Touring Peter Zumthor’s world

Despite his starchitect status, Peter Zumthor was once defined reclusive mountain-dwelling architectural hermit. Just like himself, unless you live in Switzerland, his projects are difficult to stumble upon. Nevertheless, if you’re looking for a snowy architectural adventure, touring Zumthor’s buildings might be just the right tour to end the year with style. Even though the photographer Felipe Camus has toured Zumthor’s buildings in a 60 km. radius, we suggest a more ample tour, starting in Austria and ending with a relaxing day at one of the most famous spa’s in the world, Thermal Baths in Vals.

The first stop of this architectural tour, thus, should be Kunsthaus in Bregenz, Austria. Completed in 1997 the museum is in a constant state of flux, changing its exhibition spaces to accommodate international contemporary art, where Zumthor’s minimalist design adapts its spaces to the art that is showcased. Zumthor himself compares the building to a lamp: “It absorbs the changing light of the sky, the haze of the lake, it reflects light and colour and gives an intimation of its inner life according to the angle of vision, the daylight and the weather”.

If you are looking for a full immersion in Zumthor’s work, thought and life, you can’t but book his vacation homes in Leis, near Vals. The two houses were both made of timber and could almost be described as an enclosed viewing platform, with breathtaking views on the mountain landscape. From there, you should take a short trip to Sumtvig, where in 1998 Zumthor completed the Saint Benedict chapel, to Chur for the protective housing for Roman excavations, or even to Haldenstein, the beautiful studio of the architect himself.

And for an extremely glorious ending of this tour, both for the amazing architecture as well as the experience itself, you should visit the Thermal Baths in Vals. If you’d like to know what to expect, you’d better read what the author himself has to say: “Mountain, stone, water – building in the stone, building with stone, into the mountain, building out of the mountain, being inside the mountain – how can the implications and the sensuality in the association of these words be interpreted, architecturally? The whole concept was designed by following up these questions; so that it all took form step by step”.

Rujana Rebernjak 
Share: Facebook,  Twitter  

Year-end Exhibitions

Another year is over and the new one is about to begin. In a flash we’ll be catapulted in our working and leisure – hopefully pleasant – routine. But, in the meantime, taking advantage from the long break offered by the Christmas holidays, we have done a tour around Italy to give you some art highlights. Our path starts in Trento at Mart, currently one of the most lively institutions in Italy with a broad spectrum of events; then we move to Bergamo at GAMeCGalleria D’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, where Sources in the Air, an exhibition curated by Alessandro Rabottini and Andrea Viliani and devoted to David Maljkovic (b. 1973, Rijeka, Croazia), will be on view until January 6th 2014.

At Palazzo Reale, in Milan, there is a variety of shows to visit, maybe a bit expensive, but you can pick among Kandinsky, – if you still don’t have enough – Andy Warhol, Pollock and The Irascibles, the masterpieces from Centre Pompidou, and the marbles by Rodin; going to the south, at the hibernated MAMbo, The Studio of Giorgio Morandi by Tacita Dean, while the sleeping MAXXI in Rome, among others shows, displays the museum’s collection through a show with more than 200 works and 70 artists such as Christian Boltansky, Maurizio Cattelan, Alfredo Jaar, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Paul Mccarthy, Nobuyoshi Araki, Adrian Paci – with a solo show in Milan too, at PAC, Contemporary Art Pavilion -, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Gerhard Richter, Kara Walker, Lawrence Wiener, just to mention a few.

We close our art itinerary in Naples, at Madre Museum for Vettor Pisani’s retrospective entitled Eroica / antieroica: una retrospettiva, curated by Andrea Viliani and Eugenio Viola. The first retrospective of the contemporary Italian artist, whose artistic research was among the most significant during the ‘70s and consists of drawings, collages, installations, paintings, performances inspired by several disciplines.

With the New Year, we hope to get more and more suggestions from private and public art institutions, which help us to keep our editorial plan always updated and diversified. Many thanks to all the people that are following us. We hope you all have an amazing New Year!

Monica Lombardi 
Share: Facebook,  Twitter  

Dry Denim: Back to Basics

For many people, one of the best items in their wardrobe would have to be a pair of denims. For centuries we have been wearing this humble fabric which although has evolved in many ways, the essential ingredients and construction have not changed. The best denim is still created on the original hand looms either in Japan or America and it is these fabrics which form the basis of a dry or raw pair of jeans for many premium denim brands such as ACNE, Kitsuné, A.P.C. and President’s.

True denim fanatics will start with a pair of raw denims, which are initially stiff and unwashed. The idea is to break them in and wear them without washing for at least 6 months and then to wash them occasionally. Through this process the denim fabric in its’ dry state ages daily according to the wearer’s activities. They become softer and creases and abrasions are formed naturally which basically is how they would have been and still often are worn by workers. It’s a whole craftsmanship in itself but the end results are far more authentic and give the jeans their own character and history.

Depending on the brand, different features are designed to create the DNA of a denim brand; key design elements can dramatically change the look and fit of the garment, including stitch size and thickness, thread colour, pocket size, shape and placement and actual workmanship and construction. So next time you go out to buy yourself a new pair of jeans, instead of opting for the readymade worn in look, why not try a dry pair of premium denims and wear them in yourself. Patience and love for your dry denims will reward you with a perfect pair of jeans which are unique to you.

Tamsin Cook 
Share: Facebook,  Twitter  

Interviewing Arnold Goron

His eclectic works remind us of DIY aesthetics, but they do not share the same youth-obsessed, underground look & feel. His favourite materials are generally low cost, but they dialogue with great luxury brands, enriching their spontaneity and their artistic coté. Arnold Goron, designer based in Paris, tells us something about his approach to work and what, day by day, keeps his multi-faced creations so prolific.

Set designer, illustrator, sculptor: does your educational background explain your eclecticism?
Yes. I have studied almost all the disciplines, from graphic design to illustration, photography, art direction, volume, etc. But I always had a real passion for sculpture.

In a time of digital hegemony, do you prefer to express yourself through manual work? Generally speaking, is nowadays hand labour in advertising and communication underrated?
The thing I understood after years of working in graphic design and others, is that in fact I am a manual. I just love to make things by myself, to make a physical effort, and to look at something real at the end of the day. Advertising must touch too many people to be done by hand. And I think it’s great that hand labour and handcraft are still a little exception in our computer world. Some brands understood that it can be great for them to communicate less but with a bigger impact.

On the other hand, has your handcraft experience changed your work as a digital graphic designer?
Yes, because when I was art director, I really liked to make straight and light graphic design. Now I make all the illustrations for Isabel Marant, in handwriting because in a way it looks less pretentious, it’s lighter with this kind of stupid message in a bad French / English sentences. It can be weird, but it takes me quiet a long time to make them. And it looks like the windows in a way, sometimes a little wobbly.

Isabel Marant is your longest collaboration: what makes your artistic relationship so special?
She trusts me. And that’s the best way to make great things.

You spent four days to assemble thousands of matches to re-design the logo of The New York Times‘ style publication T magazine: is patience another virtue we tend to underestimate?
Oh yes! I have always been very patient and oddly. I love to do things very quickly in a way, I want the final creation to look very easy and spontaneous. But I learned, from the window display for Isabel Marant, to find a real pleasure making the same things for weeks. You have to love spending time doing repetitive tasks. I am lucky to have found an assistant who understood that. Otherwise you get crazy.

Is there a work you are particularly proud of? And which is the one you’re more attached to?
I hope it will continue to be the last one I have finished! I just finished three big mobiles sculptures for Le Printemps at the Caroussel du Louvre. The one I am more attached to is Le clown, a very small sculpture.

Besides your assignments, do you still find the time to work on your personal experiments?
Yes, because in fact I try not to make any difference besides commissioned artwork and personal sculptures. I have this chance.

Giulia Zappa 
Share: Facebook,  Twitter  

Merry Christmas…

Bells are jingling, snow is falling, Rudolph is as red-nosed as ever and Christmas time is here again. So as your turkeys are getting ready, your wines are bubbly and your friends and family are all merry, there is nothing left for us to do than to wish you all the happiness we can. On our part, we’ve had an amazing year, we have worked hard and can only figure we will work even harder in the next few months, so The Blogazine‘s team can only do what everyone else is probably already doing: soak in some of that Christmas joy, open our gifts and give our old bones a few days of well deserved rest. What else can we say but Merry Christmas everyone!

The Blogazine – Illustration courtesy of José Luis García Lechner 
Share: Facebook,  Twitter  

Our Christmas Design Wishlist

Even though Christmas is already knocking on our doors, for those of you who are still catching up with their gift lists, here is a small selection of design goodies that you should definitely get.

Enzo Mari‘s perpetuate calendars for Danese are a timeless classic that you should already have in your homes. For those of you who don’t, this is the perfect occasion to get them, one for you and one for your loved ones.

Another essential classic is Konstantin Grcic‘s Mayday lamp for Flos. Simple and linear, with a delightful and witty hook that allows to use this portable lamp both hung up as well as leaning on the floor or table, it bears all the distinctive traits of Grcic’s designs that we have learned to love.

Since it’s Christmas time and we should only give the best presents ever to our beloved ones, here is another great designer and another wonderful series of objects. Produced by Olgen, Japan, this range of cast iron kitchenware is already sold out on Morrison‘s web shop, but if you try really hard you might be able to snatch that lovely pot somewhere.

What would a Christmas gift list be without a book. Even though this time of the year is supposed to be relaxing, thus not include any heavy reading, we warmly suggest a book that is as challenging as it is astonishing. Written back in 1971 by Victor Papanek, Design for the Real World is a mandatory read for any design fanatic that doesn’t go for style but substance.

Rujana Rebernjak 
Share: Facebook,  Twitter  

Style Suggestions: Holidays at home

We have almost made it to the end of the year and we hope that you are one of those lucky ones to be enjoying this well deserved holidays, and if it’s at home… better! Here there are a few tips to enjoy these days far from stress, in a stylish way.

By Malene Birger, Current/Elliott, A.P.C., Want les essentiels de la vie, Kiehl’s cream, DVN, Apartamento magazine, Pamela Love

Styling by Vanessa Cocchiaro 

Share: Facebook,  Twitter  

The never-ending ‘70s

The decade of the ‘70s has never lost its fascination. Even many years later it keeps on influencing and attracting people of every age, around the world. As one of the most complex and controversial decades, there has always been a lot of talk about this extraordinary moment. It was a fervent historical period, focused on important social issues that gave birth to a new way of conceiving images.

These were years characterized by a radical upset, cluttered with negative events, such as the energetic crisis, and also with original injections in music, cinema, dance, literature and visual arts. The tendency to change in all fields started during this time and had a strong effect on the intellectual environments, which were extremely prolific and raised meaningful themes that deserved to be discovered. Like in other Countries, also in Italy the political and social climate was tense, those were the so-called Years of lead, overfilled of violence and, even now, shrouded in mystery. The Italian artistic core was Rome, the ancient capital able to reinvent itself as an experimental centre, where a plurality of coexisting languages, the place where Arte Povera (literally Poor Art), the Roman School, Conceptual Art, Analytic Painting, Post Minimalism, Narrative Art and Trans-avant-garde come across, and private and public art institutions sustained each other. The show entitled Anni ’70. Arte a Roma, hosted at the Palace of Exhibitions and curated by Daniela Lancioni, retraces the contributions of around 100 artists from the ‘70s, featuring 200 of their most significant works. Throughout their connections and analogies, the pieces – which goes from painting to photography, and from sculpture to installation –, are displayed without a chronological order, following different topics (androgyny, incest, gender, otherness, the affirmation of word and its refusal).

Ontani’s Pinocchio, the Investigation by Joseph Kosuth (The Eighth Investigation, Proposition #4’, 1971), Lombardo’s project death notes (Progetto di morte per, 1970), the run to the Rubedo by Luca Maria Patella (Verso la Rubedo, 1970), Penone’s Tree (Albero, 1970), the Androgyne by Vettor Pisani (L’androgino – carne umana e oro), 1972 Boetti’s Creation made of paper laid on canvas (Mettere al mondo il mondo, 1972-1973), and Woodman’s portrait of Rome (Roma, 1977) are exhibited together to coin a further historical narration of the symbols of an artistic decade of transformation.

All the works, conceived by Italian and international artists, were created and presented in Rome during the ‘70s and were able to travel through time, being nowadays incredibly contemporary. If you are interested in contaminations and post-modernity and have the fortune to go to Rome in the next few months, do not forget to go visiting Anni ’70. Arte a Roma, which will run until 2nd March 2014.

Monica Lombardi – Many thanks to the Palace of Exhibitions’ Press Office 
Share: Facebook,  Twitter  

Tony Conigliaro – the Alchemist

Mr. Tony Conigliaro is far from a mainstream bartender. Recognized as one of the most important mixologists in the world, he works in his laboratory to create cocktails that will take you through an experience that you’ve never lived before. We went to London to visit him in his bar at 69 Colebrooke Row.

In a way you are a creative. Where do the ideas for your cocktails and their creation come from?
The inspiration can come from anywhere, from different places. It can come from something that I taste, from something that I find, from a concept, also from a film, or even while smelling a perfume or from a piece of music. Everything is out there. Then I work on those ideas, both by using flavours or trying to make flavours work together.

I got to know that you have a laboratory, where you experiment with those ideas.
Yes, it’s called The Drink Factory. It’s in the old Pink Floyd Recording Studios, not far from 69 Colebrooke Row! It’s kind of a flavour library where we also have the kitchen. There we test everything, try new ideas out and create the ingredients for the bar.

In Italy, food has always been a primary concern but in this period, we have a food craze: food is everywhere. Is there any influence from food in the drink culture and in your own experiments?
Well, I think it’s a cultural thing. The world is really paying attention to this return to the flavour. They want to go back to a concept in which food is not just food, but something that communicates. I grew up in a house in which food is a family thing, and it’s also something typically Italian. Italian people talk about food more than anyone else on the planet. That culture has always been part of my culture as well. And now it is also part of the culture of the Drink Factory, where all the conversations are about food. All day long! Linking that to the outside, we’re into the food loop and we’re constantly aware of what’s going on, thanks to the communication we have with local people. We are part of the community.

As you said, food is becoming very visible and mainstream. The most visible part of that are TV programs and reality shows such as Masterchef. Do you think that something similar may happen soon with bartenders?
Well, I think there are some important differences between the culture of food and the culture of drinking, in the sense that food is nutrition while drinking is not. You also have to see a reflex in the idea of the fear, how the drink culture is perceived and its danger. People are becoming more aware that it’s not just the culture of getting drunk.

I recently read an article about Mezcal. What do you think is a spirit category or an ingredient that deserves more attention?
I find it really interesting reading about this kind of artists bringing out new spirits and people like Ron Cooper are doing great things. Bartenders take it on board and it becomes their own and then it’s passed on to the customers and then to the wider public. I think it’s a very important thing that we appropriate these things and broadcast them, because without the bartenders a lot of these drinks wouldn’t be around. Of course, in the end the public is responsible for making a “movement” start.

Are you going to embrace any specific category or are you just experimenting at this moment?
We are constantly moving in different ranges, looking for something that is new, fresh and exciting, so that we are not just repeating or walking down the same path.

Vintage drinks, mad-men-era cocktails, speakeasies… Like in fashion we’ve been looking at the past as a source of inspiration for quite some time.
I think that in the past two or three years the movement of speakeasies, Milk & Honey, with Sasha Petraske, started. Fashion has been moving in a certain direction, then second hand clothing has always been there. It feels like with the development of speakeasies, people became more interested in those things. It’s not strange imagining that it had an influence on a wilder culture.

In your opinion, which country or city has the best bar scene?
I think there are lots of great bar scenes. I think that London has a very, very strong one, because it’s been going a lot longer for cocktails. Seventeen or eighteen years ago we’ve been the first people to really have barmen. Though, there is a lot of nice places that are abroad. I think it is the people changing things. They are making the whole global community interested in this. Other cities are doing interesting things, such as Milan or even Japan. Each scene is different and each one appraises the whole scene, that is what’s important. I think it’s not about just one city or one country. It’s all about people. Something similar to what the cocktail is.

Have you ever had a great drink-related experience in Italy?
Yes of course. I was in Milan recently – we went to great bars and had a lot of fun. I think there are lots of great things happening in Italy, because things are moving now. It’s an exciting period and Italy is changing.

Do you think that Italy has a ‘signature’ when it comes to drinks?
What’s really interesting about what’s happening in Italy is that there are boundaries between what came before and the more modern movements. I think it’s fascinating how they are meeting in between. Bartenders from the old school are now trying new ways of doing things. It’s a mix between the past and the future.

Can you tell us something about a project you are currently working on?
One of the most interesting projects we’ve been working on, for the past two years, is the Terroir project. Basically it means blending three distillations of flint stone, clay and reindeer moss. So, we distill vodka and then blend it. It was released in 2012 and that project is continuing. Now we are working to create a Champagne Terroir, studying the air and atmosphere!

Special Holiday Drink by Tony Conigliaro

As soon as the winter months draw closer our craving for Panettone increases. The combination of dried raisins and citrus peels with the sweet vanilla notes of the bread transports us to a world of Italian tradition and indulgence. Combining these aromatic notes with Prosecco, our Panettone Bellini is a pure delight for the winter months.


- 50ml Panettone puree

- 100ml Prosecco

Interview by Simone Oltolina – Image courtesy of Luca Campri 
Share: Facebook,  Twitter  

Three exhibitions at Tre Oci in Venice

Now that the mega-yachts have sailed away, the pavilions have closed their doors, the new director has been announced and the old one has bid farewell, this year’s Venice Biennale has closed and with its closure the city suddenly feels empty. Sure, the usual crowds of American, Japanese and Chinese tourists hurdle around its narrow streets, tiny bridges and poetic squares, but its citizens are left to spend the misty winter days in boredom, only occasionally cheered up by a glass of wine or Spritz. Many have lamented Venice’s lack of eventfulness outside the busy Biennale days and its growing status of tourist wonderland. Yet, there are a few organizations that still resist this definition and are trying to build a cultural scene for the town’s citizens and not only for its hip art crowd.

One of these organizations is Fondazione di Venezia with its Casa dei Tre Oci exhibition space and an exhibition program dedicated to photography. While in the summer Casa dei Tre Oci is taken over by the Russian V-A-C Foundation, in the winter it usually presents a delightful series of exhibitions and events: three exhibitions for Tre Oci. This year, the goal of the exhibition was to build a confrontation between contemporary photographic research and the discipline’s past, constructing an elaborate narrative on the almost magical evolution of the photographic language. But while the premises of the shows seemed extremely promising, the actual exhibition is fairly disappointing.

The ground floor of Casa dei Tre Oci was taken over by Italo Zannier with the exhibition titled Il vento folle della fotografia. Zannier has built an exhibition on the surreal in photography, ranging from anonymous and somewhat shocking images of the past, until the present, which create a delightful, yet somewhat limited story about the wonders of photography as a medium and a visual language. The first floor is dedicated to Francesco Iodice and Olivo Barbieri who have interpreted the marvellous Capri island through a series of iconic images, that nevertheless seem superficial and cold. The last floor is entirely dedicated to the famous Venetian photographic circle La Gondola and three exhibitions: Time, Persone and L’immagine Sospesa. Time and L’immagine Sospesa present works by contemporary authors, while Persone draws works from La Gondola’s historical collection, showing how incredibly different the production of the circle was in the past. While the first two shows can’t seem to strike a chord in the viewer, the almost too-well-known images gathered for Persone are still able to touch us. And this, sadly, is the most important lesson the exhibition makes us learn.

Rujana Rebernjak  
Share: Facebook,  Twitter