De­sign des­ti­na­tion: Florence

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Just tell any­one that you are trav­el­ing to Firenze, and you can ac­tu­ally see them swoon. This is ex­actly how pow­er­ful good de­sign can be. A city of grand Re­nais­sance build­ings in­ter­min­gled with lesser op­u­lent me­dieval struc­tures creates the per­fect sense of beauty and bal­ance of built forms.

Steeped in history and artistry, The Duomo, Pitti Palace, Ponte Vecchio, and Pi­azza della Sig­no­ria all come to mind as must-see tourist at­trac­tions. Imag­ine a city area where ev­ery street, nook and cranny is filled with an­tique shops, de­sign stores, amaz­ing flower shops as well a bronzista, a bronze ar­ti­san which makes ev­ery­thing from build­ing signs to keys and an epony­mous line-up of Ves­pas ... This street which I am de­scrib­ing is Via Santo Spir­ito, and is the heart and soul of the ar­ti­san dis­trict.

A re­cent stroll on a cool driz­zly af­ter­noon through this street show­ered me with the most amaz­ing de­sign shop­ping. My first stop was at Stu­dio Puck, at Via Santo Spir­ito, 28r. I was halted by this shop’s un­usual look: A long and dark vaulted space rem­i­nis­cent of a mad sci­en­tist’s lab filled with en­grav­ings and hand­made sketches of ev­ery­thing you can imag­ine, bees, but­ter­flies, ser­pents and anatom­i­cal frag­ments ren­dered with great care. Th­ese de­sign­ers can make al­most any­thing, from chan­de­liers to waste pa­per bas­kets, of course, all cus­tom.

If on your way to a din­ner party, the most won­der­ful and ex­otic blooms are found at Fio­r­ile, at Via Santo Spir­ito, 26r. The own­ers will hand-gather a beau­ti­ful bou­quet wor­thy of a still-life paint­ing and wrap it in twine and gross­grain bows for you to carry home with as much pride, and guar­an­teed to get you com­pli­ments along the way. Belle Fiori!

Across the street, “Lo Stu­di­olo” Ponziani, spe­cial­izes in fur­ni­ture restora­tion, as well as re­pro­duc­tion of pe­riod fur­nish­ings with such de­tails and fin­ishes to sat­isfy the most dis­cern­ing de­signer. As a tease, their en­try court­yard is filled with one-of-a-kind pieces and ob­jet d’art on sale, which make for the best souve- nirs if you have space in your lug­gage.

A city ac­cus­tomed to wel­com­ing visi­tors is well en­dowed with ho­tels of ev­ery kind. Be­side all the clas­sic grand ho­tels, one ho­tel stands out in par­tic­u­lar for its the­matic ap­proach to de­sign. The Ho­tel L’Orolo­gio, Pi­azza Santa Maria Novella, 24 is fac­ing Santa Maria in Novella, so the views are al­ready blessed. The interiors are in­spired around all the fancy watch brands of the world. There are cases filled with clas­sic time­pieces, in­clud­ing ab­stracted im­ages of watches hung as art. The tone is very much like that of a gen­tle­men’s club. Clas­sic tufted so­fas in vi­brant jewel tones and the lighted 1970s dance floor with watch de­coupage make this lounge the city’s place to be, a hit with both young and old.

An­other great de­sign des­ti­na­tion is the Sal­va­tore Fer­rag­amo Mu­seum in the Palazzo Spini Feroni, Pi­azza S.Trinita, 5r. The ex­hibit ex­plains the history of the Palazzo, the City of Florence and the evo­lu­tion of the Fer­rag­amo fam­ily from shoe­mak­ers to mod­ern day pa­trons of the city and the arts.

Joseph Pu­bil­lones

Art of De­sign

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