Hello from a cramped room in an Art Hotel hidden in the narrow streets of Florence. (Fierenze) I normally don't get to do any sort of internet activity while on these holidays, however the weather here is on the warm side with very cool nights and I always have problems with these sort of changes and it makes me feel sick/feverish for one day while my body tries to regulate... today is that day. :( Everyone went on to breakfast without me and then to see the famous masterpieces of Botticelli.
The first day and a half was spent in Milan, there is a huge and gorgeous Kartell store there, full of lucite-y goodness and colorful lamps. Knoll was there as well but closed. Our Milan hotel had Knoll tulip-base tables in the lobby and Knoll chairs in the dining hall. All modern of course but those chairs were like heaven on my back, I want to look into a set for home - even if just a pair, they would do wonders while I sit online.
Italy has strict rules about what sorts of shops and brands/designers can sell here. Anyone who sells online and ships frequently will know the horror stories about lost and pilfered packages to Italy. You're not allowed to send anything having to do with haberdashery, leather goods, (shoes purses etc) from another country into Italy. There's a huge list of other goods having to do with paper, fur etc but I know off the bat that it's any sort of clothing and accessories. Italy loves their Italian designers and want their people to buy Italian-made only. Any shops that are not of Italian origin (Knoll, Chanel, H&M etc) have the capital to pay some sort of agreement in order to have their own shops here. Therefore, the pickings are slim compared to London, Paris, etc but now that we are in Florence, there are the cutest little artisan shops and TONS of vintage shops that I am dying to get to ... once I stop shivering under a blanket.
Gio Ponti seems to be THE MAN here as far as Mid-Century design goes. MCM also seems to be fashionable here - mixed with modern pieces is encouraged. I am just observing what I've seen in shops and I *did* purchase 3 huge design magazines whilst here and the ecclectic mix really seems to work for most people and their homes. The modern Italian design incorporates alot of lucite and still (to me) looks very 80's. I've said on this blog before that I don't care for Italian MCM design, it tends to be too fussy for me. The contemporary stuff can get too tacky. (for my tastes anyway). In a museum in Milan was a small exhibit of furniture, with even a smaller example of Art Deco - Mid Century pieces. WAY TOO DECORATIVE for me. I don't think Italians are capable of minimalism, everything has to have a swirl or a flounce to wreck the straight plain lines. I did take photos, though and everything will be uploaded when I get home. :)
A French magazine I picked up at the train station shows that MCM living is alive and well there too! It was amazing to see photos of the exteriors of typical French homes that would make you think of Napoleon, Marie Antionette etc --- then to see the insides as bare as can be with perfect white endless walls and sparse furnishings with a bit of color only coming from a Calder-esque mobile. It blew my mind because if I had a provincial style French home I wouldn't even know where to start with modernizing it in that way but these people had it to the letter.... without even making the inside vs. outside contradict each other by way of keeping the original windows (no treatments) and using one element of the home's provenance indoors to just tie it in together. One example I saw was a bit of rattan on the seats of dining chairs that could of been at home in a 1700's hunting scene or a 1960's country styled home. Bless the French!
Anyway we will be here in Florence until tomorrow then it's either off to Pompei or straight to Rome. Rome is the last stop regardless and we fly out of there next week. There is supposedly 4 different flea markets on Easter sunday in Rome and we are planning on hitting the largest one. I hope to find my only wishlist item ~ a Franco Albini ottoman. If I do, trying to get it back home may be funny... my suitcase is already overstuffed with Italian design magazines and shoes. ^__^