have been converted to hotels with views. But there is nothing quite like the Como Castello del Nero.

Find out more: comohotels.com/tuscany/como-castello-del-nero

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A blonde woman wearing a white jacket and a watch with bracelets
A woman working with an older man in a workshop

Carolina in the Florence atelier with her father

She shot to success when Sarah Jessica Parker wore her brand’s Lucky bracelet in Sex and the City in 2002, and she has gone on to fuse playful designs with her family’s fine- jewellery tradition. Carolina Bucci talks to LUX’s Samantha Welsh about creating and developing her own brand vision

LUX: Were you expected to join the family business?
Carolina Bucci: My family has made fine jewellery in Florence since 1885, and my father joined the business in his teens. He was clear there was no obligation for us to join, but that if we were interested he would ensure we had a proper apprenticeship. My brother and sister declined, but I was keen. Even before I studied jewellery design at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, I had spent time watching our jewellers work, understanding how precise and physical making jewellery is.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: How did your vision set you on another path?
CB: Growing up, I was fascinated by costume jewellery: the colours, the shapes and the experimentation. I thought traditional Italian fine jewellery was stuffy and I couldn’t understand how my family heritage could be relevant to my style. In creating Carolina Bucci, I fused these two worlds. Our jewellery is made in the same traditional workshops, but we push our craft to create colourful, unexpected silhouettes that don’t feel formal. We like to say that we make gold do things that it shouldn’t do.

A diamond and sapphire bracelet with CARO weaved into it

diamond and sapphire Color Field bracelet by Carolina Bucci

LUX: How did your brand adapt during COVID-19?
CB: We are small and family owned, so, whether it was the early restrictions in Italy, safety issues or moving business online, we were agile and I am proud of what we did. We closed our London store before there was any mandate from the UK government to do so; we donated to charities; we tried to keep this non-essential item uplifting. Our FORTE Beads seemed to capture the moment, and we found new ways to tell that story.

LUX: Who is the Carolina Bucci woman?
CB: There are so many voices to our brand. That is why we created La Catena [“chain”] on the website. I wanted a place for them to speak. Whether that is filmmaker Reed Morano talking about her creative process or art dealer Sarah Hoover on motherhood, there is an authentic passion, and I hope that is what we convey. I love designing jewellery and I love aligning myself with people who share that spirit in whatever they do.

A woman taking a photo with a camera

Filmmaker Reed Morano for the brand’s website

LUX: Are you involved in content creation?
CB: I design our jewellery, and I am also involved in everything we do: the smell in our stores, the paper and ribbon we use, our digital comms. It is my name above the door, so it is my responsibility to sign off on whatever we send into the world.

LUX: Are you tempted to be more active digitally?
CB: Jewellery is and always will be a tactile category. We have an active, growing online platform, but we couldn’t be a predominantly online brand. Our presence online is just another way for people to interact with our pieces, but it can never replace our stores. We are building a new store in Florence, and one of its most exciting aspects is how it helps us think in a fresh way about our online store. I love how that dialogue happens both ways.

A cartoon of a woman in a multi coloured dress walking up the stairs in high heels with nappies falling out her bag

An illustration from Sarah Hoover’s take on motherhood from the Carolina Bucci website

LUX: What is your social-media strategy?
CB: The word that strikes me when I think of social-media strategy is “fatigue”. I think some people design with one eye on how products will look on phones. I am at the other end of the spectrum. If the design is good, those who buy the pieces are your best ambassadors, and whether they tell friends at lunch or post photos for strangers, I am happy for that interaction to take on its own life.

A blonde woman wearing a white jacket and a watch with bracelets

Carolina Bucci wears her own designs and a watch from the Audemars Piguet collaboration

LUX: What about your collaborations?
CB: Our long relationship with Swiss watchmaker Audemars Piguet has been phenomenal and brought us to a new audience. It started because I owned a 1970s AP man’s Royal Oak watch. It was perfect and I didn’t think it could be improved on. I redesigned it for women through a chance meeting with the brand’s CEO, François-Henry Bennahmias in 2013. It helped that we had shared values and ideas – both fourth-generation family businesses, focused on craft before anything else.

Read more: Cindy Chao on heritage and emotion in jewellery

LUX: What is your next move?
CB: We make jewellery, and I don’t plan to make anything else. At the same time, I love collaborating with best-in-class manufacturers… we have made glass in Murano with Laguna B, and stationery and leather goods in Florence with Pineider. I love this ability to inhabit other worlds, particularly in the service of Italian crafts.

Find out more: carolinabucci.com

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

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Reading time: 4 min
A room filled with lights and technology
A room filled with lights and technology

3Sun Gigafactory opened in 2011

Eliano Russo is Head of Enel Green Power’s 3Sun Gigafactory in Catania. Here he speaks to Samantha Welsh about the way the factory works, its benefits on the local community and the clean energy transition
A man wearing a white shirt and black blazer

Eliano Russo

LUX: What is a photovoltaic cell and how does it work?
Eliano Russo: Solar cells are the heart of solar power generation systems. A photovoltaic cell is a device that can convert the energy of solar radiation into electricity through the photovoltaic (PV) effect. This effect is possible since photovoltaic cells are usually made of semiconductor materials (the most diffused is silicon), which have weakly bonded electrons. When the light of the sun hits the PV cell, the electrons of the semiconductor receive energy from the light’s photons and are then able to move. The movement of these electrons through the metallic contacts of the cell produces an electric current. PV cells are assembled into photovoltaic panels that find applications in several fields.

LUX: What are the peculiarities and advantages of the technology 3Sun offers?
ER: 3Sun offers cutting-edge technologies in solar cell and PV module (or panel) manufacturing. Our solar cells are based on bifacial silicon heterojunction (HJT) technology, which offers several advantages over the most widespread technologies on the market. Moreover, our PV modules are manufactured in Europe with sustainable materials derived from a regulated supply chain.

A man wearing a green jumper working in a factory

3Sun Gigafactory combines research and innovation to produce new-generation photovoltaic modules that support the Enel Group in guaranteeing clean and renewable energy

Continuous innovation in pursuit of the highest level of cell efficiency is a fundamental value as we strive to maximise the effective transformation of the sunlight that hits our panels into energy. HJT technology is characterised by high performing photovoltaic modules with low degradation and in early 2020 our HJT cell achieved a world record efficiency level of 24.63%.

The double-sided structure of the solar cell allows solar radiation to be captured via direct light on the upper surface, as well as reflected or diffused light on the lower side. “Bifaciality” also guarantees extra power output even with cloudy conditions where the amount of diffused light is quite high. The solar cell is also very resilient to thermomechanical stresses thanks to the temperature during the manufacturing process that does not exceed 200°C, which also allows for thinner solar cells to be manufactured, , thus reducing the use of silicon and cutting costs.

LUX: What are the benefits for the solar supply chain and the European energy sector in general?
ER: For Europe, the photovoltaic sector represents one of the main enabling technologies to accelerate a sustainable and competitive energy transition. To reach its decarbonisation goals, in Europe we need to achieve 600 GW of installed solar capacity by 2030, which requires building and installing an additional 440 GW. On the other hand, in order to increase the continent’s energy independence and reduce risks related to external geopolitical factors, it is important not to become overly dependent on supplies from other geographies.

A solar panel

Italy’s HJT Photovoltaic Panel

Today, a large part of the photovoltaic industry supply chain is still concentrated in the Asian market, especially in China, where there is also less emphasis on environmental, energy and labor standards compared to those in Europe. Therefore, the creation of a European photovoltaic industry that can guarantee our energy security and independence while upholding those standards represents a strategic priority. In order to achieve this, we must invest to reshore the solar PV supply chain in Europe as we did in Catania, Sicily with the construction of what will be the largest solar gigafactory on the continent.

LUX: What is the potential impact for local communities?
ER: One of the most important positive impacts for the local community as a result of the factory’s expansion is the employment opportunities for Sicily, increasing local direct and indirect employment. In 2022, 50 university graduates were employed, while the selection process for an additional 100 is currently underway, as well as the selection for hiring 550 secondary school graduates. With the new hires, who will fill technical and operational positions in areas such as production, maintenance, auxiliary services, product quality and plant operation, 3Sun’s team, which already includes more than 200 people, will reach about 900 people in total. In addition, 3Sun will also generate a total of 1,000 indirect jobs, including current ones, by 2024. . These numbers mean a lot in terms of employment for a territory like Sicily, especially for young people. In some cases this means young people who have had the opportunity to return home after years of working abroad, excited to be able to contribute to the realization of a project as important as this one.

Technology in a glass box

Bifacial solar panel production at the 3SUN Factory

LUX: How essential is political collaboration to clean energy transition?
ER: It simply cannot be done without it. Our current climate policies are the direct consequence of a political commitment that we took together as Europeans and, more widely, as countries committed under the Paris Agreement. The challenge of climate change is global, it affects everyone, and the response can only be global. A strong, collective, political commitment is needed to tackle a problem of this magnitude. But the political commitment must also be matched in the private sector along with the actions of each and every one of us as individuals.

LUX: What is the role for regional partnerships in tech innovation?
ER: We will be the largest European PV factory, basing our manufacturing on the most advanced technology processes, materials, and design. We carried out a robust research and development phase in collaboration with the most important research institutes and development companies in Italy, Europe and the US. In fact, 3Sun has triggered the most advanced research consortium in Europe with renowned partners such as CEA-INES in Chambery (France), Italian Institutes such as IIT, CNR, ENEA, as well as European and Italian universities. The strict collaboration with the research centers is also witnessed by the presence of very advanced research labs within the industrial complex of 3Sun and in the nearby Enel Innovation Hub and Lab, which hosts research institutions and start-ups. The concentration of research institutes and industries in a few kilometers also encourages important exchanges and generates a very fruitful environment for the development of innovative ideas not only in the PV field. Beyond research collaborations we also work with a wide range of subcontractors in the supply chain of strategic and innovative materials as well as of advanced industrial support and maintenance processes.

A woman working in a factory

The first HJT cells were produced in February 2019 and mass production began in August 2019

LUX: Please share the aims of Project TANGO
ER: TANGO is the acronym for iTaliAN pv Giga factOry, the name of the project through which we are creating an industrial-scale production facility for the manufacturing of innovative, sustainable and high-performance PV modules at Enel Green Power’s 3Sun solar panel factory in Catania. In April 2022, under the framework of the European Commission’s (EC) first Innovation Fund call for large-scale projects, EGP and the EU signed a grant agreement that contributed to the development of TANGO, a facility that will have a production capacity of 3 GW per year by mid-2024. Of our total investment of around 600 million euros, the EC has contributed up to 118 million euros and around 70 million euros came from the Italian National Resilience and Recovery Plan.

LUX: How is the 3Sun Gigafactory in Catania innovating to leading the transition to green energy?
ER: Our production capacity of 3 GW, which we will reach in 2024, will make us the largest production facility in the photovoltaic industry in Europe. However, our contribution to the energy transition is not only quantitative but also qualitative. The values that guide us are innovation and sustainability, two pillars that enable us to create a high quality product made in Europe.

A solar panel in front of a blue board

3Sun Gigafactory represents a model that could be used all over the globe

LUX: Can you accelerate performance to be sure of meeting targets?
ER: We won’t ever stop innovating. The architecture of the 3Sun HJT solar cell is highly compatible with the so-called Tandem structure in which a perovskite top cell is coupled with a silicon bottom cell, the top cell utilises the blue component of the solar spectrum and transmits the red component to the silicon solar cells. The 3Sun tandem structure, that we call “Tango Technology”, allows the solar cell to reach higher efficiencies, well above the theoretical limits of silicon solar cells. 3Sun is developing innovative technology with the aim of increasing solar cell efficiency, achieving more than 30%.

LUX: Longer term, how do you see 3Sun Gigafactory model developing?
ER: 3Sun Gigafactory represents a model that could be replicated elsewhere in Italy, Europe and other parts of the world. As outlined previously, in order to accelerate the energy transition and ensure energy independence and security in Europe, it is necessary to build a European ecosystem of highly efficient solar PV module manufacturing.

Find out more: enelgreenpower.com/3SUN-factory

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Reading time: 7 min
A woman with brown hair wearing a pink dress
A woman with brown hair wearing a pink dress

Kelly Russell Catella

For International Women’s Day we are spotlighting Kelly Russell Catella, Head of Sustainability and Communication at COIMA, a major Italian real estate fund manager. COIMA has total investments of 5.5 billion euros with a declared focus on large scale sustainable urban planning. Here, Catella speaks with Samantha Welsh about making cities vibrant, accessible and healthy for all and the importance of an environmentally conscious city for a community

LUX: How did you start your journey on driving better approaches to sustainability in city-making?
Kelly Russell Catella: COIMA has always been very focused on quality and sustainable development since it was founded nearly 50 years ago. My own professional journey in the industry first started coordinating the first Italian Urban Land Institute chapter in Italy until our family established in the Fondazione Riccardo Catella in 2005. The Foundation is a not-for-profit institution with the mission to improve the quality of urban life and promote the culture of sustainability in cities. Since then, I’ve also been responsible for leading sustainability at COIMA, which is a value we truly believe in and is integrated deeply in the process of our value creation for all stakeholders.

One of our most important projects is Porta Nuova in Milan, one of the largest urban regeneration projects to have taken shape in Europe. Last year it became the first urban neighbourhood in the world to achieve both the LEED and WELL certifications for Community. These are the leading global certifications related to sustainability, health and wellbeing of buildings and communities. Achieving this ‘world first’ was for us a real endorsement of our approach, which is about focusing on the long-term sustainability of the entire neighbourhood, not just specific buildings. We find it key to think about the place, the whole community, and how the transformation fits into the context of the needs of the wider city.

LUX: Why was pursuing LEED and WELL certification for Porta Nuova so important?
KRC: Creating more liveable, healthy communities and places where people are in contact with nature, culture and beauty is what really drives our daily effort. Achieving the LEED and WELL for Community ratings for Porta Nuova is a validation that we worked to deliver on our promise to create a genuinely sustainable community in a measurable way. It is also about constantly challenging ourselves to do more, to push the bar higher and set new benchmarks in the industry.

a park with a view of a building covered in plants

Biblioteca degli Alberi Milano (BAM), the public park in Porta Nuova

While certifications and ratings are important to measure and prove the positive impact of a project, it is vital that we do not fall into the trap of a superficial ‘box ticking’ approach to sustainability; they are not an end in themselves, they are part of a wider methodology to create a comparable standard. It comes down to all of us to show genuine leadership in the transition to the low carbon economy – passion and commitment to deliver positive social and environmental impact and transparency in reporting.

LUX: The Bosco Verticale towers in Porta Nuova have become a global icon and the face of the new more eco-friendly Milan. Do they provide a prototype of more sustainable development for other cities?
KRC: At the time the Bosco Verticale – literally vertical forest – was the first project to integrate trees on such an ambitious scale. There are 780 trees and 16,000 shrubs and plants across the two residential towers, which is equivalent to around 20,000 m2 of forest. In many ways the development gets better with age, as the trees grow and mature and the benefits to the residents multiply – from regulating the temperature of the building to enhancing mood and wellbeing. Our partner on the project, the visionary architect Stefano Boeri, is now taking the vertical forest concept to other cities, including Dubai and Eindhoven, creating a new generation of high-rise urban buildings completely covered by the leaves of trees and plants.

purple flowers and A building covered in plants in the distance

Bosco Verticale at Residenze Porta Nuova

It is now seen as a sustainable model for the future of tall buildings. Working with Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Stefano Boeri Architetti we are taking the concept further at Porta Nuova with Pirelli 39, a mixed-used project which includes the sustainable refurbishment of an existing building and the development of Torre Botanica. The buildings base is connected to the Biblioteca degli Alberi Milano (BAM) or “library of trees” – the public park and botanical garden that serves as a natural oasis and community engagement hub of Porta Nuova.

LUX: How has the public-private partnership with the Municipality of Milan been game-changer in terms of enabling a more sustainable approach?
KRC: Sustainable city making is not possible without strong partnerships. We are very fortunate to have had sensitive administrations for consecutive mandates in the Municipality of Milan that shares the vision to create a more sustainable, green city, designed around people, rather than cars. They shared our vision to make Porta Nuova a fully pedestrianised neighbourhood centred around the natural environment presented in BAM.

Through an innovative public-private partnership between the City and COIMA, the Fondazione Riccardo Catella has been responsible for the management, security, maintenance and cultural programme of the BAM since July 2019. This is the first ever public-private partnership agreement for the management of a public park in Italy and it would not have been possible without the strong long-term commitment and understanding by both parties.

LUX: What strategies for Porta Nuova have you found particularly effective at a human level to help foster a sense of community and a sustainable ecosystem?
KRC: Fundamentally, we believe in placing nature and humans at the centre of all our developments and that this approach leads to real value creation. It is important to listen to people to understand their vision for the urban space in their communities and ensure that our designs can improve their quality of life. For example, at BAM we produce a diverse programme of more than 250 cultural moments and activities each year for residents, workers, and visitors.

This has a big focus on wellbeing and has a range of activities dedicated to senior citizens. We had actually planned to suspend the outdoor program in the coldest months of January and February and resume in March. Instead the group that meets every week asked us to continue saying it was the best morning of their week because they got together, socialized, had coffee after, so of course we kept the programme running over those months.

I know it seems small but when you are managing at a neighbourhood level in the centre of a city, listening to your end user of the public space helps create a type of community which we feel will be resilient over time. This what we mean by focusing on the long-term sustainability of the entire neighbourhood, not just specific buildings. The park and the rich cultural programme work together to create a sense of community – and furthermore, with the Fondazione we would like to create a sustainable business model for this kind of public-private partnership that could be replicated in other parks in other cities across the globe.

LUX: In your approach to the development of the Olympic Village 2026 at Porta Romana, how important is sustainability including ensuring a enduring legacy?
KRC: We are working with Fondazione Milano Cortina and the Italian Government to set a very high standard regarding sustainability for the Olympic Village and we hope the legacy will become a template for a more sustainable approach to future Olympic Games (and global sporting event) development. It will also leave a positive legacy for Milan. After the Games, the village will be transformed into affordable student accommodation, with 1,700 beds, addressing a major shortage of modern student accommodation in Milan.

aerial shot of lit up buildings

Plans for the 2026 Winter Olympic Village at Porta Romana

The student accommodation will sit within a wider urban neighbourhood including affordable housing, co-working facilities, community amenities, public spaces and parks and gardens. The Olympic Village Plaza will become a neighbourhood square, with shops, bars and restaurants at street level, and space for farmers’ markets and moments open to the community. If the Games are to be the success story that we all envision, environmental and social impact must be a driving force behind those plans.

LUX: How are you ensuring the Porta Romana project will be implemented to minimise environmental impact?
KRC: The Olympic Village itself actually only comprises only around 15% of the total investment in the regeneration of the former Porta Romana railway yard, so you can understand the scale of the project. Our vision for Porta Romana, together with the partners of the project Covivio and Prada Holding, is that the district will be grafted into the surrounding neighbourhoods, becoming a vibrant, green, sustainable and healthy place that is wholly part of the city, where work and leisure activities will be at the centre of life in the neighbourhood.

People growing green plants

Plans for community gardening within the public park at Porta Romana

Working with the architects selected for the masterplan – Outcomist, Diller Scofido + Renfro, PLP Architecture, Carlo Ratti Associates and ARUP – and with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), winner of the Olympic Village tender, Porta Romana is designed to have near zero environmental impact. It will also include a wide central park and gardens designed by Elizabeth Diller, the landscape designer of the New York Highline, with a ‘suspended forest’, which could become a new major tourist attraction in Milan. Altogether around half the site will be gardens or greenspace. Through this approach we are working to ensure the project sets the bar even higher in terms of sustainable urban development

LUX: How important is technology in creating sustainable neighbourhoods and communities?
KRC: Technology has a big role to play in delivering a sustainable scheme, whether through gathering and measuring the sustainability performance of the buildings or increasing community engagement and participation in initiatives on a neighbourhood level. At Porta Nuova we are piloting a ‘smart’ neighbourhood project, with an infrastructure of sensors and Internet of Things (IoT) devices capable of acquiring information in real time about the behaviour of users and their needs and the quality and performance of the infrastructure in the district.

This works alongside the Porta Nuova Milano neighbourhood app, which allows users to interact with buildings and access an extended range of services within the residential, office, retail and public spaces. The aim is to facilitate people’s lives and at the same time build the sense of community and encourage more environmentally conscious behaviour. We are also supporting a tech accelerator programme on site at Porta Nuova, called HabiSmart, with start-ups focused on transforming real estate through technology. The startups are hosted in the COIMA HQ and they are able to test their prototypes within the Porta Nuova district. This enables them to get real-time feedback from the field, accelerating the process of development and scale-up.

LUX: Is there one sustainable project you think is low cost and particularly impactful that could be scaled globally?
KRC: The built environment accounts for around 40% of global emissions. If the industry were a country, it would be the third largest emitter in the world, behind China and the US. We are in an emergency and time is running out. We now have the technology to deliver zero carbon in operations during the life of the buildings, but we need to look much more closely at the reuse of existing buildings to reduce the currently unavoidable embodied carbon emissions generated through the construction process.

a street with trees and two tall buildings

Pirelli 39, with La Torre Botanica and the Pirellino Tower

We need to change mindsets so that the first principle is to examine whether an existing building can be modernised and refurbished rather than demolished, as we are doing with the Pirelli 39 project that will see the existing 1960s Pirellino office tower refurbished to create a highly sustainable modern office building created out of the existing structure and standing next to La Torre Botanica.

Retrofit, reuse, repurposing, wherever possible, and integration of biodiversity in the urban projects is what we must all seek to do more. We need to stop viewing sustainability as an additional cost, but as integrated into the core of the business model that can mitigate risks and maintain returns long term while contributing to a healthier environment and a more cohesive social surrounding.

Find out more: www.coima.com

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A talk being hosted with an audience in a room with a marble fireplace and yellow wallpaper and a painted ceiling

A white stone palace

One of the hottest tickets in Rome this month was ‘The Art of Conversation’ arranged by Deutsche Bank and Frieze with renowned artist, Karin Kneffel

The event was hosted amid the baroque opulence of Palazzo Barberini. Archrivals of the Medici family, the Barberini produced generations of wanton spendthrifts, nepotist popes and, consequently, bequeathed Italy a legacy of extraordinary art and heritage.

The discussion around art played-out in the Salone Pietro da Cortona, beneath the aptly-named fresco, “Triumph of Divine Providence”

people standing in a room with yellow wallpaper and a painted ceiling

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Hosts were Federico Scrocco [Vice Chairman International Private Bank Italy, Deutsche Bank] and Nathan Clemens-Gillespie [Director of Frieze Masters] who introduced the evening. Skilled probing from moderator Nicholas Cullinan, Director of London’s National Portrait Gallery, drew insights from artist Karin Kneffel about her use of perspective, scale and layering in her work.

5 people sitting in front of marble structure and yellow patterned walls giving a talk and a host standing beside them with a microphone

A favoured student of Gerhard Richter, Karin Kneffel has a fascination with the super-real. The effects she produces with distanciation techniques were vividly shared through a curation of images that produced animated questions from the audience.

A talk being hosted with an audience in a room with a marble fireplace and yellow wallpaper and a painted ceiling

Read more: An Interview With KAWS

International guests drawn from art cognoscenti, government ministers, and leading entrepreneurs adjourned to the terrace to continue thoughtful conversation around the alignment of wealth with responsibility and the purposes of art in the 21st century.

Find out more: art.db.com

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A silver metal bar with glasses in it in front of a red wall
A silver metal bar with glasses in it in front of a red wall

Barrha Bar by Yann Le Coadic. Image courtesy of Pouenat

After two years online, PAD returns to its home in Mayfair, and with it brings its eternal reverence to craft and tradition, as well as new faces to the artistic hub – heritage and innovation await

From the 10-16th October, the 14th edition of PAD London, sister to PAD Paris residing annually in the Jardin des Tuileries, returns with its celebration of 20th century and contemporary design, with “a roster of world-class interior decorators and designers”, as the various disciplines of art and design meet again.

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Grounded by the history of its founder, Patrick Perrin, a fourth generation antique dealer, the art and design fair coalesce modernist tradition and contemporary works, as 67 galleries bring designers from across 27 countries, with visitors able to walk amongst cachet mid century Italian cabinets and historic names such as Portaluppi, Scandinavian textile compositions, works from Poland to Portugal, only to gloss over the worldly exhibits awaiting. The booths will be sites of collaboration, “sparking a conversation between past and present”, as stated by Perrin, with exhibitors placing retro-futuristic and contemporary metal work alongside Brazilian modernist design; natural, sculptural forms rubbing shoulders with American furniture.

white splattered paint on a black board

‘Jackson Pollock’ Screen Room Divider by Dino Gavina & Kazuhide Takahama. Image courtesy of Portuondo London

“With their distinct approach to collecting, PAD London and PAD Paris epitomise how artistic genres across time and periods interact to reveal astonishing combinations and create the most individual and striking interiors.” says Perrin, “Over the past decades, the two PAD fairs have become a byword for connoisseurship, exquisite taste and curatorial flair, showcasing the very best in modern and contemporary design and decorative arts from the world’s leading galleries.”

green cushioned chairs with bronze metal

Chaise Maurice Armchairs by David Nicolas. Image courtesy of Nilufar, Amendolagine and Barracchia

The week will show returning masters such as Joy de Rohan, a reminder of the unique platform PAD London provides French artistry, and 18 first time exhibitors, such as London’s own Francis Sultana and Beirut based Galerie Gabriel and Guillaume.

Read more: The Special Relationship of Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar and Ali Jassim

The most established and emerging of  new voices across art and design are being exhibited, as age old techniques are adopted by young maestros. Equally a beacon of innovation, the fair promises many designers focusing on sustainable practice, with responsibly sourced materials and repurposed waste, reflecting upon materiality as a result.

A bright yellow marble looking light in front of a blue wall

Aqua Fossil Chandelier by Amarist Studio. Image courtesy of Priveekollektie

The artful world of jewellery will be presented by a triad of female gallerists, as women dominate across other mediums too, as PAD continues to deliver unending variety rooted by a deep care for craftsmanship.

PAD London will be taking place from the 10th to 16th October.

Find out more: www.padesignart.com
For tickets: tickets.padesignart.com

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An infinity pool overlooking a lake and green mountain
deckchairs on the grass with a view of the lake and mountains

A grassy terrace overlooking Lake Garda at Lefay Resort

In the fourth part of our luxury travel views column from the Spring 2022 issue, LUX’s Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai checks in at the Lefay Resort in Lake Garda

Infinity pool? Haven’t we seen enough of those to stop being impressed? The pool stops, the sea beyond it starts, pretty and pleasant, and every villa on every island has one. End of story.

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Except, the pool at Lefay Lake Garda is different. It’s true that when you are swimming in it, you can’t tell where the pool ends and Lake Garda starts. The difference is that the lake is about 600m (2,000ft) below you, down a steeply forested mountainside. Look across the lake, and you are at the same height as the top of the Alps lining the other shore. Look up, and you are just below the peaks of the Italian Alps at the point at which they drop into the northern Italian plain. It’s like being in an infinity pool in a hot air balloon.

An infinity pool overlooking a lake and green mountain

The infinity pool

Everything here is about the views. Our balcony terrace looked at yet another peak, behind the hotel, and the surroundings were pure Alps: meadows, wildflowers, forests and rocks. No hint at all that the biggest and most touristic of the Italian lakes was immediately below on the other side. The room was contemporary cool, all peaceful light colours, and absolute silence on the terrace at night, barring the cry of some or other mountain bird.

There is plenty of space to spread out here – no cramped pool terraces like you get at many hotels on the edge of the Italian lakes, which are constrained by the steep mountain sides rising up above. You can stroll from one garden to the main pool terrace to another garden and lawn, all with a different aspect of the view. The clientele when I went was mainly couples, who would stroll into the spa (just inside from the pool terrace) and emerge glowing from treatments.

restaurant on a terrace with green tablecloths and a view of the mountains and lake

Trattoria la Vigna

For lunch, up a level (of mountain and hotel) there was a broad, informal terrace serving osteria-style food: salads, cured meat, pastas.

Read more: Luxury Travel Views: Hotel Costes, Paris

Once you are here, it is tempting not to leave (during your stay, or ever). But venture out for a day trip and within 20 minutes you will be on the shore of one of Italy’s most celebrated lakes, with ochre-hued villages teeming with gelaterias (and tourists: Lake Garda is nothing if not discovered). A little further round the lake is Verona, the city of Romeo and Juliet, and its summer opera in the Roman amphitheatre a perfectly feasible evening out from Lefay. Dinner at the opera and breakfast on a mountaintop: that’s infinite variety for you.

Find out more: lagodigarda.lefayresorts.com

This article appears in the Summer 2022 issue of LUX

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Furniture showroom
Showroom

The Bentley Home ‘2022’ collection, shown at the atelier

LUX stops off at the new Bentley Home atelier in Milan to check out its latest furniture collections

Bentley Home has opened its new atelier on Milan’s Corso Venezia. An homage to British and Italian craftsmanship, it marks the next step for the lifestyle arm of the British automotive manufacturer, which, since its establishment in 2013, has evolved from skis and golf clubs to what it calls ‘spaces, places, and environments’.

To coincide with the opening, Bentley Home has launched two new furniture collections. Co-designed by the automotive designers in Crewe, in the UK, and the Italian craftspeople of Bentley Home, ‘Solstice’ and ‘2022’ reimagine the signature design elements of the coveted cars for a domestic context.

Building

The neoclassical architecture of the Bentley Home Atelier

‘We always say that you should feel as good getting out of a Bentley as you did getting in, regardless of the distance you’ve travelled,’ explains Chris Cooke, head of product and lifestyle design at Bentley. ‘It was a logical step to translate that sensory experience into the home palette.’

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The modular ‘2022’ collection is characterised by wood veneers and leather, available in a variety of swatches. Described by Cooke as ‘eclectic’, the collection is the result of the disparate industries which have come together to create it – from automotive to furniture, art to interior design.

Furniture showroom

The ‘2022’ collection, featuring a mirror designed in collaboration with Francesco Forcellini

Take, for instance, the collection’s signature degradé effect, realised in collaboration with leading artists; or the Stirling mirror, which was created in partnership with Milanese designer Francesco Forcellini. Made from a single sheet of glass, the mirror replicates the signature curvature of the cars, and features minute, cross-hatched diamonds which have been cut using a laser into its surface.

Read more: Gaggenau: The Calming Influence Of Biophilic Design

‘Solstice’, Bentley’s first outdoor furniture range, is distinguished by the steel diamond detailing which runs throughout – a variation on the front matrix grille of the Continental, Bentayga and Flying Spur. The designers have also made use of sustainable, weather-proof materials, including a first-of-its-kind marble ‘leather’, made from waste marble powder, and a water-resistant botanical hemp fabric, cultivated without the use of fertilisers and chemicals.

Outdoor furniture

‘Solstice’ is Bentley Home’s first outdoor furniture collection

With the Bentley Residences – a 60-floor luxury beachfront tower on Miami’s Sunny Isles Beach – scheduled for completion in 2027, only time will tell what heights the Bentley lifestyle sphere will reach.

Find out more: bentleymotors.com

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red, green and black lamborghinis parked in front of a mountain
red, green and black lamborghinis parked in front of a mountain

Our fleet at the foot of the Cervino (Matterhorn) in Cervina, Italy

You might associate Lamborghinis with Dubai, Cannes, Los Angeles and London, shooting down city streets or parked outside expensive restaurants and hotels. Candice Tucker visits Sant’Agata Bolognese, Italy, the home of the brand, and drives, and is driven in, the company’s latest models to a village high in the Alps

Like many, I find I can be easily distracted by a Lamborghini’s sleek shape, often ostentatious colours (most famously green, yellow and orange) and of course, the sound the engine makes when someone speeds past you.

Visiting the factory, watching the cars being made, altered my perception of the brand.

Making our way up into the Alps in convoy

Take a quick tour around the factory, in central Italy, and you can begin to see why these cars are some of the most expensive in the world. There are rows of stations, and clocks on each row that don’t say the time, but the amount of minutes each worker has left to work on their station. 33 minutes. That’s how long each worker in the main Urus factory has to do their part in the making of each Lamborghini. From the door fitters to the needle workers on the leather seats, everyone is under a timer to move their part onto the next station. The robots are only used to assist rather than replace the human hand. Your green status symbol is indeed hand made.

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The Lamborghini factory has been CO2 neutral since 2015

The future is electric cars, and it’s difficult to imagine what this means for Lamborghini’s distinct sounding engines, but this hasn’t stopped them pursuing a hybrid transition with gusto. They expect by 2023 to create their first hybrid series production car and by the second half of the decade, Lamborghini has committed to creating a fully electric model.

The Lamborghini V12 is the brand’s flagship engine

After the factory came the journey, in various Lamborghinis. I started mine in the ‘beast’, also known as the ‘Urus’. Lamborghini’s SUV (large 4×4) is huge and extremely powerful. Driving it, you feel as if you are in the emperor of SUVs. Very big, very fast, and you can alter driving modes like in a supercar. “Corsa” mode felt wicked – Corsa means race in Italian.

Lamborghinis parked in a semi circle inside a fort

Lamborghini makes a full-on supercar, the Aventador; a more practical two-seater sports car, the Huracán; and a powerful SUV, the Urus. All are available in a variety of specifications – and colours

If you want to take a step further into raciness mode, the Huracán STO or the SVJ Aventador might interest you. The Aventador is futuristic and showy from the outside. Inside, the SVJ is stripped of all its finer comforts, and you sit in unforgiving carbon fibre seats. It’s all about speed, which is no surprise given it is renowned V12 engine, which was deafening particularly when you drive through tunnels, the sound drilling through your ears. The STO is slightly lighter to drive and the exterior of the car is as close as you’ll get to looking like a race car on the road. Both cars offer the same extreme performance, but the STO allows you to remain cocooned in luxury by comparison.

The Urus was the most sold Lamborghini model in 2021, with 5,021 deliveries

Having travelled across the motorway, through the ancient part of the village of Bard in the Aosta valley (where cars are normally prohibited) and up the mountains to Cervinia, Lamborghini demonstrate that their cars are fit for purpose on any terrain. Whilst I wouldn’t suggest driving on icy roads, we put the STO and the Huracán EVO to the test, driving on an ice ring. The STO being a rear wheel drive, made this slightly more difficult to manoeuvre, but the EVO retained its speed and control.

Huracán EVO spinning on the ice track

The ultimate experience for me was the Huracán EVO Spyder. This is a convertible 640 horsepower supercar. Scaling the Italian Alps with the roof down, enjoying the fresh mountain air casting over your face was fun. With no space for a suitcase or even a hand luggage, the EVO wouldn’t be the car for your family ski holiday but it’s perfect for a day trip. The lightness of the car made it very agile up the mountain.

Read more: A tasting of Dalla Valle wines with the owners

Driving through the streets of the village of Bard, in the Aosta valley, where cars are usually prohibited. You can see why

There were no other Lamborghinis of any colour in Cervinia. It’s not that kind of place. It’s all about cows, mountain air, and the shadow of the Matterhorn. But what an adventure getting there in four of the most exciting and eye-catching cars in the world.

Find out more: lamborghini.com

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bedroom terrace
palatial hotel on edge of mountain

The Splendido with its legendary pool and restaurants, above Portofino. Image courtesy of Belmond/Mattia Aquila

In the third part of our luxury travel views column from the Autumn 2021 issue, LUX’s Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai experiences la dolce vita in Portofino

My one encounter with the Splendido Mare, the village-based sister hotel of the celebrated hillside Splendido in Portofino, was a little over 10 years ago. Since then, the port area of the village has been pedestrianised, and the Mare has been upgraded with its own character (to reflect a kind of village-chic identity, escaping from the shadow of its showy sibling). What a difference! Artful touches, gentle lighting and townhouse style abound, and getting to our “village view” room along a labyrinth of corridors was a delight, with a feeling of staying in a real house. “Village view” could mean a wall, but actually it was out along the Via Mare, the cute main street, which, now pedestrianised, was a blush of colourful visitors eating ice-creams and pizza at the outdoor restaurants. Perfect insulation meant it was quiet, also.

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We arrived late one evening, met at the other end of the Via Roma (all of 100 metres away – Portofino is tiny) by the hotel porter who took our luggage while another parked our car. On the stroll into the hotel we noticed the restaurant at the front of the building, on the main piazza on the harbourfront, was buzzing; twenty minutes later we were installed at a table on its front row, with a perfect vista of the evening passeggiata as the light dimmed over the hillsides on either side of the harbour.

bedroom terrace

The terrace of one the bedrooms at Splendido Mare

The Mare has a family-run vibe, despite being part of an international hotel group; the fritto misto of fish and shellfish with fruit and vegetables was a spectacle in the serving, and worked extremely well with a bottle of Lagrein red from northeast Italy, although a more conventional choice from the wonderful wine list would have been a Frascati or even a chardonnay-based Franciacorta. Next time.

Read more: Nayla Al Khaja on filmmaking and female empowerment

The beauty of the Mare is you can step right out onto the harbourfront (now with zero traffic and no noisy Vespas – a true transformation) and, in our case, onto the hotel’s boat for a whizz around the coastline: to the lighthouse point at the tip of the peninsula and back along the coast to the resort town of Santa Margherita Ligure, playing a game of spot the mansion (Dolce & Gabbana; Versace; Berlusconi; Agnelli) and spot the yacht (pass – seems like stalking).

italian harbour

The harbourfront at Portofino, home to the Splendido Mare. Photograph by Darius Sanai

And then it’s a short shuttle ride or walk up through the gardens to the original Splendido. This grande dame is perched high above the village, and there’s no better introduction than a long pizza lunch (those pizzas! That tomato sauce!) accompanied by a longer bottle of Ca’ del Bosco rosé Franciacorta (Italy’s splendid alternative to pink champagne); the pizzeria is metres from the pool, where you can revive yourself afterwards.

The Splendido’s curved pool is a historic place to gaze out over the bay and dream; we had an even better alternative in the form of our balcony, which had the same view and no other people. Aperitif, quick change, down to the bar above the pool for a little jazz piano and the same view, seen from within the gardens; and then dinner. Definitely the place for the ravioli with Ligurian herbs, lobster and bisque.

Book your stay: belmond.com

This article was originally published in the Autumn 2021 issue.

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people gathered round dining table
people gathered round dining table

One of La Cura’s intimate supper clubs hosted by Olivia Muniak in Los Angeles

In her first column for LUX, Los Angeles-based chef and entrepreneur Olivia Muniak traces the historical and modern significance of coming together to drink and dine

woman holding plate of food

Olivia Muniak

Gathering together to drink and dine has a long, primal tradition as a social glue of humanity. In Roman times, banqueting was an important social ritual involving extravagant menus with multiple courses, luxurious tableware, and diverse forms of entertainment. There were even civic feasts offered for all of the inhabitants of a city, often accommodating large numbers of diners.

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Of course, food or rather the lack of it has also given rise to revolutions. Marie Antoinette infamously uttered the phrase “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche” (“Let them eat cake”) on hearing that the peasants had no bread during one of the famines in France under the reign of her husband King Louis XVI. While it’s uncertain whether or not Marie Antoinette actually spoke these words, the phrase has acquired symbolic importance as an illustration of the upper classes’ ignorance, and the beginnings of the French Revolution.

If we look at religious holidays and the types of food that have been and continue to be served, we can also find connections with history. Lamb, for example, is served on Easter as a good omen, and is said to represent Christ while on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, apples and honey signify hope for future.

All of that is that is to say: food does not influence culture, it mirrors it and provides an important insight into the evolution of humanity. A pivotal point in American culture, for example, was the advent of the TV dinner which represented a huge shift in the archetype of family and our modern world. In the early 1950s, millions of white women entered the work force meaning that mothers were no longer at home to cook elaborate meals and pre-made frozen dinners provided the perfect solution: all you had to do was pop them in the oven, and thirty minutes later the family could be eating a hot supper while enjoying the new national pastime: television.

In Italy, food, drink and socialising go hand in hand. An aperitivo (pre-meal drink) is a cultural ritual, signifying the end of the working day. The Milanese take their aperitivo so seriously that the slang term apericena came about as a description of when drinks spill over into dinner. In Spain and some Latin American countries, sobremesa is the tradition of relaxing at the table after a heavy meal to relax, digest and converse, and in Sweden, it’s considered essential to make time for fika, a short coffee break, every day. We Americans go for all of it: cocktails, fine dining, street food, food trucks, coffee shops. We love a reason to get together with friends and indulge. The point is: humans have an appetite for good food and good company.

In 2019, I founded La Cura, a sustainable catering and event production company, based on that principle, but also because I was yearning for experiences that supported meaningful connection. I had recently moved to Los Angeles from New York and was eager to build a sense of community, and so it began, as a supper club in my backyard. I sold tickets to multi-course, family style meals. The first event was 32 guests, all different ages and from diverse backgrounds, crammed around one table. Guests had to pass platters of food to one another, share bottles of wine and the warmth of these very ordinary gestures created fast bonds between perfect strangers. The best story I heard from one of those events is that two guests (who both randomly ended up getting a ticket because a friend couldn’t go) began a podcast together.

Read more: Shiny Surfaces, Lawsuits & Pink Inflatable Rabbits: In Conversation with Jeff Koons

Over the last year or so, we have been starved of this simple, sensory act of gathering over food and drink. Instead, we met across screens – on Zoom, Facebook and Whatsapp – or hosted the same small circle of friends or family. When it became safe and socially acceptable to gather again, my company was booking a month plus in advance for brand events and dinners centred mainly around intimate dinners, which provided an escape from the ordinary. And this trend is only set to continue with many people hosting their own dinner parties having honed their cooking skills and invested in tableware over the various periods of lockdown. Alongside my company, which curates the menu and the evening, there are many consumer facing tabletop rental companies such as Social Studies which make it easier to throw larger events or themed parties within the comfort of your own home.

dinner party scene

 

These kinds of social acts are good for us: they break up our days, increase productivity, provide a space for us to unwind, relax and have fun. They add colour and depth to our lives, and now, in the wake of the pandemic, meeting for a drink or meal has become more meaningful than ever. What this time has taught us is that food and drink is what binds us. It connects us to our personal memories, a sense of self, as well as to our cultural histories and traditions. I have a childhood friend, whose mother makes a marble cake for every birthday celebration and every time I see a marble cake, I think of both her birthday and my family’s restaurant, where is also served it by the slice. Wherever I am in the world, it brings me a sense of comfort and nostalgia.

No matter our background or culture, the act of eating and drinking together is something we all share. It’s a basic human need and a communal pleasure. More importantly, in this hard-to-predict time, the ritual of dining and drinking brings a sense of grounding and normality to our lives.

Olivia Muniak is the founder of La Cura, a Los Angeles-based catering and events company. For more information, visit: thisislacura.com

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car event at Italian villa
car event at Italian villa

The new Rolls-Royce Boat Tail was unveiled at Concorso d’Eleganza, Villa d’Este, Lake Como

Rolls-Royce unveiled the world’s most expensive new car at a glamorous event on the shore of Lake Como last week. A recreation of its iconic 1932 model, the Boat Tail comes in a series of three bespoke commissions for clients, believed to be $28m each. Ella Johnson reports

With its wooden hull and sail-like wings, you’d be forgiven for thinking Rolls-Royce Boat Tail belonged on water rather than land. Unveiled at a private ceremony on Lake Como last week, the car’s nautical appearance certainly befitted its watery surroundings; yet this is a car destined to be driven on land – by a very wealthy owner.

The Boat Tail is the latest creation from Rolls-Royce Coachbuild, the division of the UK-based, German-owned manufacturer devoted to making extremely exclusive, limited-run, hand-finished creations for some of the world’s richest people.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

It certainly looks striking, and suited the surroundings of its launch at the Concorso d’Eleganza, the elite classic car show at the Villa d’Este. Standing beside his creation, Rolls-Royce Head of Coachbuild Design Alex Innes described the Boat Tail as ‘transcending mere conveyance’ to ‘become the destination itself’.

There are certainly worse places to be sitting while in the summer traffic jam to get to Club 55 in St Tropez (although the Boat Tail owner would also doubtless have a fleet of helicopters, plus a superyacht and tender, at his disposal for such occasions). The car’s in-built hosting suite at the rear stores two chilled bottles of champagne (platinum-wrapped Armand de Brignac at the launch event, if bling is your thing) plus rotating cocktail tables, leather stools, and a parasol – perfect for that sunset in Malibu. There is also a custom Montblanc pen in the glove compartment and his-and-hers BOVET 1822 timepieces, which can be used as wristwatches, desk clocks, or pocket watches.

car with boot open

The Boat Tail on display took four years from concept to completion, with the close involvement of its owner. It is also the second offering from Rolls-Royce Coachbuild, inaugurated in 2017 with the launch of the dramatic Sweptail, which evoked memories of the dramatic grand touring cars of the 1930s. Rolls-Royce say that Coachbuild, an invitation-only service for its top clients, is designed to satiate the appetite of clients who want to commission and curate personalised cars – described by the marque as ‘the automotive equivalent of haute couture’.

Read more: The eco-art organisation making a stand at Frieze

As Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Otvös commented to the gathered connoisseurs and collectors at the launch, the Boat Tail is ‘the most ambitious commission we have ever undertaken, in terms of technical complexity, innovative bespoke detailing and sheer creative audacity’.

The company is planning on releasing a coachbuilt car every two years, with the next two editions already in advances stages of creation and production. We suggest anyone who is interested in becoming a client buys a few Phantoms, Ghosts and Cullinans in the next few months, and works their way onto the invitation-only list from there. See you at Lake Como.

Find out more: rolls-roycemotorcars.com

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woman looking at a painting
woman looking at a painting

Bellini’s Pietà at the Museo Poldi Pezzoli, which Beretta helped restore

The role of philanthropy has never been more urgent, and is reflected in our ongoing online series. Here, Umberta Beretta outlines her work around women’s rights and art for the many

Beretta was born into a family of prominent industrialists in northern Italy and is married to Franco Beretta, who leads the famed gunmakers. For the past two decades she has been active in fund-raising for numerous non-profit organisations and foundations with a focus on art, including her work for the Italian pavilion at the 2017 Venice Biennale and the Museo Poldi Pezzoli in Milan; medical charities, including cancer research through the Fondazione Beretta, of which she is a board member, and the Essere Bambino foundation; and on social causes such as campaigning against violence against women. The Beretta family’s involvement in art is notable also for Christo’s 2016 project The Floating Piers, which connected the shore of Lake Iseo with the island of San Paolo, owned by the Berettas, with fabric-covered walkways.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: Where did your interest in philanthropy in the arts come from?
Umberta Beretta: I have always had an interest in the arts. My father Giorgio Gnutti often took me to museums or when visiting artists’ studios. My grandmother (on my mother’s side) pushed me to do volunteer work. Art is my passion and the time I dedicate to less fortunate people or causes is my way of giving back.

woman by a swimming pool

Umberta Beretta photographed by Lady Tarin

LUX: Which art projects are exciting you?
Umberta Beretta: The past year has been very complicated and frustrating, but I very much look forward to the Venice Biennale [due to take place 23 April to 27 November 2022] curated by Cecilia Alemani. I admire women who do well in the arts. My hometown of Brescia and Bergamo will be Italian Capital of Culture in 2023, so we are planning a series of cultural activities and that’s quite exciting.

LUX: How important are private and philanthropic support for the arts?
Umberta Beretta: They’re both crucial. In Italy this still has yet to be fully understood. Individuals should be given more tax incentives [to donate]. But it is in our culture to promote beauty so against all odds I think Italy will always be a motor for the arts.

Man and woman standing in front of artwork

Beretta with the Ghanaian artist Ibrahim Mahama

LUX: How has the pandemic affected the arts in Italy?
Umberta Beretta: Tourists will always come to visit our museums. What concerns me most is the impact the pandemic will have on young, lesser-known artists, whose opportunities have frozen. And the same can be said for emerging fashion designers.

Read more: Meet the new generation of artisanal producers

LUX: What else can be done to support women’s rights?
Umberta Beretta: We can start by educating our children. I try with my son every day. All boys should be taught to respect women and all girls should be taught to demand respect. Women have the right to express themselves freely like men. In the art world, for example, women should be free to express their views on sexuality without scaring the public away. In everyday life they should be able to be mothers and have a career at the same time.

man and woman in artist's studio

Beretta with the artist Christo in his New York studio

LUX: What project has pleased you most?
Umberta Beretta: Definitely Christo’s Floating Piers. Winning the Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award in 2015 for Italy. Restoring some of the masterpieces of the Museo Poldi Pezzoli through the Restoration Club… I could go on.

For more information, visit: umbertagnuttiberetta.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 Issue. 

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Reading time: 3 min
luxurious hotel suite with arched ceiling

luxurious hotel suite with arched ceiling

Suite “Antonia” features the building’s original high-vaulted stone ceilings

Occupying a restored masseria – farmhouse – on a quiet street in the historic town of Lecce, Puglia, La Fiermontina is a five-star hotel with a homely, boutique feel. LUX discovers its quiet charm

Arrival

Like many beautiful Italian cities, Lecce has an unprepossessing ring of suburbs. But drive through an archway and a magical vision appears like an ancient Roman city, even more mesmerising at night, still and lit by gentle oranges and yellows on the ochre walls.

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Past the arch and La Fiermontina is down a quiet street. Walk up a stone staircase lit by uplighters into a walled courtyard, turn into the reception area, and then exit again to wander in a garden enclosed by the hotel’s ancient buildings and the old city walls. The light from the sky and the garden lighting is otherworldly.

The Room

Our suite was reached via a short staircase (there is a lift also, but it seemed a bit inauthentic) and seemed to span two buildings, old and new. The huge terrace balcony looked out over the courtyard, from where gentle jazz wafted up each evening. The bedroom had a vaulted ceiling and light stone walls, with contemporary furniture, art books and little clutter. If there is a more compelling bedroom in the whole of Italy, we would love to see it.

The Experience

We arrived on a weekday evening, slightly frazzled after flying in, renting a car and navigating the racetrack/autostrada for the hour’s drive. (Taking a taxi, easily arranged by the hotel, might be a better option next time.)

Read more: The Best of Tuscany’s Wine Resorts

Walking down from the room in search of the bar and a bite, we came across an enchanting sight. The hotel holds occasional evenings for locals and guests to sample regional beers and wines, and local cuisine in a buffet style. Puglia has been acclaimed for its wines but what is less known is that it’s part of Italy’s microbrewery revolution as well. It was hard to choose between the local beer and a local chardonnay. For the cuisine, we chose from a giant pan of pasta with sausage and melted cheese, and some antipasti.

Choices made, sit at your table in the gardens, under the olive grove near the pool, next to the walls of the ancient city, listen to the jazz and you feel far from the airport transfer.

restaurant with outdoor tables

The hotel’s outdoor restaurant focuses on local, seasonal produce

Exploring

The hotel is in the heart of the most compelling city where you can wander through the latticework of ancient streets. You can get a guide or allow your instincts to guide you. Doing the latter, we stumbled upon a hidden square with a single restaurant and terrace where lunch turned into an after-lunch digestif and into an early evening aperitif.

Verdict

The most mesmerising way to stay in one of Italy’s most interesting cities, and with a homegrown, not a big chain feel. Exquisite.

Find out more: lafiermontina.com/hotel

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.

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Reading time: 2 min
entrance to villa
tuscan landscape

Dievole is surrounded by the endless green and gold hills of Tuscan legend. Photograph by Marco Badiani

The second half of our journey through Tuscany takes us to Dievole, a luxurious wine resort in the heart of the region’s famous rolling hills

Where

On a ridge surrounded by vineyards, olive groves and forests, in a wild part of Tuscany just 20 minutes’ drive from Siena.

The arrival

Dievole is surrounded by the endless green and gold hills of Tuscan legend. Arriving from Florence, you divert south towards Siena and turn northeast along a winding country lane, great houses appearing suddenly on hilltops, wild boars popping out of the vineyards. This is not a highly touristed part of Tuscany, you feel you are a visitor among locals, yet it is easy to get to Siena and the villages on the Chiantigiana trail. The last part of the journey takes you down a dust track to a tidy car park at the back of imposing stone buildings; there is also an old chapel opposite the pleasant reception office.

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italian villa

The Dievole winery and hotel. Photograph by Alexandra Korey

The views

This is deepest northern Tuscany, the land of Chianti and olives. The hotel’s main pool has an infinity edge overlooking vineyards and a forest in the valley; forest and vineyard extend for miles up ridges and down dells. There is another pool of equal size on the other side of the hotel. Above the pools and below the main buildings are grassy gardens where you can sit and have lunch or a drink on a wonderfully casual scattering of garden furniture. The formal terrace, for breakfast and dinner, sits behind one of the gardens and has a symphony of cicadas at night time.

Read more: Professor Peter Newell on why the wealthy need to act on climate change

The rooms

Modern Tuscan chic without trying too hard: high ceilings, plenty of marble and space. Some rooms have the same views as the pool, others look more inwards, but all are generous, genuine, authentic and light.

entrance to villa

views of vineyards and hills

The entrance to the villa (top) with views across the estate’s vineyards vineyards and the northern Tuscan landscape. Photographs by Alexandra Korey

Wining and dining

Breakfast is the standard Italian luxury fare of a buffet biased towards fruits and cheeses. Lunch was our favourite meal here, just sitting at a table on the lawn above the low wall, beyond which the ground dropped down into the valley below. The nearest other guest was 20 metres away; indeed, Dievole is a magnificent place for not feeling on top of anyone. For lunch, our favourite pick was a grilled turkey breast with a salad of local tomatoes, whose punchy flavours went with the flavours of the air.

Within a 20km radius of Dievole are some of the top wineries of the region and the hotel’s relaxed, professional staff seemed happy for us to sample their wares during lunch. Dievole’s own wines are served at the restaurant during dinner. Not as famous or profound as other local wines, theirs were well priced and a good accompaniment to the food.

The highlight

The views changing colour and texture daily; and the staff, who made things run beautifully without ever falling into the old Italian trap of getting in the way too much. Tuscany for true connoisseurs.

LUX rating: 9/10

Book your stay: dievole.it

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2021 issue.

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designer in his studio
designer in his studio

Brunello Cucinelli in his study

Brunello Cucinelli has built a multibillion-euro clothing empire out of nothing and revived an impoverished community in central Italy. The king of cashmere speaks with Darius Sanai about responsibility, humanitarian capitalism and learning from the Persian empire

Brunello Cucinelli cuts a suave figure with a sweep of silver-dark hair, sitting on a chair behind a large table. The initial view on the Zoom call is wide angle, taken from a camera across the room, a huge space with cathedral-like ceilings. This is his famous office, in the restored medieval village of Solomeo that is now home to his company.

Behind him as far as the eye can see are bookshelves. Not the pretentiously prearranged shelves of politicians preened to show where their interests lie, or the by-the-yard, untouched bookshelves of an oligarch. These are shelves from which the books have plainly been taken in and out, referred to constantly. Some books are standing up, others are at a diagonal, others on their side in piles next to gaps.

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There seems to be a lot of history, philosophy, art and photography from what I can make out when the camera zooms in a bit closer to him. To his left, slightly incongruously, is a bowl of what look like basketballs.

Cucinelli is no ordinary Italian fashion magnate. He may be the founder of a family company with 7,000 employees and a turnover of €200m, but during the course of our 90-minute conversation and interview he barely once touched on the subject of the garment industry, merchandising or marketing.

The son of an impoverished factory worker, Cucinelli started his company in 1978, and is now synonymous with highly contemporary cashmere.

italian villa

italian estate

The Scuola dei Mestieri (top) and the valley below Solomeo (above)

He is also something else: an old-fashioned benevolent capitalist (he calls it “humanitarian capitalism”), driven by civic duty as much as profit, in the mould of the Cadburys and Heskeths of Victorian Britain who built housing, hospitals and churches for their workers.

He has used millions of his own funds to build his company’s headquarters and factory in what was the declining hamlet of Solomeo, south of Florence. He has built schools and a theatre, restored the 12th-century church, and revived the local wine and food artisans.

Read more: Artists in residence at Castel Caramel in the south of France

In our opening chat, he was more interested in engaging with me about my namesake Persian king and his relative, Cyrus the Great. This was no PR-manufactured pillow talk either – Cucinelli is an avid self-taught polymath in philosophy and history and his citations, darting between philosophers of different eras and cultures, were more than a match for this Oxford University-trained philosopher.

But in the era where the private sector’s role in and responsibility for people and the planet have never been more important, it was this fundamental aspect of his business, humanitarian capitalism, that we engaged on.

menswear campaign

The spring 2021 menswear campaign was shot in the Sibillini Mountains in central Italy

LUX: Why did you choose cashmere for your business?
Brunello Cucinelli: I decided overnight to do cashmere. I didn’t know anything about this kind of material, but I knew one thing for sure – I wanted a product that you would never throw away but hand down to the next generation. I loved this idea of being able to act
as a guardian and of something you can reuse and hand down. It is a very contemporary idea, but I was there years ago. I wanted to work with cashmere, because it never gets thrown away. And I wanted to make a profit, but a fair one with a fair relationship to giving back. I wanted it to be made with ethics, dignity and respect for the moral code. And I didn’t want to bring harm to anything that was around me.

LUX: You began following these principles years ago and they are now common in corporate culture. What has changed?
Brunello Cucinelli: I have always wanted my employees to earn a bit more than the average, and for them to work in beautiful surroundings. I also decided they should work only for eight hours a day, the German way if you wish. I didn’t want them to be working online after work or at the weekends but to be extremely focused during the day. I wanted to achieve this balance so that you can have enough time for your mind, and then time to work, and I wanted to promote the idea of living in harmony with everything around you, with other people, with the land, with the water, with the air.

Read more: Speaking with America’s new art icon Rashid Johnson

LUX: How can a business find time to be both profitable and responsible, because many businesses would focus just on profit?
Brunello Cucinelli: To be credible, you must be truthful both when things are going well and not going well. Everybody knows about the profit that your company makes, and everybody must be put in a position to earn a fair amount. This is a responsibility towards other people, towards wildlife, towards the land. Here, we grow our grain, our olives, our wine; it all goes into the company canteen, but we don’t call this ‘organic produce’, we just say this is produce grown with respect to nature.

LUX: How does this philosophy add to the future of the company?
Brunello Cucinelli: I believe that young people will increasingly want to know where and how a product has been made, what harm if any has been caused during the production process. If they find out that a preposterous profit has been made out of something, they will decide not to buy a specific product. Profit must be balanced and fair, where every link in the chain each makes their own profit, from the shepherd with the goats to the investors and the bankers, to the workers, everybody. When I went public, I said to the potential investors that if you want a company that is making a fair profit and also helping the local community, then you can invest in my company. But if you are looking for a company that delivers fast growth, then this one is not for you.

public monument

The monument ‘Tribute to Human Dignity’

LUX: Does your philosophy only apply to your company or could others learn from you?
Brunello Cucinelli: There are 7,000 people in the company, with 2,000 direct employees and 5,000 subcontractors or indirect people who work with us and we make a normal profit. Even in 2020, we only had a 10 per cent dip in our revenues and you still saw my workers going out of their way to design the best collections ever because probably it is precisely in a time of sorrows and pain that you release your creativity. It is definitely possible to make a profit and at the same time respect human dignity. Even in my own life, for example, I’ve always told the banks managing my assets that they need to invest them in companies that respect the human being.

Read more: The rise of millennial art collectors

LUX: What is the future of physical stores compared to online retail?
Brunello Cucinelli: E-commerce is extremely important for the brand image, but physical stores are just as important, if not more so. I want to go in a physical store, I want to be met by a caring salesperson who may ask after me and my family, and I want to see and touch things with my own eyes and hands. And especially after this pandemic, we are craving physicality. Jeff Bezos, who was here visiting, said that with Amazon he is not able to create emotions; he is basically just providing a service and when you receive your parcel at home, you own it, whereas when you go into a store you have this human exchange with the salesperson. They are both important worlds.

LUX: Would you have sold your company to the likes of François Pinault or Bernard Arnault if they had offered to buy it?
Brunello Cucinelli: We are majority shareholders of the company and I like very much the idea of this being a company with the family involved because this has always been my dream. Being public in the Italian way is different to the American idea – for us having a company is like nurturing your own child. I feel protected by the fact that we are a public company because this way you need to be able to listen to those who might give you advice, investors, analysts.

womenswear fashion campaign

The spring 2021 womenswear campaign

LUX: With cashmere, what is more important, the design or the quality?
Brunello Cucinelli: Both. I have always wanted to procure the best quality material. Although I didn’t know anything at all about cashmere at the very beginning, I just went out there and said I want the best quality available. I’ve always tried to pursue quality and craftsmanship, first and foremost. It is something I never sacrifice and when you wear a garment that we have made I want you to know of all the people who have worked for it. But it must also be a very modern product because quality is not enough by itself. For example, when I was younger, I was looking at the UK because of the way they knitted their cashmere sweaters, but I wanted fresher colours, more pop colours. Taste is important as well as quality, otherwise you would not have a contemporary product.

LUX: What was your biggest challenge in all the time you have run your company?
Brunello Cucinelli: I would say March 2020, because overnight we had to make huge decisions such as not to lay off anybody, and to maintain everyone’s salaries. Nor did we ask for any discounts from our suppliers or landlords because this is not the way we behave, and especially in a pandemic. We also made sure that all the excess goods that were left in the store because of the closures were donated. My structure nowadays is even stronger than what it was a year ago because we were able to do everything sooner than expected. I have written to my employees, thanking them for what they have contributed to the company in this tough time, and tomorrow I’m meeting them in a video call just to thank them. It has been a very poignant time, one that has been hard both on our body and on our soul but at the same time, from the spiritual point of view, I would also call it one of the best times.

LUX: Our magazine works with a lot of artists. Do you work with many artists or support the arts around the world?
Brunello Cucinelli: I have always been surrounded by young, creative people and I have always liked them. The first thing I look for in a human being is their soul, as they must be kindred souls. I have always believed in a universal humanism regardless of race and religion. I’m a bit like Cyrus the Great, so to speak, and I am also convinced that if you show a human being esteem, regard and dignity, they will pay you back with great creativity.

Find out more: brunellocucinelli.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.

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Reading time: 9 min
oak barrels of wine
man standing by wine bottles

Axel Heinz is a winemaker and the estate director of Ornellaia and Masseto

Axel Heinz is Italy’s most celebrated winemaker, responsible for star Super Tuscan wines Masseto and Ornellaia, among others. Over three vintages and on Zoom, he gives Darius Sanai a private tasting and insight into what makes his estates, by the Tuscan coast, so special

If you were to meet Axel Heinz without knowing his trade, you would likely guess that he is a university professor, an academic of some kind criss-crossing his way through a cosmopolitan spiderweb of colleges. His conversation has an international feel of the old school: his perfect, lightly-accented English is pure boarding school, his manner is enquiring, sharp and kindly, all at the same time.

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But Axel is not an academic, although his knowledge base and expertise would instantly see him propelled to a professorship in his relevant field. He is a winemaker, and now estate director of Ornellaia and Masseto. This means this German winemaker with an English education and French roots is responsible for the creation of two of the greatest wines our readers will know, at arguably the greatest wines estate of Italy, and among the greatest in the world. Neighbouring each other, they sit on a slight plateau sloping down to the coast of the Maremma, in Tuscany; you can see the sea from the vineyards. Behind are the forested mountains of the Colline Metallifere, which bring a coolness and freshness to the summer nights, a little like the forest leading up to the plateau de Langres does for the Cote de Nuits in Burgundy (although the Colline are higher, at more than 1000m compared to around 600m for the high ridge in Burgundy).

We always enjoy our private dinners with the ever personable, thoughtful Axel. In the current climate, we sat down with him for a tasting, one-to-one over zoom, with him at the estate in Bolgheri in the Maremma and us at the LUX office in London, of some of the great vintages of Ornellaia, sent to us directly from the estate. Below are his detailed thoughts on each wine, followed by our own reflections.

wine bottles

Ornellaia 2018 La Grazia Vendemmia d’Artista with label designs and artworks by Belgian artist Jan Fabre

Ornellaia 2018

Axel Heinz: I always like to taste youngest to oldest, so you know how the younger wines will develop. 2018 was a rainy year, so the wine is a bit lighter than usual, balanced and fresh. I like to use a narrower glass than most sommeliers recommend; not too wide, in order to get the best from the wine. This seems a particularly open, vibrant wine. It’s already quite delicious, even so young. I would have it with a rare bistecca alla fiorentina (Tuscan T-bone steak).

LUX: Zingy and fresh; if your idea of Tuscan wines is big, punchy beasts, think again. Quite delicate, balanced, and complex with cherries and bags of mixed herbs. Refreshing, for a super Tuscan.

Read more: How will the art industry change post-pandemic?

Ornellaia 2008

Axel Heinz: This was an astonishing vintage. It was incredibly hot all year and then there was a dramatic drop in temperature from 38 degrees to 18 degrees and it stayed that cool all through the second half of September and all of October. It means the wine has the boldness and exuberance of a very hot year, combined with the tight frame which indicates the weather in the second half of September.

The wine is 15% alcohol, but one of the pieces of magic of Bolgheri [the area where Ornellaia and Masseto are made] is that it is rich and opulent but also balanced, with refreshing acidity and a bit of firmness. It’s a privilege that we have something that saves us, which is the closeness of the sea and the cool air. Because if it were just about us keeping the alcohol level down, you would notice some under-ripeness. That’s the beauty of this place. And the refreshing acidity is part of the terroir..which means there are a few things about making wine that we are unable to explain. It may come from our closeness to the sea or the hills behind us that catch moisture and coolness.

LUX: Rich and multilayered, but still fresh; unlike other Tuscan wines from this year, it doesn’t taste of alcohol or jam. A wine for a long, stimulating, thoughtful evening with an old friend you haven’t seen for years – but with the ease at which it disappears, you will need a couple of bottles.

Wine estate

The Ornellaia wine estate

Ornellaia 2000

Axel Heinz: This is similar in character to the 2018, so maybe the 2018 will taste like this in 18 years. This is all about lace and silk, delicacy. I would drink it with something not overpowering, maybe mushrooms or something slow-cooked. It’s ready to drink now, but great wines plateau for a long time.

LUX: A dual-character wine, easy to drink if you feel like something that just vanishes from the glass, but interesting if you want to think about it, with that unique Ornellaia character, fresh, herbs and grilled lamb overtones, and very clean, neither too dry nor too jammy on the finish. Like the others, a unique style of wine, first made only a couple of decades ago, but destined to be one of the world’s great wines for centuries to come.

Find out more: ornellaia.com

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Reading time: 4 min
Man standing against pillar
Man standing against pillar

Matteo Lunelli, CEO & President of Ferrari Trento

Italian sparkling wine producer Ferrari Trento was founded in 1902 and is now under the leadership of the third generation of the Lunelli family. Following the recent announcement of the brand’s partnership with Formula 1, LUX speaks to CEO and President Matteo Lunelli about respecting tradition, sustainability and the challenges of the pandemic

1. How do you become Official Toast of Formula 1, as Ferrari Trento has just become?

Ferrari Trento has already been celebrated at many of the world’s most prestigious events. This includes being the Official Toast of the Emmy Awards in Los Angeles for the past five years and of the BNL International Tennis Tournament in Rome in 2019. The Formula 1 podium is one of the most iconic moments in the world of sport and has been a dream of ours for a long time which we are thrilled to now see come true. Formula 1 chose Ferrari Trento, firstly, because we share common values of passion and excellence, and also because Formula 1 is centred around innovation and looking to the future. This can be seen through this decision to go “beyond” the traditional choice of champagne, with a brand that not only offers a guarantee of quality but is also an ambassador of Italian style. We are thrilled to embark on this project as we strongly believe in the future of Ferrari Trento and in the dream that Giulio Ferrari, our founder, started over a century ago.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

2. You are the third generation of the Lunelli family to keep Ferrari Trento alive, and you have maintained many historic practices within the company. Are there any notable traditions that you needed to let go of?

Our goal is to innovate, but respect traditions. There are certain things that will never change at Ferrari Trento like the pursuit of excellence in every detail and the intimate link with our territory, because all our wines are made exclusively with grapes cultivated on the slopes of the Trentino mountains. On the other hand, we need to adapt to a market and a context that changes rapidly and, therefore, we constantly aim to innovate our business model. Over the years we have embraced digital media in our communication strategy, we have expanded to new markets abroad in order to grow our export sales, and we have moved to organic viticulture, putting strong emphasis on sustainable production.

Formula 1 sparkling wine

Ferrari Trento is the official sparkling wine of F1

3. Ferrari’s Trentodoc sparkling wines utilise environmentally friendly systems which heavily reduces water-consumption in vineyards. Is the wine-industry more broadly taking steps to become more sustainable? Should it do more?

We can certainly say that in the past few years the wine industry has significantly increased its attention to sustainability and I believe that this trend will continue even more in the future. This is especially important for high end consumers and wine lovers who not only look for excellent wines but also ask our companies to maintain an excellent behaviour towards stakeholders and to protecting the environment.

Specifically, the Ferrari winery is located in such a wonderful location that we feel even more duty to protect it and preserve it for future generations. Our strong commitment towards sustainability can be seen (amongst other actions), by the organic certification of all our estate vineyards and by the work carried out on biodiversity. Regarding water, as you mentioned, we utilise an innovative system of precision irrigation in order to reduce water waste. This system, developed together with a start-up called Blue Tentacles, uses a remote control to open and close the valves on the field, and optimise the use of water collecting data of the temperature and humidity through sensors located in vineyards.

Read more: Sophie Neuendorf on building a more sustainable art world

4. What are the biggest challenges that the sparkling wine industry faces today?

Sparkling wines are traditionally associated with conviviality and celebrations, which is the opposite of “social distancing”, and why the pandemic had such a strong impact on our industry. In addition, on trade is the most important channel for the Lunelli Group, and bars, hotels and restaurants being closed for such a long time in many countries has of course had an inevitable impact on our sales. We partially compensated the loss of the “outside of home” by increasing our retail and online sales for domestic consumption, however, we strongly believe that conviviality will soon come back, and we look forward to celebrations where people can spend time together again.

Vineyards

Ferrari Trento’s vineyards

5. Is Italian sparkling wine underrated?

Italian sparkling wine has witnessed an extraordinary growth worldwide in the past years, but I would say that sometimes the quality and excellence of Italian sparkling wine is underrated. Most consumers still do not fully recognise the diversity of our sparkling wine denominations which are made in different regions and with different methods.

It is by now evident between wine opinion leaders that in the sparkling wine space, just like in the still wine space, excellence is not a monopoly of one territory in the world. Italy, with the region of Trentino in particular, is in “pole position”, as shown by the results achieved at the Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships which saw Ferrari Trento crowned as the “Producer of the Year” for three editions. In 2019, Italy overtook France in terms of awarded medals, while in 2020 the competition saw a draw with 47 gold medals each. We hope to further excel the reputation of Italian fizz as we share our luxury wines on a wider scale than ever before through our partnership with Formula 1.

6. Where and when (apart from a F1 race) is the best place to drink your wine?

During a trip to Italy you can have a glass of Ferrari in some of the best bars and the most iconic travel destinations, however, first of all I would have to say in Trento, visiting our winery and enjoying what we call ‘a tour between beauty and taste’ on a lovely summers day, perhaps during harvest time. Here, we invite guests to have an all-round experience of the world of Ferrari, which begins with a tour of our cellars, where our Trentodoc wines mature gradually under the careful supervision of our winemakers. You can then go up the nearby hills to visit Villa Margon a 16th century mansion which is a treasure of art. The special experience concludes at Locanda Margon, our Michelin starred restaurant in the heart of our vineyards, where you can pair Ferrari with the creations of chef Edoardo Fumagalli.

In general, I think that the best way to enjoy Ferrari is to pair it with high quality food in a great restaurant or during an “aperitivo” with friends. I also love to think about sipping our Trentodoc bubbles whilst watching the sun set onboard a boat in the middle of the sea. However, more than anything, what will make the special moment is always who you will share your wine and emotions with.

Find out more: ferraritrento.com

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Reading time: 5 min
man in vineyard
man in vineyard

Lamberto Frescobaldi is the president of Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi

Lamberto Frescobaldi is the 30th generation (yes, you read that right) head of Florence’s Frescobaldi dynasty which has done everything from build bridges and palaces in Tuscany to create one of the world’s most epic wine groups. In the first of a new series on leaders in the wine world, the owner of Masseto, Luce, Ornellaia and many other wines chats to LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai over a tasting of the Frescobaldi’s flagship Luce wines

Lamberto Frescobaldi:

“Frescobaldi is a family that goes back to 1000 when they showed up in Tuscany, and then arrived in Florence around 1100, so from a little village out of Florence to Florence. Then a gentleman called, like me, Lamberto, in 1252, built the bridge where now is Ponte Santa Trinita, there is a little square called Piazza de’ Frescobaldi, for the bridge that he built there and he owned all the houses there.

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He comes up quite strongly under the light of Florence in that century. Then the Frescobaldi, began to do as many families of Florence did, they became bankers. Because in those days one of the things that was complicated was to ship money. Money was risky, has always been risky, and so funnily enough the first cheque ever invented was here in Florence by Francesco Datini, he invented the cheque, it was a revolution. Think of taking a piece of paper and writing a value! It was a total revolution.

vineyard estate

The Luce wine estate in Montalcino, Tuscany

And then they understand that it is important to move the paper, but not to move the money. So, the money was here and there. Then the Frescobaldi, around the 14th Century, they actually become important bankers through Europe. It was the aristocratic families of Europe, they were always fighting between each other. The Frescobaldi became bankers of the families of England. They actually moved to England, and they became very powerful because they were bankers of the king. And the king actually gave them the run, in Devonshire, of the silver mines. Then they became too famous and too powerful and then the king, I can’t remember which one, but he kicked them out of England. Then they came back to Florence, and from bankers they became farmers.

Read more: Durjoy Rahman on promoting South Asian art

wine cellars

Inside the Tenuta Luce cellars

So, long story short, I believe that my family have always been very forward-looking and innovative. And that is reflected in what happened with me and the Mondavi family (the legendary wine family of California, who have Italian origins). Around the mid 90s they show up in Italy, and they wanted to do something in Italy. They had moved from Italy 1908, and they went to America because Italy was a tough country in those days. And here they wanted to come back, and we got together, and there was again a beautiful relationship. This changed my way of doing my job, Mondavi opening up a window, a window opened giving me the opportunity to taste wines everywhere around the world. Sharing fears and also the beauty of producing a wine together. And now it is the 25th anniversary of Luce, the wine we created together.”

wine bottles

The Luce wine library

There follows a tasting of Luce wines, with Darius Sanai’s notes below each:

Luce 2013

A big, powerful, rich wine but also fresh and light, a remarkable combination. Plenty of fruit, plenty of tannin. I would drink this in five years with a pici al cingiale (thick Tuscan pasta with a wild boar ragu) on the terrace of the Villa San Michele above Florence at sunset.

wine bottle

Luce 2017

Luce 2006

Less power, more softness, an almost gentle wine but with a long backdrop of olive groves, fading into the olfactory distance. One to drink while perched on the old city wall of Montalcino, looking over the Colline Metallifere hills towards the sea hidden beyond, and across the endless forest.

Luce 2002

An almost gentle red wine, belying the Tuscan reputation for producing big reds. Yet there’s a persistence of dried berry, vanilla, and the kinds of herbs you sprinkle on pizzas that make it very moreish. A lunchtime wine, on the Piazza del Campo in Siena, looking at the people wandering past as another day disappears.

Luce 1998

Wow. You wouldn’t believe this wine is older than this millennium. Both powerful and zingy, it has a different character to the others, fascinating to see what can happen as great red wines age. Peppers, cherries, and also a waft of Bistecca alla Fiorentina, beautifully balanced. One to drink over dinner, in late autumn, in your Florentine palace, with your loved one; and like the Frescobaldis, I think this wine will last forever.

Thank you to Lamberto Frescobaldi for his time and the wines for this tasting.

For more information, visit: en.lucedellevite.com

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Reading time: 4 min
yellow sportscar

Lamborghini Huracán EVO RWD

In the second part of our supercar series, LUX drives the new and improved Lamborghini Huracán EVO RWD

Amid the current debate about cultural appropriation, we have a theory that many of the best things in life come from cultural mingling – which is not quite the same thing. Anyone who has visited the region of Alto Adige in northern Italy, which has been swapped between France and Austria over the centuries, will understand Italian culture and cuisine combined with Austrian efficiency creating a whole new world of design and lifestyle? Yes, please.

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We have a theory that the same thing has happened at Lamborghini. This is, on the face of it, the most extrovert and Italian of carmakers. Its logo is a raging bull, created specifically to annoy Enzo Ferrari and his prancing horse. Its cars are not only era-defining design classics (look at the 1960s Miura, which featured in The Italian Job) or the crazy 1980s Countach. They are also, traditionally, loud (visually and aurally), outrageously designed inside, have posing value beyond any other car no matter what the price, and go very fast, if you can handle them.

But this was not all good. Perhaps you wanted something with a soul of a Lamborghini, which didn’t attract a crowd of onlookers every time you drove it. And perhaps you wanted something that you would actually look forward to driving, rather than bracing yourself for a task.

The calming influence on Lamborghini’s hairy-chest nature came in the form of the Volkswagen group, which acquired the company in 1998. Lamborghinis have had a reputation for being better built, more reliable and easier to use since then. But they have also started moving towards the other extreme of becoming efficient. You might have driven the previous model Huracán across Europe, for example, with great satisfaction, but would it have stirred your loins like a previous Lamborghini? The best cultural cocktails are a perfect combination of ingredients, and an alchemy creating something else out of the whole.

Read more: Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem on the importance of championing artists

And this is where the RWD comes in. Lamborghini have taken their current Huracán EVO and taken away the drive from the front wheels, so the previously four-wheel-drive car is just two-wheel drive. They have also reduced the weight, made it more aerodynamically efficient, and, marginally, reduced the power. And they have reduced the price – although that is not likely to be very important to this market.

The reason behind this is to create a car that is not just brilliant on paper, striking to look at and efficient, but to create a car that stirs the soul. The ‘digital’ nature of some of today’s supercars is a reason why some models from 10 or 20 years ago have been going up in value. This Lamborghini is a more analogue car.

back of sportscar

The difference is evident even in the first low-speed corner. You are connected to the steering in a way you are not with its 4WD sibling. Approaching some higher speed corners once out of town, you feel a far clearer weight transfer to the back of the car and, on exiting the corner, you feel your acceleration is pushing the rear wheels out and helping you around the corner. And the steering is not interfered with by any tugging from power going to the front wheels at the same time as you are trying to steer. It sounds a little, but it means a lot. Suddenly, you are driving the car, rather than overseeing something that more or less drives itself.

The Huracán is old school in that it features a V10 engine, with no help from turbochargers or an electric motor. And given that typically these cars are driven short distances over their lifetimes, it will probably emit less CO2 than the average family car. Which is not to say that cars like these save the planet any more than they are not guilty of sacrificing it either.

Lecture over, on to the all-important Lamborghini feature of looks. Ours came in a spiffing shade of matt purple. It garnered stares from bystanders rather than a crowd of them like some Lambo models. If it’s attention you crave, better get an Aventador, this car’s big sister. If it’s driving pleasure, buy one of these.

It gets one of the highest ratings of any car we have ever tested. And if it had even more feedback to the steering, and even more dramatic looks (we like that kind of thing), it would receive a perfect 20.

LUX rating: 19.5/20

Find out more: lamborghini.com

This article originally appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2020/2021 Issue. 

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Reading time: 4 min
public sculptures
public sculptures

Installation view of Looking Up, Helaine Blumenfeld’s exhibition at Canary Wharf 2020. Photo © Sean Pollock

Helaine Blumenfeld OBE is best known for her large-scale public sculptures whose undulating, ethereal forms evoke a sense of fragility and movement, transforming the environments into which they are placed. In the light of a major exhibition of her works at Canary Wharf, Digital & Art Editor Millie Walton speaks to the artist about working intuitively, the importance of touch and how public art brings people together

LUX: What’s your creative process like? Do you follow a routine, or need a particular atmosphere to create?
Helaine Blumenfeld: I think I have quite an unusual creative process which has changed in a few ways over the years, but essentially, it has always been a process of trying to coordinate what I am feeling and thinking with what I am doing with my hands. That has taken a very long time. Now, when I go into the studio, I am able to disconnect from everything that is going on around me. Francis Bacon used to say that to release that [creative] energy he would either need to be drugged or drunk or both, to allow him to enter into a kind of trance state. I can go into that state, happily, without drugs. For me, it is a state of being. I go into the studio, close the door, and I am there.

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I don’t really look at the work whilst I am making. I take clay and I just keep adding to it or taking away. I have no plan of what I am going to do; I have no drawings. I just communicate with it, and that is how I have worked almost from the very beginning.

I had been working on a doctorate of philosophy, and I could never find the exact words I wanted, but when I made the very first piece in clay, I just thought: ‘This is just incredible! Did I really just do this?’ It was a talent that I had never understood I had, and yet it was so clear. Every piece I made in those early days was a wonder to me and then, we moved back to England from Paris and during the move, some of the pieces got broken. I thought I’ll never be able to do anything like that again.

Now, I do not have that feeling; I see it more as a process. There is a communication between what I am in terms of experience, and the work, and if one piece is interrupted or breaks or collapses, the next piece will follow it.

woman with sculpture

Helaine Blumenfeld with one of her sculptures. Photo © Sean Pollock

LUX: You mentioned that you were studying philosophy – when did you start making art?
Helaine Blumenfeld: I always had these amazing dreams that I could never seem to translate. The only way that I knew was words, and yet, to have an incredible dream and then to use words is so bizarre because it is a completely different language. For a while, philosophy seemed like the right method for my expression, but I was never satisfied. When I discovered sculpture and began to understand what very simple forms could communicate, I decided I wanted to be a sculptor.

I think that being an artist is not just about having something to communicate, but also finding the right way to communicate it, and if you don’t, you can be frustrated. Discovering sculpture opened up the whole world to me.

small abstract sculpture

Helaine Blumenfeld, Exodus V, 2019, Photo © Henryk Hetflaisz

LUX: Was lockdown a creative time for you?
Helaine Blumenfeld: Well my main studio is in Italy, so I have not been able to go back at all. In fact, because I had this very big show [Looking Up] in Canary Wharf, I was meant to go back before we had finished the installation to bring back two pieces that I had not quite finished, but my husband said not to go. It was lucky that he did because otherwise I would have spent the whole lockdown without my family.

In the end, we managed to get the entire show of 40 pieces up at Canary Wharf just two days before lockdown. The opening, which didn’t happen, was intended to be the day of lockdown. When I went back to Cambridge, I was suddenly aware of the virus and what it was doing, which I hadn’t been, and the first two weeks were very anxious. I thought I would have contracted it because I had been working with so many people, including one of my assistants from Italy who had come over, and whose wife had the virus. But after that period, and I think a few artists will tell you the same, it was one of the happiest periods in my whole life. No pressures from the outside world, no commitments, no engagements, no travelling back and forth to Italy, which I normally would do for two weeks here and two weeks there. I was with my husband all the time which I hadn’t been since the beginning of our marriage. And I had clay; I had all the clay I needed. I was working, and I have done more work in the period of lockdown than I have in the last three years I think. So, yes it has been immensely creative.

Read more: Confined Artists Free Spirits – artists photographed in lockdown by Maryam Eisler

LUX: Do you ever start a sculpture and decide to abandon it if it’s not working?
Helaine Blumenfeld: There are different ways of working. Someone like [Constantin] Brâncuși, who I admire enormously as an artist, was held back by his own sense of perfection. Each piece had to reach what he wanted, and it never did, so he would have to abandon and try again. He was tied to certain ideas, whereas I believe that each piece is as good as it can be. I work through the idea rather than trying to get it right in that particular piece. As I said, I never have a clear idea of where I am going or a vision that I need to achieve; the vision comes in the piece.

large scale public sculpture

Helaine Blumenfeld, Taking Risks, 2018, Photo © Henryk Hetflaisz

LUX: That sounds very liberating.
Helaine Blumenfeld: In sculpture, the gesture can be completely yours. When I am working, I don’t look at what I’m doing I feel it intuitively as it happens. Very often when I am in Italy, I finish something in clay and I cover it and wrap it with wet cloth, and then when I go back, I have no idea what I am going to find. I have never seen it objectively or critically, I have just seen it intuitively. When I do unwrap it, then sometimes I will say  ‘Oh, that doesn’t work’, and I won’t go on with it. At that moment, I am really seeing with a critical eye. It’s like seeing your lover in another way from the corner of your eye or a different angle which allows you to seem them objectively for a moment. When I come back to the work, I am able to see it objectively, and at that moment, I know intellectually whether or not it is working.

It is a bit of a different process if I want to do a large piece, however, because when I am working, I have no armature or inner support system. If I had that I would know exactly what I was going to do because the inner structure would dictate what I was going to make. Without that structure, the sculpture is initially incredibly fragile and if it is going to last, I need to have it cast in plaster quickly. Then, when I know the forms, I don’t feel the same resistance to having an armature. At that point, I have an assistant who will mechanically enlarge the piece for me with a proper armature and leave it in a rough state for me to take over. It does happen when I think a piece is very good, but when the scale changes, it doesn’t work. I think that is a mistake that certain sculptors make, thinking that everything can be large when some pieces work better on a small, intimate scale.

small marble sculpture

Helaine Blumenfeld, Exodus IV, 2019, Photo © Henryk Hetflaisz

LUX: What role do you think public sculpture can play in urban environments such as Canary Wharf?
Helaine Blumenfeld: I think that sculpture, in general, in a public place, creates a private space for people to enjoy. In a way, it creates a space that people can claim ownership of. My idea is to somehow mediate between the personality and the mechanism of a landscape and to create something that is personal and that people can relate to. For example, my first public commission was in centre of a walkway, and I went around and had a look at how people used space. There was a gigantic sculpture there that people would walk around to avoid. Somehow the massiveness of it mirrored and competed with the architecture in a way. So, I decided to do a sculpture in five pieces, that people could walk in between and interact with that would be on a human scale, and it was such a success.

sculpture

Helaine Blumenfeld, Fortuna, 2016, Photo © Sean Pollock

public art

My piece Fortuna, which was put up in 2016, was originally meant to go to the new area of Wood Wharf. When it was finished, it was temporarily put into an area in Jubilee Park, and in a very short space of time, that area in the park was overwhelmed with people coming to interact with the sculpture. When word got around that it was going to be moved, people were horrified. That particular area was meant for changing exhibitions, but the piece remains there and people still go to see it.

Read more: American artist Rashid Johnson on searching for autonomy

Also, in that same area, there is a sculpture called Ascent. After lockdown when you could have groups of six, I went back to see the piece and they had made circles on the ground around it so people could sit in those circles and know that they were social distancing. On that lawn there were six different circles of people sitting. They obviously knew each other and they were celebrating something. I had gone there because wanted to photograph the piece. When I arrived, a man looked at us and said ‘Oh, I see that you want to photograph Ascent‘ which was amazing, that he even knew the name. He said ‘Let me show you the best view!’ He took me round to the side and in fact, it was my favourite view. My friend told him that I was the artist and he knew my name too. He announced to the group of people in their circles: ‘This is the artist’. Every person in that area stood up and clapped. It was like it had been an opening. He told me that he came to the sculpture every day and that it was his point of light in the darkness, it gave him some hope that things could be better. It was an amazing experience for me.

bronze public sculpture

Helaine Blumenfeld, Flight, 2019, Photo © Sean Pollock

LUX: Speaking of intimacy, you’ve said before that you like people to touch your sculptures. Why is that important for you?
Helaine Blumenfeld: Oh, I think it is vital for people to touch the work. I think we do not touch enough in our society. So much of our feeling and experience comes from touch. As babies, our world  is all about touch, but we are are losing that. Very early on I had a show with people from LightHouse for the Blind, and all they could do was touch. You would be astounded at what people could feel from touching a sculpture, another level of understanding, from just their hands.

You can see that people are entering into the sculptures where the bases have worn away. I often ask the children who are sitting inside, ‘What are you feeling?’ And they say something like, ‘I am in a secret forest and I am protected from all the things around me.’  It is lovely to see how a sculpture encourages imagination.

Often at public exhibitions, whether it is in a cathedral or in Canary Wharf, I see people discussing with each other, and they don’t know each other. ‘What do you see in it? What are you looking at?’ Not only does art introduce a huge audience to beauty, it is also allows people relate to something outside of themselves, it introduces them to another realm. I think that is an incredible way that art brings people together.

LUX: One final question: what’s inspiring or interesting you at the moment?
Helaine Blumenfeld:  It is hard for me to use the word inspiration; I feel incredibly moved. When an artist dreams a dream that is so deep within his own being, it is not just his dream, it is not just his pain, it is universal. That is what I hoped I was doing before, it was coming from within, but much of what I am doing now is coming from without. I am thinking about how people are trying to connect at this time, to reach out and see the perspective of other people. There is a much greater effort because we are all in this together. It has broken down that sense of isolation which I felt was leading to the precipice. So instead of expressing something deeply personal, I am trying to feel something that effects everyone. I think that is where the new work is going.

‘Looking Up’ by Helaine Blumenfeld runs at One Canada Square until 6 November 2020 and throughout Canary Wharf until 31 May 2020.

For more information visit: helaineblumenfeld.com

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Reading time: 11 min
ceramics on a table
ceramics on a table

Brunello Cucinelli’s Spring/Summer 2020 lifestyle collection includes handcrafted ceramic tableware

Brunello Cucinelli’s latest ceramic tableware collection evokes the warmth and rustic charm of rural Tuscany, says Chloe Frost Smith

Brunello Cucinelli’s Spring/Summer 2020 Lifestyle collection takes inspiration from natural forms, using traditional Italian handcrafted techniques to create a rustic mood that celebrates spontaneity and irregularity in texture, light and colour.

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The ‘Tradition’ ceramics are amongst the most beautiful pieces, combining ancient Umbrian pottery craftsmanship with striking modern shapes. Following an initial forming phase, each piece is fired three times and decorated by hand using the ‘engobe’ technique, a special application of clay coating used to achieve a light polished finish and delicate hues.

rustic ceramic set

The espresso set is amongst the highlights, comprising two dainty coffee cups balanced on saucers with asymmetrical edges, whilst the two-piece plate set features a swirling pattern reminiscent of the texture of a tree trunk.

Seemingly simplistic in design, the uneven lines create a sense of individuality throughout the collection, allowing diners to arrange the complementary pieces together or effortlessly style separately.

Find out more: brunellocucinelli.com

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Reading time: 1 min
luxurious restaurant interiors
Chefs wearing masks

Novikov 2 Go is a new service from the innovative Mayfair restaurant, offering tasting menus cooked, packaged and delivered to your door.

Novikov, the famed Mayfair restaurant, is now offering perfectly prepared cuisine from its Asian and Italian kitchens, delivered to your London home. Our Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai had to check it out

Your chef and brigade are back with you, thank goodness, being tested every day after a trying time in isolation during lockdown during which you had to try to fend for yourself.

But while her involtini di salmone con senape e marscapone is as divine as ever, you are missing the innovation, the intricacy, not to mention the vibe, of your favourite go-to restaurants.

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Enter Novikov 2 Go. A new service from the modern-legendary Mayfair restaurant, this involves the chefs creating a tasting menu of up to 15 dishes for you, your loved ones, and the guests you are inviting to sit in your garden (suitably physically distanced) and delivering it cooked, packaged, and ready to serve, at the time of your choosing.

luxurious restaurant interiors

Sliced steak

Above: The Italian restaurant at Novikov in Mayfair and below, Italian tagliata with rocket salad and Parmesan

We have been fans of Novikov ever since Russian dining maestro Arkady Novikov, who owns the Vogue café and Tatler Club in Moscow, came over to Mayfair to open this huge, innovative space containing an Asian restaurant, Italian restaurant, and a bar. It should not, perhaps, have worked, but the place is packed (or rather, it was when it was allowed to open) simply due to the quality of its food, as well as its vibe.

We had to try out Novikov 2 Go.

We placed our order, mentioning that we were slightly more biased towards seafood than red meat, sat back, and let it happen. At the appointed time, a black cab rolled up outside with eight Novikov branded paper bags, containing an array of packages and boxes. The food was steaming hot. (It helps if you live near the restaurant).

asian restaurant interiors

Asian salad

Above: the Asian resturant and below, Novikov’s crab apple salad with wasabi dressing

Image by @sheherazade_photography

A beautifully presented menu, printed for each guest, explained what we were getting. Starters included the Novikov duck salad, a crab and avocado salad, salmon tartare with yoghurt dressing (which came, like all the dressings, clearly marked in separate containers so you could add them just before eating), and ultra-creamy burrata with Sicilian datterino tomatoes.

Read more: How ionic cars are transforming classic cars for an electric future

The next course skipped into Asia: delicate hamachi yuzu truffle maki, and scallop jalapeño Maki with a sting in the tail. (Plenty of soya sauce and wasabi was provided). These went particularly well with the icy bottle of Louis Roederer Brut Premier (a classy champagne for a classy meal) that came with the meal in its own white cooler bag.

An unexpected treat was Novikov’s signature pizza with black truffle, fior di latte and soft cheeses (a COVID kilo in one go). The miso baby chicken, which I had not tried before, was the highlight of the meal, rich and detailed; and the miso black cod was like welcoming an old friend, together with its signature bamboo leaf.

red prawns

Novikov’s Italian Sicilian red prawns

Old favourite accompaniments were also there: grilled asparagus skewers with an umami sauce on the side, sauteed spinach, excellent egg fried rice and Singapore noodles that were light, bright and full of flavour.

We didn’t have space for the desserts and kept them for the next day. Ok, the Rocher XL, a giant ice cream and extremely rich dark chocolate ice cream and nut coated Ferrero Rocher ball, was devoured, but the hazelnut profiteroles, Tiramisu and Panna Cotta just had to wait.

Was it as good as going to Novikov? In some ways, it was even better. We had cuisine from both restaurants at once, something you can’t do there; we didn’t have to leave our home, and we were sitting in the garden. It was like having the chefs and all their ingredients turn up at your home, but with zero disruption, and served exactly when we wanted.

This could become habit-forming.

Novikov to Go delivers to selected address in London. Private jet orders can be delivered direct to the runway. For deliveries, customers will need to email [email protected] or call 020 7399 4330. To view the menu visit: bbot.menu/novikov2go

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Reading time: 3 min
Two men in conversation
Black and white portrait of a man

Giorgio Armani. Courtesy Giorgio Armani

The designs of fashion superstar Giorgio Armani have become synonymous with the relaxed yet restrained and sophisticated style that has, over the nearly half century he has been in the business, transformed Italian tailoring. Harriet Quick talks to the legend about his global empire, which spans womenswear, menswear, interiors, hotels and more

Even with increased life expectancy and delayed retirement age, there is only a tiny percentage of us who, at the age of 85, will wake up every morning motivated by the prospect of a full days’ work. That Giorgio Armani is in charge of a multibillion-euro company, more than 7,000 employees and owns a personal property portfolio of nine houses (plus a 65m superyacht named after his mother’s nickname, Maín), a personal fortune estimated at 6 billion euros and a whip-sharp brain makes him that rarity.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Who does he see in the mirror each morning? “I see a man who, through sheer hard work, has achieved a lot, turning a vision of style into an all-encompassing business. This assumption might sound like an overstatement, but it is a matter of fact,” says Mr Armani (Mr is his preferred address), dressed in his ‘fashion-worker uniform’ of blue sweater, cotton trousers and white sneakers. “And yet, in spite of all my achievements, I still feel the fire. I am never content – I am always challenging myself. That’s how I keep young and aware, by always raising the bar a little higher,” he says.

In January 2020, Armani will have presented Giorgio Armani menswear during Milan fashion week, the Armani Privé collection during the Paris haute couture collections and overseen looks designed for celebrities attending the Golden Globes, the Oscars and the Baftas. He also picked up the GQ Italia Award in January in swift succession to the Outstanding Achievement Award that was presented to him by Julia Roberts and Cate Blanchett at the British Fashion Awards in December 2019. By way of acceptance, he simply gave a big thank you while Blanchett added, “Mr Armani is a man who prefers to let his clothes do the talking”.

Antique photograph

Two men in conversation

Armani with his mother Maria in 1939 (top), and with his partner Sergio Galeotti. Both images courtesy of Giorgio Armani

The new decade marks forty-five years in the business during which the Armani brand has grown from a seedling collection of subtle, relaxed men’s suiting into a global powerhouse that encompasses 11 collections a year (including Privé and Emporio Armani) fine perfume and cosmetics, underwear, eyewear, denim, interiors, furnishings and hotels. Armani, who is the CEO and creative director, remains the sole shareholder making him, alongside the Wertheimer family that owns Chanel, Sir Paul Smith and Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons, one of the last remaining fashion industry founder/owner titans. Ralph Lauren stepped down from his role as CEO in 2015.

“A vision like this takes a long time to be fully developed. The slow growth made it organic and all encompassing,” says Armani. “I had the first glimpses that style could turn into lifestyle back in the eighties, sensing that my philosophy could be applied to many different fields. Across the nineties, as the business grew, I started adding new elements, be it furniture, restaurants or hotels. My intention today is to offer a complete Armani lifestyle. New things can be added all the time. The vision has not changed over the years, it has grown, evolved and expanded,” he says as if observing the horizon line. But the roots were set firm and fast. In the first year of trading (1976) the turnover was $2 million. With Italian producer GFT and American know-how, Giorgio Armani and his right-hand Sergio Galeotti learnt how to manufacture and distribute at scale. In 1981, Emporio Armani was launched offering denims and sportswear at accessible prices and emblazoned with the graphic triumph that is the EA eagle.

Read more: How Hublot’s collaborations are changing the face of luxury

Armani’s lifestyle vision of pared-down elegance (in shades of aqua and greige) has proven as enduring as the bewitching romance of Pantelleria, the tiny island that lies off the coast of Sicily. The myth of Armani seems to predate the man himself, reaching back through the 20th century into some misty pre-industrial past and lurching forward into a tonally harmonised borderless utopia. In Armani’s universe, shapes, moods and memes may change, but not excessively so and one would be hard pushed to date one collection versus another. In this age of responsible luxury and sustainability, that interchangeability is now again being considered a virtue rather than a freakish anomaly. The brand, which Armani describes as a ‘physiological entity’, speaks of constancy, grace, strength and good health seemingly impervious (or very well sheltered from) the rude chaos of real life, just like the founder himself. The allure of Armani’s serene aesthetic harbour (in jackets and the best-selling Luminous Silk Foundation alike) seems to grow in inverse proportions to the spiking rates of anxiety and turbulence in the world.

Celebrities

Armani at the 2019 British Fashion Awards with, from left, Cate Blanchett, Julia Roberts, Tom Cruise and Roberta Armani. Photo by Stefano Guindani

Yet upheaval, tragedy and human destruction is part and parcel of the Armani story. Young Giorgio (one of three siblings) grew up in poverty-stricken postwar Italy, in the town of Piacenza, near Milan. Food, healthcare, building materials, fuel and clothing were in short supply. Bombing raids were imprinted on his childhood memories as were the visits to the local fascist HQ where his father worked as an office clerk. Armani distanced himself from the ideology and the relationship (his father died when he was 25) decades ago. “We had little, very little, so we treasured what we owned. My mother was wonderful in that sense: we were always impeccable, even if we did not have anything to show off. It was all about being clean, being proper. I’d call it dignity,” he reflects. The autumn/winter 2020 menswear collection, with its distressed-leather donkey jacket, soft shouldered tweed suits and shearling mountain coats and combat boots, had strong echoes of wartime civvy and military garb, albeit in luxury and technical materials.

“As industrialisation grew, we came into contact with new stuff. I remember my first incredibly stiff pair of blue jeans and I immediately felt like James Dean. As the economy boomed we all became eager for more. The social fabric disintegrated a bit and being modern became a must. That’s when I really understood the power of clothing – it’s the first projection of the self into society,” he continues. To note, Giorgio Armani SpA was one of the first brands to enter the Chinese market – he has an innate understanding of aspiration.

Read more: Van Cleef & Arpels CEO Nicolas Bos on the poetry of jewellery

Like Ralph Lauren, Armani received his fashion training on the shop floor at the swish Milanese department store, La Rinascente. “I was dressing windows and working as a buyer. I got to observe people, and that was an invaluable lesson. Milano at that time was a bursting, innovative city and people were constantly on the lookout for something new. I developed a passion for fabrics and shapes. Then I had the privilege of working as an apprentice with Nino Cerruti, where my career truly took off. I quickly started to develop strong, personal ideas. It was Cerruti himself – to whose foresight I owe a great deal – who asked me for new solutions to make the suit less rigid, more comfortable, less industrial and more tailored,” says Armani.

It’s hard to imagine in our century of casual how modern and desirable the deconstructed jacket and roomy fluid trousers on which Armani made his name would have appeared. But his work to soften the silhouette was as impactful as Coco Chanel’s cardigan jacket on women’s fashion. The silhouette was not only ‘comfortable’, it also projected a certain sense of cosmopolitan ease and adaptability, qualities that were in keeping with a flourishing economy (cars, furniture, fashion, fabric, lighting) and the birth of the ‘Made In Italy’ pedigree.

“By deconstructing the jacket, I allowed it to live on the body, using far from traditional fabrics. That principle is the one I used to build my own brand. Suiting at the time was very stiff. Women, in the meantime, were making progress in the work place and needed a new dress code: ‘ladylike’ was not suitable for the board meeting. I made the suit suitable for men on the lookout for something more natural and for career women. I sensed a need and offered a solution. The rest, as they say, is history,” says Armani, who is wont to gently shrug his shoulders.

Fashion model wearing dress

A look from the Armani AW14 advertising campaign. Image by Solve Sundsbo

“I think Armani’s success is due to his fashion and the images that went with it,” says Gianluca Longo, style editor at British Vogue. “He personally art directed the advertising campaigns and created the Armani style. He hit the American and the Japanese markets in the booming 80s and the Armani suit became a symbol of success at work. For men, it was a relaxed style and for women, a structured jacket that was still elegant and feminine in the cut.”

Armani’s success is rooted in a close group of loyal collaborators that were particularly effective in navigating the closed-shop Italian fashion business. “Sergio Galeotti has been the pivotal figure for me. He was the one who pushed me to go on my own and who was also by my side to manage it all. When he passed away [in 1985] I had to take my destiny into my own hands. Finally, that was his biggest push. I would not be where I am now without Sergio. I owe a lot to many people I have met across the years, especially Leo Dell’Orco, but I am a truly self-made individual,” he says. He also cites his mother Maria as a mentor: “She taught us the importance of taking care of yourself as an ethical choice. The idea of achieving so much with so little left a lasting impression on me.” Even at 85, he exercises for 90 minutes daily.

Restaurant pool terrace

The Amal restaurant at the Armani Hotel Dubai.

In his professional life, he cites John Fairchild (founder and editor of WWD) and Karl Lagerfeld as mentors. He admits he is not easy to get on with in terms of journalistic portrayal (he is succinct to the point of being terse) but does remember Jay Cocks’s 1982 Time profile. The cover bore the headline “Giorgio’s Gorgeous Style” and featured the leather-jacketed designer in his own incarnation of James Dean. This was also when Armani took on American retail (Barneys was one of the first stores) and then Hollywood. Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street), Kevin Costner (The Untouchables) and Richard Gere (American Gigolo) are among the early pin-ups in a line-up of celebrities looked after by a highly active VIP and Entertainment division overseen by his niece, Roberta Armani.

Read more: Discovering Deutsche Bank’s legendary art collection

In the leagues of big business, a beige Armani suit (in fluid crepe wool) became the uniform of choice for a generation of female leaders, president of Bergdorf Goodman, Dawn Mello, and first ladies included. Today’s soft-power designers, including The Row and Gabriela Hearst, share a surprising amount in common with Armani’s aesthetic. Where peer-group brands built billion-dollar businesses on accessories, Armani’s strength has always been clothing. The cohesive brand architecture works from top to bottom with a bespoke velvet tuxedo on Brad Pitt boosting everyday entry-level purchases of underwear and scent. For the best part of the 1980s, Gianni Versace, Giorgio Armani, Gianfranco Ferré and Valentino Garavani ruled the Italian fashion business before Gucci was resurrected and Miuccia Prada launched into ready-to-wear.

Working at Giorgio Armani SpA is not for slouches. Team Armani work with military precision, expertly choreographing Armani’s interactions with press and dignitaries while exuding brand values 24/7. The notion of a team is always emphasised over individual stars and the same is true of the catwalk presentations and campaigns. The models are rarely supermodels or names but appear as a lithe army, with naturalistic make-up, hair and gestures and clothes that blend in with the wearer. “The founding principles of my company are based upon autonomy and independence,” says Armani. “Jobs might be short lived today, but not in my case. My first employee, Irene, still works for the company.” The Armani Group’s reach has been impacted by a flood of street-credible brands, including Balenciaga, Off White, Burberry and Kim Jones at Dior. In 2016, revenues dropped by five per cent (estimated at 2.51 billion euros) and various strands of the business were given a sharp nip and tuck to refocus on core values.

artistic design display

Furniture in the Armani/Casa 2019–20 collection at the Salone del Mobile in Milan. Image by Fabrizio Nannini

As a private company, rumblings and frissons behind the scenes are hard to detect. The Armani world is elegantly orchestrated, from the polished-concrete Armani HQ in Milan designed by Tadao Ando to the flagships, many designed by architect Claudio Silvestrin, and the low-rise converted dammuso on the island of Pantelleria where Armani has a holiday home. “Clothing is about the space between cloth and body, architecture is about the space in which the body moves. I do not see many differences, and I think soulful simplicity always wins,” says Armani. And tactility. “The virtual is cold. We need to touch things, we need to make bonds.”

Read more: Inside Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar’s Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat studio

“Mr Armani is a very loyal person, he relies on his close friends and has an acute sense of humour,” says Longo who last year was invited onto the superyacht, Maín. “That always helps. And he still loves to be involved in everything that he sees around him. From a button on a jacket, to the cutlery on a table.”

The spring/summer 2020 collection of misty fog and aqua cadet suits and cloud-like organza-topped shimmering gowns was dedicated to Earth, echoing this era’s concern over climate change. The company has been a supporter of Acqua for Life for more than ten years alongside other charities supported by the Giorgio Armani Foundation, set up in 2016. As fashion goes through epochal changes in purchasing behaviours and attitudes, the business will be remarkably different in ten years’ time.

Antique film still photograph

vintage film photograph

Richard Gere in American Gigolo (1980), and Andy Garcia and Kevin Costner in The Untouchables (1987), for both of which Armani designed the costumes

“The outlook for the fashion business and the outlook for fashion are two separate issues,” Armani says. “Fashion, I feel, has a great future, as people are becoming more and more confident in making decisions about what to wear based on what suits them, and are also becoming better educated in matters of style. The fashion business, on the other hand, must adapt to this new situation, and the fact that consumers are able to access new ideas from their digital devices at any hour of the day, anywhere in the world. How to best respond to the new landscape hasn’t changed – make clothing and accessories that help people fulfil their potential and look their best and bring out their characters.” The focus should be on style, not trends, he argues. “And you should have your own vision and viewpoint as a designer. If you do these things, you will be successful. Consumer behaviour may change, but why people buy fashion in the first place will not.”

On the matter of succession plans, Mr Armani remains a closed book. The internal leaders are likely to be in place. “Freedom gives me pleasure. I experience it in my business, as I am still my own boss. I experience it in my boat, suspended between the sky and the sea.” One intuits that this sense of inner peace has been hard won yet the reaching for it is what drives the Giorgio Armani brand.

Discover the collections: armani.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 2020 Issue.

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Reading time: 13 min
Lighthouse villa with views over sea
Interiors of a chic living room

Masseria Cardinale is one of The Thinking Traveller’s larger villas in Sicily, located in the countryside with authentic design features

The Thinking Traveller is a villa rental company that offers exclusive access to some of the most desirable properties in the Mediterranean. Guests of The Thinking Traveller also gain access to local insider knowledge through the company’s on-the-ground concierge team who plan bespoke itineraries and experiences. Here, we speak to the founders Huw and Rossella Beaugié about their villa selection process, luxury retreats and their intrinsically sustainable ethos
Man and woman standing in tropical garden

Rossella & Huw Beaugié

LUX: How was the concept for The Thinking Traveller conceived?
Huw Beaugié: We started the company in 2002. Prior to that [Rossella and I] had been living in Paris, where we met in ‘98. Rossella was a cell biologist doing her PhD in Paris and I was an engineer working in marketing at that time. Rossella is from Sicily, so we had been travelling to Sicily a lot already. We went there in November 2000 and that was the kind of the catalyst. We climbed up a mountain called Stromboli, and doing that made us decide that we would like to move there for a bit, which we ended up doing two years later.

Rossella Beaugié: We started doing walking tours first of all and then very soon my friends started saying ‘oh we’ve got this nice house on the island, would you want to try renting it out?’. So the first brochure we put together had three walking tours with volcanos and hills, and then seven villas, I think. At the time we were doing everything ourselves but it worked.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Huw Beaugié: There wasn’t anything of great quality in Sicily so we realised that we needed to really help these villa owners to create a property and product that would fit our clients and the people we wanted to be our clients. We started advising [the property owners], helping with design and we even began advancing money to invest in pools or refurbishments. We would make contact with interior designers to help them develop the houses. Really quickly we figured that if we were making all these investments, the only way we could really work with these houses and make it profitable would be to deal with them exclusively. That is one of the things we have stuck with ever since. We started with seven houses and we now have about 220 in various destinations in the Mediterranean, but the really vital and big unique selling point is that they are all exclusive to us and that means we can still keep on investing to make sure the quality and service is right, and to have our people on the ground to support that. We are expanding slowly, being careful to always keep the quality increasing rather than diluting.

Pool views over countryside

Views over the Sicilian countryside from the pool at Masseria Cardinale

Rossella Beaugié: The secret has been that right from the beginning. For the first 10 years we were in Sicily so we were around the whole time and then we started hiring staff who are really knowledgeable people and know everybody locally, meaning they can find the best doctor if needed, the best yoga teacher or if you wanted to organise a dinner we can do that. We don’t have reps who move around, our staff work for us 12 months a year and they have insider knowledge.

LUX: What challenges have you encountered now that your main offices are in the UK and you’re based here?
Rossella Beaugié: We have developed quite slowly. There have been two regions that we were interested in but because we hadn’t found the right people or properties we wanted to offer clients, we decided not to go with them. We are happy with the regions we’re working in because we have amazing teams and the owners of properties share our priorities and ethos. The team here receive so many offers of villas everywhere, we could have 10,000 villas! We get that many offers because they see the website, they like it and we have a good reputation, but we have been careful of where we go and what we take on.

Lighthouse villa with views over sea

Faro di Brucoli is a refurbished lighthouse in Sicily with views of Mount Etna across the Ionian Sea

LUX: How do you select the villas to represent?
Rossella Beaugié: They tend to come to us. It is usually owners knowing us already, maybe due to our reputation amongst other owners who also have these kinds of top level properties. So what we do first of all is decide whether it’s for us and we can see that now straight away with Google and photos.

Read more: High altitude luxury at Riffelalp Resort 2222m, Zermatt

Huw Beaugié: Probably 70% of them we cut immediately. The next 30% we go further and ask for more information, and then perhaps the final 5% will end up with a visit and a detailed report and out of those, we probably only take on one property.

Dining table with sea views

Bedroom with sea views

Here and above: Iola is a contemporary villa located on the Greek island of Corfu with sweeping sea views

LUX: What are the key elements you’re looking for?
Rossella Beaugié: We are now at a stage where we know what our clients want so we have criteria, but at the bottom of it, we really need to truly like the property in terms of style and we have to know that the owner could be a good partner because it’s their house and they continue managing the property so they need to be able to reinvest and sort out problems quickly. In terms of more objective criteria, the location and views are important but it depends on the region. Greece, for example, is really all about location so being on the sea and beaches. Privacy is also important and then there are all the things like ensuite bedrooms, a good kitchen, a nice-sized pool, not being overlooked. Then once we take on the property, we have a list of stuff that they have to have such as good quality linen, appliances etc. We recommend things and then our local managers go and do what we call a quality check.

Read more: Founder of Nila House Lady Carole Bamford’s guide to Jaipur

LUX: Is it important to you to have a wide range of different properties in your portfolio?
Rossella Beaugié: Yes, we have clients that have gone from a very charming, chic, three-bedroom house in Puglia and then they book our best property in Sicily, which sleeps 24 with a chef because maybe they are doing a multi generation family holiday, or it’s someone’s wedding anniversary and they want to invite everyone. So yes, we need diversity in terms of size and level of service. Some people could afford to have service everyday but they just want privacy, they want to be able to go around without clothes if they like. Then there are also different styles of property. Some people want minimal or really cutting-edge design, and some other people want to go to a place in Puglia or Sicily with traditional charm.

Huw Beaugié: We also work a lot with people who haven’t even started building. The optimum situation is when someone comes to us and says ‘I’ve bought a piece of land’ or ‘I’m looking to buy a piece of land, and what are your suggestions?’ Or people say ‘I’ve bought this ruin and what should I do with it?’ With those projects, we are involved from the beginning right through to the delivery. We suggest interior designers, architects, landscape designers, everything. Those are the villas that tend to perform the best.

Antique furnished living room

 

Bedroom inside old building

Masseria Cardinale (here and above) offers guests traditional charm combined with luxurious modern amenities

LUX: Can you tell us a bit more about the experiences side of the business? What can you make happen for your clients?
Huw Beaugié: We try to make anything happen that the clients want as long as it’s not against the law!

Rossella Beaugié: The kinds of things that are becoming standard for us is that everyone wants a cook. Especially in Puglia and Sicily, people want to learn to cook and so we organise cooking classes either in the villas or on vineyards. We have three kids who were born in Sicily and grew up there which means we were able to try out things with them and find out what they found boring. From that, we designed some guided experiences with experts who will prepare the tours on two levels so that it works for the parents and it’s entertaining for the kids. Wine tasting is very requested, and water sports are popular, but then we also have occasions like weddings when people want a Steinway piano in the garden or a certain opera singer to perform.

Read more: Inside The Dorchester Collection’s first branded residences

Huw Beaugié: What we are starting to do more of is themed weeks so things like getting a celebrity chef out to a villa for a week and creating a programme for full immersion in the food, which might include cooking classes, demonstrations and tours of markets. This year, we are doing a partnership with Bodyism so that you can take a wellness instructor out with you to the villa.

Villa pool inside courtyard

Flower arranging

The Thinking Traveller has paired up with McQueens Flower shop to offer guests flower arranging courses at Palazzo Gorgoni (above), one of their properties in Puglia

LUX: What’s your approach to sustainability?
Huw Beaugié: It’s the same as when we started. The basic model of restoring or building unique properties in rural locations or old towns using local people to build, cook and garden, all of that is just inherently sustainable. Generally, you’re also using local materials and the money is staying local. The things that have been added to that model since 2004 is more use of solar energy. However, sustainable a client is they never want to give up on air conditioning, which is one of the single biggest consumers of energy in a villa so solar energy supplements that. Then the other big thing is water: drinking water and swimming pool water. Swimming pools lose hundreds of litres of water a day through evaporation so we encourage people to cover pools when they’re not using them and at night. Same with air con, setting the temperature between 24 and 27 degrees, for example, rather than at 18 degrees and wrapping yourself up in a duvet, which uses a lot more energy. In terms of drinking water, we are doing a big campaign to try and get people to install water filters in their homes, which is difficult in the Med where bottled water is standard, but it’s changing.

Rossella Beaugié: We have these little leaflets which we leave in the houses called ‘Think Green’ which have sustainability tips for guests. People are more aware of sustainability issues so it is easier now than it was in the past to encourage these ways of behaving.

View The Thinking Traveller’s portfolio of properties: thethinkingtraveller.com

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Reading time: 9 min
Prosecco bottle against brown background
Prosecco bottle against brown background

Ombra Di Pantera is a new producer of Prosseco, and businessman Utsava Kasera’s latest investment

Utsava Kasera is an entrepreneur and investor with interests in luxury brands, fashion, art and tech. Most recently, his attention has turned to new Prosecco brand Ombra Di Pantera. Here, he tells us about this latest investment, finding a gap in the market and his new year ambitions

Man in suit and bow tie

Utsava Kasera

1. How did you first come across Ombra Di Pantera?

I always wanted to be involved in the drinks industry and the stars aligned when I met the other promoters of Ombra Di Pantera over a lunch through a common connection. The opportunity looked very good and we are on an exciting journey now.

Our inspiration for ‘Ombra’ is delivered from a unique heritage and a fabled history which stretches back to the Roman wines of antiquity. In ancient times, traders who served wine in Venice’s Piazza San Marco would follow the shadow of the Campanile to cool their wine as there was no refrigeration, and the Venetian expression, ‘Ombra de Vin’, meaning ‘Wine’s Shadow’, is still used to order Prosecco in its original heartland. Another interesting fact about Prosecco is that typically a glass contains fewer calories than wine and there is a town called Prosecco nearby Venice, where the name of this bubbly comes from.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

2. What drew you to invest in the business?

The huge demand for Prosecco in the UK and lack of branding around it gives an opportunity to fill a missing gap in the market. The sales of Prosecco have overtaken champagne in the UK, which is now the second biggest market in the world after the US. Besides that, it’s a delicious Prosecco which embodies the elegance of Italian luxury and I believe it has the potential to make its mark in the sparkling wine world.

3. What sets Ombra Di Pantera’s Prosecco apart from other brands?

Ombra is traditionally crafted from a single vintage, using superior Glera grapes from our delicately cultivated Conegliano vineyard, to deliver a pure expression of the very finest Prosecco. The Prosecco is created ‘in bianco’, meaning the fermentation is without the skins creating the delicate sparkle that is captured over 60 days to produce a fine, persistent perlage. The steep hills of the vineyard provide the perfect conditions to grow  Glera grapes, which require cultivating and harvesting by hand relying on traditional methods refined over a thousand years. Ombra Di Pantera is dedicated to celebrating the traditional heritage and craftsmanship of Italian viticulture to deliver an authentic, exclusive Prosecco experience and can stand up to any high quality champagne or sparkling wine in blind tasting.

Vineyard with lush green vines

Ombra Di Pantera’s Prosecco is made from Glera grapes grown on their vineyard in Conegliano

4. How does the company fit into your wider investment portfolio?

My investments are across a wide spectrum of industries from tech to hospitality. I particularly invest in industries and projects, which I am passionate about rather than just looking at the numbers. Having said that, Ombra compliments a couple of my investments, which are in private members club, one called 1880 in Singapore and a wine bar chain in London called Vagabond.

Read more: Knight Frank’s Andrew Hay on the best emerging markets for real estate investment

5. What are your ambitions for 2020?

I would like to focus on making Ombra di Pantera bigger by aligning with more luxury partners and concentrate on strategic growth of the brand. I am also a co-founder of ‘Sidehide’, which is a tech app for hotel booking, providing a seamless experience for users and I will be involved in the launch and marketing campaign during 2020. Lastly, I would like to do some volunteering work with one of the charities I am involved with, and learn to play the piano.

6. How do you switch off?

I have a passion for whiskies and cognac. Enjoying a dram of Springbank 21 years whisky or Louis XIII cognac in company of friends relaxes me. Recently, I have started taking out time to cook and I am enjoying it at lot. Travelling is another passion and therapy of its own kind for me.

For more information visit: ombradipantera.com

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Reading time: 3 min
Man walking across stadium wearing watch
Blue sports watch with mechanical face

The RM 11-04 Automatic Flyback Chronograph Roberto Mancini has been designed to celebrate the heritage of Italian football

Richard Mille’s latest timepiece has been designed in collaboration with Italy’s football team manager Roberto Mancini to celebrate the sport’s heritage. Here, Chloe Frost-Smith marvels at the timepiece’s unique design features

Designed with football fanatics in mind by the Italian national team’s manager, the RM 11-04 Automatic Flyback Chronograph Roberto Mancini makes complicated look cool, with a dedicated dial for tracking half-time, extra time and overtime.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Set in the  patriotic colour palette of Il Tricolore alongside the recognisable blue belonging to the Squadra Azzurra, there are hints of Italian footballing heritage throughout the design. The timepiece uses a rotor with variable geometry, allowing it to be easily adapted to suit the wearer’s activity levels – you simply adjust the setting of the rib’s placement for the rotor to either speed up when worn at leisure, or slow down in moments of the highest movement.

Man walking across stadium wearing watch

Roberto Mancini wearing the RM 11-04 Automatic Flyback Chronograph

Displaying match time on the basis of two 45-minute halves and up to 15 minutes of stoppage time, the pusher can be pressed at 4 o’clock to actuate the fly-back function which repositions the hand at 12 o’clock, ready to start the second half. Should extra time be awarded, the fly-back can also be reactivated to reflect these additional minutes ensuring the wearer never loses track.

Back shot of a blue watch with exposed mechanics

The watch can be easily adapted to suit the wearer’s activity levels

But the watch isn’t just for football fans. Encased in the almost indestructible Carbon TPT and water-resistant to 50 metres, the RM 11-04 is set for the most extreme of adventures.

For more information visit: richardmille.com

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Reading time: 1 min
Glamorous woman lounging by exotic pool
Glamorous woman lounging by pool wearing blue dress

Photograph by Mattia Aquila

Launching our new insider guide feature, Italian designer Alberta Ferretti reveals her favourite spots in her hometown Cattolica – as well as a few from further afield. 

My favourite view…

The view of the sea from my town, especially from above, gives me energy; it recharges, relaxes and regenerates me. Gazing at the horizon leaves me with a sense of freedom, which inspires me to follow my imagination. Living in a city by the sea gives me a freedom of thought, an openness to travelling and visiting other places, observing and studying other cultures. From this, my collections are born, the sense of lightness that I bring to my fashion: the lines and volume of the clothing, as well as the colours and fabrics.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Dining spots to die for…

Wherever there is an open terrace overlooking a beautiful landscape: at the sea, in the mountains, in the city. The terrace of the Gente di Mare restaurant in Cattolica, where you can watch the bay. The tables in front of the large windows of the Hakkasan restaurant in Shanghai, when the Bund shines with sensual lighting.

Where I escape to…

San Bartolo Nature Park [just south of Cattolica].

I am at one with nature in…

My home! I am fortunate to live in a house built in a mature park. Our relationship with nature
is fundamental and I get to experience it daily. Every season changes the shapes, the colours, the smells – from the flowering of the trees and the lawn to the movement of the animals that populate it. For me they are sounds and images that mark time as a melody and make it an enchanted place. New York’s Central Park also fascinates me with its many private corners with wonderful villas and shelters.

Read more: ‘Extremis’ by Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar opens at Setareh Gallery

The perfect weekend brunch is…

Wherever there are my favourite local dishes, such us tagliolini with cuttlefish ink salmon and cream of ricotta acidified with lime.

Worth a detour…

Montegridolfo, a small village in the mountains nearby, with a palace that I renovated together with my brother Massimo in the 1990s. The village has a lot of history.

LUX met Alberta Ferretti during the presentation of her Resort 2020 collection at Monte Carlo Fashion Week. View the brand’s collections: albertaferretti.com

This article was originally published in the Autumn 19 Issue.

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Reading time: 2 min
Hilltop luxury villa hotel surrounded by forest
Hilltop luxury villa hotel surrounded by forest

Borgo Pignano sits within a stunning 750-acre estate

Why should I go now?

Tuscany is always beautiful, but especially so when basking in firey Autumnal hues, the ground scattered with crispy orange and red leaves. Set in the hills between Volterra and San Gimignano, boutique hotel Borgo Pignano is remote and staggeringly beautiful – the perfect place to disappear for a few days, especially when the hotel is nearing the end of its season (the hotel closes early November and reopens in April). If you’re lucky, you can go the whole day without spotting a single other person.

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What’s the lowdown?

Just over an hour’s drive from Florence, Borgo Pignano is 750-acre estate encompassing 15 rooms, 12 cottages and apartments, an organic farm and various workshops that produce everything from the hotel’s sustainable bath products and candles to the jars of honey and jam that you find at breakfast. A gorgeous 18th century villa sits at the centre of the property surrounded by gardens and forest land, with the main swimming pool carved into the original quarry stone of the hillside.

Luxurious library room

The hotel’s library

Once a hilltop hamlet, the property has been lovingly restored to preserve its original grandeur and romance. The rooms are decorated with painted frescos, patterned textiles and antique furnishings. In the evenings, guests are invited for drinks in the living room where the in-house mixologist makes cocktails whilst waiters circulate paired canapés. It feels old-world in the very best sense, fostering an atmosphere of earthy, cosy luxury in which guests are treated like old friends rather than moving bank cards.

Luxurious grand living room space

The living room, where evening drinks are served

Meals are generally served in the main villa’s dining room, with a menu featuring local and organic ingredients which are grown on site including dishes such as herb-filled goat’s cheese salad with pollen from the estate’s honeycomb. Guests are encouraged to freely roam the farm to learn more about the hotel’s sustainable efforts, and can also pick up walking routes from reception to further explore the surrounding landscape. There’s also an art gallery on site with contemporary exhibitions and a spa that offers treatments using natural remedies such as flowers, herbs, plant extracts, oils and honey.

Read more: Louis Roederer’s CEO Frédéric Rouzaud on art and hospitality

Getting horizontal

Located in the main villa, our room was once the bedroom of the marchesa with an adjoining single bedroom for her child. Elegantly and simply furnished with a large four-poster curtained bed, wooden shutters and stone tiled floors, it was a unique and calming space. We especially loved the hidden doors, painted to blend in with the walls.

Luxurious hotel suite decorated with grand furnishings

The signature suite, located in the hotel’s main villa

Flipside

The swimming pool isn’t heated so the water is very cold at this time of year, but we very much enjoyed a bracing swim before breakfast. It’s also worth remembering to pack a few jumpers as the evenings get quite chilly.

Rates from: €220 in low season with breakfast included (approx. £200/ $250)

Book your stay: borgopignano.com

Millie Walton

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Reading time: 2 min
Courtyard party showing large monochrome artwork of hands
Courtyard party showing large monochrome artwork of hands

Iranian artist Shirin Neshat’s label designs on display at the closing ceremony of the Ornellaia auction at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice

Italian wine producer Ornellia’s 11th annual online benefit auction in collaboration with Sotheby’s and the Solomon. R. Guggenheim museum, featured vintages with label designs by Iranian artist Shirin Neshat. Digital Editor Millie Walton recalls the closing ceremony at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice

Photography by James Houston

Gliding along the Venetian canals as the sun sets is one of those rare moments when real-life seems to align with cinema. More than a couple of times during the evening, as we stood in the courtyard and then, on rooftop of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection sipping glasses of Ornellaia vintage, someone compared the evening’s scene to La Grande Bellezza. We were invited though, not just for the wine, views and glamorous company, but to celebrate the funds raised by the Sotheby’s conducted auction of Ornellaia in support of the Mind’s Eye Program at the Solomon. R. Guggenheim Museum.

Party guests stand in courtyard watching a screen

Guests watching the final few minutes of the online auction projected onto a screen

Large wine bottle with artistic label

One of Neshat’s label designs

The auction is part of the Italian wine producer’s Vendemmia d’Artista project, which each year, commissions a different contemporary artist to create an artwork for a series of limited-edition labels. The artist is give a single word description of that year’s harvest as the starting point. For Shirin Neshat, the prompt was “La Tensione” (or tension in English).

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Known for her iconic monochrome aesthetic and poetic vision, the Iranian artist produced a haunting series of photographs of luminous white hands captured in various postures and inscribed with Persian script. These images became labels for bottles of the 2016 vintage, which were auctioned in 11 unique lots, the most coveted of which included a visit to the Ornellaia vineyard and a luxurious overnight stay.

Two women speaking at a drinks party

Artist Shirin Neshat, who produced a series of monochrome photographs for the Italian wine producer

Following a series of speeches from various team members at Ornellaia and Neshat herself, the auctioneer called an end to the bidding, announcing an impressive total of $312.000.

For more information on Ornellaia Vendemmia d’Artista visit: ornellaia.com/en/vendemmia-d-artista

 

 

 

 

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Luxury hotel interiors of a drawing room with painted walls and soft furnishings
Facade of a grand mansion house

The Rocco Forte Balmoral hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland

Since he created it in 1996, Sir Rocco Forte has grown his eponymous luxury hotel group to include multiple properties in key destinations across Europe, with a major expansion this year within his family’s native Italy. And there are plans for the boutique group to move into the US, Middle East and Asia. LUX’s Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai speaks to the group’s chairman and founder about new openings, changes in the hospitality industry and what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur
Colour portrait of a middle aged man in a suit

Sir Rocco Forte, Chairman of Rocco Forte Hotels

LUX: Rocco Forte hotels is currently in a period of planned rapid expansion – why now?
Sir Rocco Forte: We had a period of consolidation after the financial crisis and have gradually come out of that and the business profitability increased. We’ve improved the quality of the management team. Generally taking the company forward, it was the right moment to start expanding again and looking at adding additional properties…

There are a huge number of different luxury brands within Marriott. Having said that, I think there’s an opportunity for the niche player somewhere, a business that is much more personalised in its approach to its customers, where attention to detail is extremely important. I think people are looking for things which are more individual, more related to where they are going. They want the rubber stamp wherever they go. I think it is going to get more and more difficult for these big companies to actually deliver that, and for a smaller organisation like mine, it’s easier because the top management is hands on. The business and the detail of business has some advantages.

Follow LUX on Instagram: the.official.lux.magazine

LUX: How has the landscape and your business philosophy changed since you started?
Sir Rocco Forte: It’s changed significantly on the technological side, the way people buy hotels in particular is much more a business done through the internet than there was than it was before, there are online travel agents who are becoming quite powerful. Customers are now more inclined to book through the web than going to direct to hotel. Then there’s the social media aspect which is also becoming more important, as a means of communication and promotion of properties. There is an interaction between guests who have tried properties and posted comments and so on. This is picked up by other people and used to validate their choice. TripAdvisor type sites didn’t really exist before and now people use it to make up their minds about hotels. Then you have the back of the house side of things; technologies have come in there and give management a greater ability to know their guests. There is increased technology in the rooms, television, wi-fi. Wi-fi became available 20 years ago and now people complain unless they had the fastest band available in the hotel. People used to pay for wi-fi and now they don’t want to pay for it anymore. Telephones, actual landlines have gone out of the hotels; they are hardly used.

In terms of the actual service side, the principles remain the same. The customer wants to be treated as an individual, wants to feel a warm welcome when he goes into a hotel, wants to be recognised. Maybe the relationship between the customer and the staff members has changed to some degree, it’s become slightly less formal, which is something that we did from the beginning.  I wanted to de-formalise the service to some degree. Then you’ve also got to keep up to date in a hotel because there are things that people have in their own houses that they expect to find at a hotel and it is a competitive market place.

Luxury hotel interiors of a drawing room with painted walls and soft furnishings

The front hall at Brown’s, a Rocco Forte hotel in London. Photo by Janos Grapow

LUX: The marketplace is much more crowded nowadays with new players coming in and there’s Airbnb. What is it that has allowed you to keep going and growing with so much more supply?
Sir Rocco Forte: Airbnb doesn’t really effect the luxury end to any great degree. Airbnb has already started to show problems with consistency. There are plenty of niche players coming in and it does eat into the marketplace, but if you have a well-located hotel and you deliver an excellent service and have a regular clientele that like the place, it’s very difficult to prize a luxury customer away from a hotel that he’s used to and where the staff are trained to his needs. There have been a lot of new openings in London and there are more in the pipeline; there’s always a supply and demand equation. I think you’ve got to try and distinguish your hotel group from others and make a potential customer feel that they will get something special, something different if they come to you. The staff are the people who deliver the service and you’ve got to ensure that they’re motivated in the right way. They need to have the right training, the right philosophical background. We put a lot of effort into induction where we tell them about the family, the history of the company, the history of the hotel and something about the city where the hotel is located  so everyone has a sense of heritage and belonging as a family. It is my sister and myself and three children running the hotels, we know a lot of the individual staff members and it creates a sense of warmth in our hotels which you cannot necessarily find anywhere else.

Read more: Chaumet’s latest exhibition reveals the symbolic power of tiaras

LUX: Is it important that your guests can recognise the brand when they’re staying at one of your hotels?
Sir Rocco Forte: Yes, part of having a group is that, you get cross fertilisation and you get customers using more than one hotel, following the brand. So the brand is important because the customer knows that if he comes to Brown’s or goes to Hotel de Russie in Rome, he will get a certain type of service and a certain type of welcome.

LUX: A lot of your properties are significant and historic properties in individual cities, how do you imbue them with the Rocco Forte brand?
Sir Rocco Forte: The induction is consistent throughout the company that creates the blueprint on which the hotel is based. My sister who leads the decor has a strong agenda and sense of place. It is very difficult sometimes to please everybody. The thing is you get a hotel designer to design the hotel and there are the prototype rooms, but it is never quite finished, it is a design hotel, you are always adding little bits and pieces and so on, which gives a more personalised touch. My sister does that very well. She usually buys locally, which give the rooms a more homely feel.

Views from a luxury terrace over a European city

The view from the Popolo Suite at Hotel de Russie in Rome

LUX: You have lots of developments happening in Italy at the moment – is Italy a particularly important destination to you?
Sir Rocco Forte: Italy is not the easiest place to do business, so in a way that is an advantage for us. Italy is a tourist destination, it is the prime tourist destination in the world. The American market loves Italy and that’s a very important market for travel. About 40% of our business comes from the States, you can get high prices for the rooms you sell, which in some destinations it’s impossible to do. So from that point of view, it’s attractive. The bureaucracy and the labour laws make it difficult, but the demand is there if you get the right hotel in the right location and at the price.

LUX: And Italy is underserved by luxury hotels, isn’t it?
Sir Rocco Forte: Yes, there’s no luxury chain across Italy, and we now have the opportunity to create one. We have six hotels and the three new hotels that we’re developing — we are doing a second hotel in Rome, a small 40 bedroom hotel in Puglia, and we have just taken on a place in Palermo, which is a 100 bedroom hotel and used to be a jewel of a place, but is now very run down and it’s been badly run for many years. It is a wonderful destination hotel. The city Palermo is having a revival, a lot of people are buying houses there, and doing them up. It is quite a good time to go in there and I already have a resort in south of Sicily, and Palermo is the airport you use for that so having the two properties working together is beneficial. But obviously, I need to be in Venice and Milan, I’d like to be on the Amalfi coast and some of the other heritage cities with smaller hotels. I am pushing to try and get there.

I also still want to be in the States…New York and LA and Miami maybe, I’d like to be in Paris, I’d like to be in Moscow, and probably another German city. Hamburg or Dusseldorf would complete the German equation. We are doing our first hotel in the Far East, in Shanghai, which will open next year. We don’t have a clear date, things get delayed quite a lot there.  It is moving forward, but slower than it is supposed to. That will be our first step into that part of the world. We will see. If I am going to travel to my hotels and if they are way out, that’s less attractive. I have to think carefully about it, about how far we extend geographically. Within Europe it is fairly straightforward.

Read more: Maryam Eisler’s new photography series reimagines pastoral romance

LUX: With the new portfolio that you are developing, are most of the hotels owned or managed, or both?
Sir Rocco Forte: The Palermo hotel we bought, but we probably won’t keep the ownership. We are talking to a partner about taking it on and leasing it back to us. The other two are leases, I prefer leases to management contracts because we’re in control with a lease. You have complete control of the property and you can do more or less what you want. With a management contract, the owner tends to interfere all the time. He thinks he knows how to run the property better than you do. If the hotel is doing well, he doesn’t need you, if the hotel is doing badly it is your fault. You take on more risk with a lease, but then it is a bigger upside and you have control over your own destiny.

Luxury hotel suite with plush furnishings

A Junior Suite at Hotel de La Ville, one of two Rocco Forte hotels in Rome

LUX: As an entrepreneur, what qualities have you needed to get to this stage with RF Hotels?
Sir Rocco Forte: Very difficult to say. I think you have to have a passion for what you’re doing, what you want to do, and you have to really care, and have people around you who believe in what you’re trying to do, who will help you to do it. You have to have determination. Where there are obstacles you have to overcome them. You have to have the determination to overcome them, not take no for an answer, continuously try to move things forward. It is easy to get dispirited, upset and to give up. A lot of people do, but I am not made that way and I am always looking forward, always looking to see if I can do things better. It is that, and I think the minute I stop having a passion, then I should stop working. But I hope that will never happen.

LUX: Do you have dreams of passing on the business to your children one day?
Sir Rocco Forte: Yes, but my kid are still in the early stages and they might well reach a stage, where they don’t want to take on responsibility so we’ll see. At the moment, that’s the idea. And it’s good having them working the business, it gives a certain continuity to the business and it adds value to the business. In the short term, it makes us different to a lot of other companies and from a personal point of view, it gives me a huge amount of pleasure: my kids have left home, but I see them all the time. We’ve got something in common to talk about and to argue about, and to enjoy. You never know — I could go under the proverbial bus tomorrow. And then what happens? The business is in a position where it can continue to go forward, but then my family would have to decide what they want to do.

LUX: Talking about the younger generation, do you think that, as customers, their demands of the hospitality industry are different?
Sir Rocco Forte: Apart from the technological side that we were talking about it earlier, the way they dress is differently, but in the end of the day they still enjoy service and being looked after. It depends…a lot of them are brought up under very comfortable circumstances and they understand that way of life and I don’t think they are particularly different. All the ones I’ve seen using my hotels, seem to enjoy the facilities like anybody else. I suppose there is more of a consciousness of wellness and well-being and looking after yourself than there was in the previous generations. We meet those demands through the facilities that we have in the hotels already. But I wouldn’t say there is anything dramatic and to build a hotel for a specific sector of a population is narrowing your market quite considerably. I also think people whether they are millennials or older people, like the idea of heritage and like the idea of history, and they enjoy it when they experience it — I don’t think that has changed. Most people want to know what is the next thing? I don’t know what the next thing is, but I think hotels tend to follow trends rather than set them. Mine do anyway. I think in the luxury sector, that is more so than it is anywhere… You have hotels now that have no staff, you put a credit card in a slot, you get a room key and you go up to your room. And there isn’t a restaurant, there are communal rooms for people to use, you help yourself, all these sorts of things, but not at the top end of the market. I don’t see anything dramatic on the horizon.

Read more: Where I would invest £100m in property by Knight Frank’s Andrew Hay

LUX: Your portfolio is predominantly city-based. Have you ever been tempted to start a resort hotel in tropical climates? And if not, why not?
Sir Rocco Forte: Because anything I’ve looked at hasn’t really worked financially. I haven’t managed to find anything. The hotel in Puglia has a beach facility available, but it is not on the sea. And then there is a seasonality thing, which is difficult. When you are building a new hotel from scratch, to finance that on quite a short winter season, for example, is difficult because it closes, then it opens for a very short summer season and then it closes again…

Luxury contemporary style villa with a private pool and wooden terrace

A luxurious villa at Rocco Forte’s Verdura Resort in Sicily

LUX: And what about the residences model that a lot of new hotels seem to have now, is that something you’d ever consider?
Sir Rocco Forte: It depends on the property, the location and the size of the property. But in Rome we’re now doing five luxury apartments, which are situated on the corner of Piazza de Spagna, which is within walking distance to our hotels (one is on top of the Spanish steps and the other one is on Piazza del Popolo). So that’s a new endeavour. Also we’re building some villas now in Verdura, which initially will be let as basically a sort of extended stay or hotel accommodation for families who want to stay together in one unit. We’re starting to get into that market.

LUX: Are there any other new developments in the pipeline that we should know about?
Sir Rocco Forte: My daughter has been working on the spas. The spa in the new hotel in Rome will be her spa design, which she thinks will be the first properly designed spa. She thinks that it has more activity and treatments and so on, which will encourage people to come and see. There are a range of creams that she produced which are properly organic so that is a bit of a new venture. Otherwise, we are continually looking to improve the facilities in our hotels. We are looking at the food side particularly. It is difficult for hotels to do restaurants well. We are always searching. A lot of places that have successful restaurants started out being run by restauranteurs, rather than hoteliers and then they have a few rooms as well. For example, Chiltern Firehouse or Costes originally, they had a few rooms and then they bought the hotel next door extending it. I haven’t found the key to creating really successful restaurants. Our restaurants are doing well by the standards of hotel restaurants. If we are doing 120 covers a day, we are happy, but there are restaurants doing 250 covers a day. Some hotel restaurants you go into, you never see anybody there. That is not the case with ours, but we can do a lot better than we do.

Discover the full Rocco Forte portfolio: roccofortehotels.com

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Reading time: 15 min
Painting of a group of young women in a bedroom setting
Abstract graphic style painting featuring red vibrant background

‘Dead End’ (2018), Loie Hollowell

Frank Cohen is one of the UK’s most renowned art collectors. Since selling his DIY business in 1997, he has built up a collection of more than 2,000 artworks by classic and contemporary artists. Here, he tells us how he caught the collecting bug, and which destinations are the most interesting for art right now.

Portrait photograph of the profile of a man on the phone

Frank Cohen. Image by Jonathan Straight

1. How did you first get into collecting?

As young as 7 years old I started to collect cigarette packets. In those days there were not so many brands and the cigarette packets had wonderful graphic designs on them. I asked all my aunts and uncles and my mothers friends to save the packets when they had smoked the cigarettes as everyone smoked in those days. 68 years ago it was fashionable and I kept them in mint condition always.

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When I was about 14 years of age I started collecting coins. One day when I went to a cinema in Manchester the cashier gave me a Victorian penny in my change. I had never seen one before so I took it to a numismatist, which was next to the cinema and he gave me half a crown for it! I collected coins for nearly 20 years and had one of the biggest collections of pattern coins in England.

Pattern coins are coins that were presented to the Royal Mint to be picked to go into circulation. I collected the ones that were never put into circulation, making them very rare. There were only about 10 minted of each, one always went to the Victoria & Albert Museum for their collection and the Queen gets one.

Painting of a shipping dock by L.S. Lowry

‘Glasgow Docks’ (1947), L.S. Lowry

2. Do you have an all time favourite artist?

I have all time favourite artists during different times in my collection. When I started collecting there was no contemporary art scene, so I collected Modern British art but if I could have afforded to buy anything I would have bought Picasso or Monet.

When I first started buying I bought Edward Burra, a fantastic English painter who only painted in water colours that looked like oils. I also bought L.S.Lowry, one of the greatest British painters of the last 100 years. In the late ‘70’s I bought Dubuffet and Miró from Leslie Waddington who let me pay for them over 2 or 3 years, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to collect them. Afterwards he offered me Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns and Mark Rothko, that were actually very cheap but I still couldn’t afford them. Today they are worth millions! You win some and lose some and I don’t regret anything or anything I bought.

3. If your collection could speak, what would it say about you?

My collections speak to me and my wife Cherryl, who has always been very important and supportive in my career. We’ve really collected together. I don’t care what anybody else thinks. It would say to me ‘I love you because you have made the right choice’.

Abstract painting featuring multiple figures in pink, red and blue

‘La Vie en Rose’ (1980), Jean Dubuffet

4. What’s the most interesting destination for art right now and why?

I suppose the Far East is an interesting destination right now for buyers but because the world is global there are some really good artists coming through from Brazil, Africa, Thailand and Romania. America, Germany and London, France and Italy were always at the forefront.

Read more: Contemporary ceramicist Edmund de Waal at The Frick Collection, NYC

5. Have you ever doubted your artistic judgment?

I have never doubted my artistic judgment because it’s me buying the artist. To put it another way I have bought some terrible things over the years and some great things – how do you judge it, how much money is it worth? I have done very well but I haven’t bought for that reason. I have artists that will never ever increase in value but I love them still.

Painting of a group of young women in a bedroom setting

‘Anonymous Now’ (2019), Chloe Wise

6. What’s your exhibition recommendation for this year?

My recommendations for this year mean nothing except to me, as no doubt people that read this article will naturally have a different view. Besides all the classic artists I have collected over the years, I have also bought young artists as well right now like Nathaniel Mary Quinn, Alex de Corte, Chloe Wise, William Monk and Loie Hollowell.

Read more of our 6 Questions interviews here

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Reading time: 3 min
hotel bar restaurant with view over New York City
glass hotel facade

The entrance to the Moxy Hotel in Chelsea, NYC

President of Lightstone Mitchell Hochberg has put his stamp on New York with multiple real-estate developments, including luxury residences 130 William Street and 40 East End Avenue. In partnership with Marriott International, Lightstone are also developing lifestyle hotel brand Moxy, which has multiple properties spread across the US, Europe and Asia. LUX speaks to the entrepreneur about succeeding in a saturated market, New York real estate and working with the world’s biggest architects. 

Man stood in front of sculptural wall in a hotel

President of Lightstone Mitchell Hochberg

LUX: Lightstone is one of the largest privately held real estate companies in the US with your focus mainly in New York City. How do you succeed in such a saturated market?
Mitchell Hochberg: We’ve been able to distinguish ourselves by staying true to two common threads – across each of the various real estate segments in which we develop, each of our projects is entirely unique and as well, features a strong design aesthetic.

For instance, with our Moxy hotels, we saw an opportunity to be the first to develop an affordable micro-room, macro-amenity lifestyle hotel in New York, defining a new category of hotels amidst a sea of luxury lifestyle and lacklustre select service properties.

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In each of our projects, we strategically partner with architects and designers who have a strong design aesthetic, allowing us to create buildings that are provocative but contextual with interiors that are functional yet memorable. With our first two Moxy Hotels, for example, we worked with Rockwell Group to design the restaurants, bars, and clubs and Yabu Pushelberg for the rooms – both known for their luxury projects and unconventional choices for an affordable product, but key to creating the well-designed environments that make our properties special.

In the condominium space, we’ve partnered with two leading architects to design 130 William and 40 East End Avenue. At 130 William, we worked with world-renowned architect David Adjaye to create a 66-story building that pushes against the conventions of tall glass towers with a hand-cast concrete façade that will surely redefine the New York City skyline. At 40 East End, we worked with Deborah Berke, Dean of the Yale School of Architecture, to create a boutique condominium that represents a modern interpretation of local historic architecture.

LUX: Do you have a favourite residential area in New York?
Mitchell Hochberg: There’s an enclave on the Upper East Side of New York abutting Carl Schurz Park and Gracie Mansion (the Mayor’s residence) called East End Avenue. It’s a beautiful, bucolic neighbourhood that is fully immersed in the natural surroundings of the East River and the park, with nothing commercial in sight. In this setting, you have the advantage of both being in Manhattan and simultaneously not really feeling like you’re there – a result of the harmonious combination of the waterfront, the park, and the low density residential buildings. It’s the neighbourhood where we’re currently developing 40 East End Avenue, a boutique condominium, and it’s actually the one that I live in.

Read more:  Life on the thrillionaire trail by Geoffrey Kent

LUX: You’re currently working with Marriott International to develop their new lifestyle hotel brand Moxy. How did that come about?
Mitchell Hochberg: After spending many years investing in and studying the hospitality market, we saw an opportunity to develop a new type of lifestyle hotel that could offer efficient rooms at an affordable rate without sacrificing design. In the U.S., everything is bigger – the cars, the TVs – and indeed the hotel rooms. So at the time, nobody was doing this. The Moxy brand incubated in Europe, where travellers have long been accustomed to smaller room sizes, and we felt it had the potential to align perfectly with our vision. So as our ideas evolved, we decided to approach Marriott about forming a partnership to bring the Moxy brand to the United States. We have a longstanding relationship with Marriott, and as the most highly regarded international hotel brand with over 110 million loyalty members, we knew that they would prove to be a huge asset to our developments. Together, we reimagined Moxy for the New York market.

building overlooking a bridge

130 William Street’s view over the East River, NYC

LUX: How does your approach to developing for hospitality differ from other projects?
Mitchell Hochberg: The short answer is it doesn’t. What we’ve learned from our hospitality projects is that our guests don’t want to stay in their rooms – they crave social connections and memorable experiences. So our design has to accommodate that, with lobbies, bars, and restaurants that appeal equally to locals and integrate into the fabric of the community. Our residential projects – from rentals to luxury condominiums – all take this philosophy into account. We dedicate immense amounts of space in each of our projects to amenities – from the 20,000 square foot courtyard complete with a year-round greenhouse at ARC, a rental property in Long Island City, to the IMAX Private Theatre at 130 William (one of the first in New York City), we design spaces that our residents want to spend time in. Similarly to our Moxy hotels, we also consistently activate our residential properties with innovative programming, from wine tastings to yoga classes, allowing our residents to interact and get to know each other. That’s where the magic really happens.

Read more: Maryam Eisler’s Icelandic photography series

LUX: What’s been the most challenging project for Lightstone so far and why?
Mitchell Hochberg: It would have to be Moxy Times Square. From a pure design standpoint, the project had just about every challenge you could think of. The building was an adaptive reuse of a 110-year old