EXPO: In the Desert

 

Among all the wooden architecture at the Expo, rose impressive twelve meters high walls made in red fibre glass reinforced concrete. Rippled like gigantic sand dunes and designed to evoke the narrow self-shaded streets of the UAE’s historic settlements, the architecture immediately transported me to a different geography with none of the arabian kitchyness. No wonder since the UAE pavillion was designed by none other than Foster & Partners. 

Once inside, a video perfectly balanced between shrewd advertising and concrete information was following the visitors are treated to state of the art 3D animations on the theme of water. If only the (italian) staff had not been so pushy and commandeering I would have loved every minute of it!

Ten Years 

Ten years ago today Alfred and I got married. I am proud of this milestone because marriage is no easy arrangement to the problem of being in love. Especially for someone restless like me, who gets bored quite frequently. Marriage is love by design: you have to want to be married and you have to choose to love every day (well almost every day!)

Although to anyone who meets him, he appears like a saintly figure, my husband can be incredibly annoying. Just like anyone else really. But if I had to choose again who to marry, I would pick him every day of the year. For a start he understands Design. Also, he endures my tantrums and supports my follies. Perhaps most importantly, life with him is fun! So to my husband, who reads my blog religiously every morning and comments it every evening, I want to say thank you. For the first ten years. 

Morning Ablution

The first time I saw a sink in a bedroom I was shocked (not something you see in Italy!) It is of course a vestiges of when, before running water came into existence, every respectable bedroom had a washstand. Most were simple tables with a ceramic jug and basin, but William Burges clearly wanted to offer his guests more. 

The washstand he designed and had made in London (in 1880) was inspired by Dante’s  Vita Nova. The decorations suggest a garden full of life, but really, it is the clever mechanisms and shrewdnesses that captured all my attention. The basin turns to empty itself in a hidden bucket and water is held in a a small cistern in the higher cupboard. Running water is one of the granted luxuries of life, but for a washstand as astonishing as this, I could renounce it… Well perhaps for a whole week! 

On show in the permanent collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. 

Shiny Steel  

Do you remember the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz? He was always my favourite in the story, because he had such a great look. Someone else in the design world must have felt the same way. 

Nino Ciminna is very very old, but still works in his workshop in Palermo. He has hand-cut, curved and bent twelve pendant lamps designed by Vittorio Venezia. More than lamps, these shiny steel objects – called  4decimi – look like mysterious kitchen utensils and containers. When hanging all together, the effect is of a theatre scenography. Sculptural and beautifully executed with tin welding (the old way!), they are both futuristic and rural. Now I just need to wear my red shoes, click the heels and take them with me back home. 

  

Dreaming a Pool

  Today it was so hot I dreamed of having a pool. Something stilish, natural looking and completely integrated with the architecture. Something that doesn’t really look like a pool. Like this beautiful example in Rio de Jainero designed by Burle Marx, who incidentally also designed the tiles. Some days it is good to dream!

An Amazing Feat

Schermata 2015-06-04 alle 09.00.15

Among all the tragedies we hear about daily, there is one piece of news we should all be really excited about. A solar plane trying to circumnavigate the globe. The Solar Impulse looks a little like an insect with the longest wings ever: 72 meters to carry just 2,300 Kg (the weight of a car) and just one passenger. On the wings 17,000 solar cells supply four electric motors with renewable energy, day and night. The driving force (and pilots!) of this amazing Leonardesque machine are Swiss explorers Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg.

The aim is of course to demonstrate that clean technologies and renewable energies are sustainable and realistic solutions for this century, but for me this incredible project demonstrates much more. It shows the very best of human nature: pioneering spirit, courage, curiosity, and the constant desire to push the limits in order to find better ways of living on our planet.

The Round-The-World flight started from Abu Dhabi, on March 9. The Solar Impulse is currently waiting better weather conditions in Nagoya, Japan. You can follow the trip here.

Image (c) Solar Impulse/Jean Revillard