Design destination: Florence
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.
Art of Design