By Rosaria Zucconi and Francesca Benedetto — photos by Max Zambelli
— p. 115
Milan. For three weeks during October, Palazzo Morando in the heart of the city’s fashion district became the Elle Decor Grand Hotel. An installation project designed for us by Piero Lissoni and Patricia Urquiola. With exhibition, talks and special guests illustrating the evolution, present and future of hotels The legendary Grand Hotel as a place of privileged encounters, a stage for the beau monde and the intelligentsia, back in fine style at Palazzo Morando in Milan, as the Elle Decor Grand Hotel. Thought up by Elle Decor Italia and designed by Piero Lissoni and Patricia Urquiola, this installation project charmed and surprised visitors in October. The idea. The concept came out of reflection on the evolution of hotels in recent years, covered and recorded in the pages of our magazine. Observing the lifestyles of a traveller who has started to prefer tailor- made hospitality options, aided and abetted by the accelerated birth of design and boutique hotels designed by architects and interior designers. These are hotels that have often played with oversize solutions and celebrated the pleasure of surprise. Choosing the location. In addition to being central and the right size, it had also to embody the place’s unique spirit. Palazzo Morando, in the heart of the city’s fashion district, with its aura of a glorious past and secret courtyards, proved to be the perfect location. The architects. These obviously had to be two designers with important projects to their name: Piero Lissoni, architect of the Mamilla Hotel in Jerusalem, of the Conservatorium in Amsterdam and the Roomers in Baden- Baden, and Patricia Urquiola, who designed the Mandarin Oriental in Barcelona, the Room Mate Giulia in Milan and Il Sereno on the banks of Lake Como. Meeting with the firms. How was a single location to house projects by different people? The answer was to design the layout of the Grand Hotel to suit the use of its rooms. The public and reception areas were designed by Piero Lissoni, while the bedrooms and more private travellers’ rooms were designed by Patricia Urquiola. The Hôtel Particulier by Piero Lissoni. It has a feel of those luxury city homes: “a hotel that is more like an aristocratic hostel, achieved by simply changing the interiors and copying the style code of 16th/ 17th century Italian architects, an era of very rigorous architectural proportions”, he explains. “I have quite fearlessly mixed different worlds, contaminating Milan design, the 50- 60 years of the city’s history, with pieces by Magistretti, Memphis and Castiglioni”. The Stanzas by Patricia Urquiola. The architect from Oviedo took a different approach: “I designed the bedrooms in the Grand Hotel imagining a series of rooms like moments scattered through a tale… The title ‘ Stanzas’ refers to the various verses in ‘ Stanzas in Meditation’ ( 1929), a collection of poems by Gertrude Stein. For me, the bedroom is always an intimate and personal limit, of isolation and protection. Therefore, my horizon of emotional intimacy with Milan: Vico and Maddalena ( Magistretti and de Padova, – Ed.), their having introduced me to Shakers, Ponti, Albini, Caccia Dominioni...”. The talks. The Séjour room in Palazzo Morando hosted Lissoni and Urquiola, who talked about their approach to the project. But not only. These encounters also saw participation by a group of select industry experts. On 10/ 10, presentation of our Elle Decor Contract Book saw participation by the General Manager of Milano Contract District, the director of Cassina Contract Italia, and the director of Contract Division B& B Italia and the director of Ambiente. The talk held on 20/ 10 was all about ‘ Textures and materials: the value of decoration’. The cycle of encounters drew to a close on 21/ 10 with ‘ Design for Hospitality: towards a new idea of hotels’, which presented the state of the art in Italy and future scenarios. It also illustrated the spirit of exclusive boutique hotels and that of a new generation of hotels, accessible to a wider bracket of clients, but still characterised by on- trend design. To enable total comprehension of the hotel phenomenon.