Daylight / Neonlight

 When people renovate their flat/house/mansion and get to the point of discussing lighting with a professional, they always ask for daylight looking illumination. Sly lighting designers are quick to enquire to the light of which hour of tha day, in which time of the year is the client referring to. And with that, the conversation is over. 

This ultimately is the reason, I find Eduardo Coimbra’s work Natural Light so great. Natural light is an aspiration, something which is considered the golden standard. And on a cloudy day in November I would rather have a neon tube. 

Cover with Style

Radiators are a nuisance. In winter you obligingly accept its services anf pretend not to be disturbed by their noises; in summer they are only cumbersome uglyness. With difficulty a new generation of heating systems is emerging but if you live in an old house your best bet are still screens. 

And nowhere in the world have I seen a more beautiful screen than the one in this Amalfi house. Designed by Ernestine Virden Cannon (read about her here) it is the perfect model: another successful combination of a classical motif in a modern rendering. Now let me just find an artisan capable of doing the work! 

Schloss Hollenegg for Design


I am not one to think long and hard about things; I usually just start and figure it out along the way. So when six months ago two friends suggested I start a residency programme at home, I did not waste much time. Hugely exciting, the program Schloss Hollenegg for Design has begun. Last week  I had the first in house designer(s) working on a site specific project: Dossofiorito came over from Italy and stayed with us for five days working on a brief and a theme. The skeleton of the idea is already formed, the rest will take shape over the next six months and will be presented in a collective show at the next Designmonat.

The next designers in line for the residency are Dean Brown and mischer’traxler who will be coming in autumn and working on the same theme and brief. A couple more designers are selected for 2016. Lot’s of work ahead so keep following, it is going to be quite a ride! 


The Universe at the Planetarium

IMG_3279At the weekend I went with the girls to the Planetarium in Judenburg. It is housed in a very high medieval tower making it the tallest planetarium in the world. I am not sure what that meansapart from the fact you have to climb almost as many steps as in Positano.

Because we were there during the day we did not study the night sky, but rather watched a documentary on the universe. It was incredibly well explained for both adults and children and it showed amazing images of our solar system. Believe it or not I got really emotional. The incommensurable vastness and our insignificant smallness suddenly made the possibility of life on another planet very plausible. The girls obviously made fun of me: as usual I am the embarassing mother. “Mom it’s ok, you are Italian!”

Statistics as Tool

On of my biggest challenges is to see things early enough, so that when I write about them, you can still check them out yourself. Alas, it is a race against time and sometimes time wins. My students at the Exhibition Design Master in Graz put on a great exhibition, which I saw last week, on its last day. 

Aptly called JakOH!mini it tried to describe an area of town, which despite renewed investments, and concerted efforts, remains undervalued and sadly, unappealing. With statistics and observation, the 17 students captured, through as many installations, different aspects of the Jakomini street. We get noise charts, sun and shadow schemes, paths and colour maps. Clearly I love all my students and consider them all exceedingly bright. But without being partial, the exhibition was clear, well thought out and – most rare – betrayed a sense of humour. What I enjoyed most, was how I was reminded of the importance of observing, analysing and counting data. I tend to be too deductive but deep knowledge is empirical. Long live statistics! 


An American Designer in Italy

You know I have a weakness for ceramics and in Amalfi I have recently discovered a most amazing artist I had not heard of before. Ernestine Virden Cannon was american and came to Italy soon after the war. She discovered the Costiera Amalfitana, met the architect Matteo D’Agostino and decided to stay. He had a ceramic factory and she painted watercolours. Together they started making incredibly modern ceramics with new delicate and transparent colours. The patterns varied from two tone graphics to delicate flowers. 

Ernestine was not just an artist, she embodied the figure of the modern designer. Together with the german ceramic engineer Horst Simonis, Ernestine brought about important innovations also on the technical side of the manufacture, discovering the procedure for making mew colours and successfully removing asbestos. The production lasted less than twenty years but the sheer variety of designs and patterns is astounding. They were a huge success, especially abroad. If you bump into an Ernestine piece anywhere in the world, you have a gem in your hands so don’t let it go!


Art and God

In my more rebellious years I was tollerant of the Catholic Church only for having made possible incredible works of art and having been patron to innumerable artists. With age, as one becomes (inevitably?) more conservative, I have shifted perspective. My understanding of the link between Art and God has grown deeper, more complex and flows in both direction. 

As the Church – in the name of God -has made Art possible, so Art allows a spiritual dialogue with God. I don’t think I am the only one, that albeit little faith, feels moved by a stripped down crucifix, by the high vaults of a church or the sombre tones of a deposition from the cross. The beauty of created things stirs up God’s emotions.