One of the things I love most about design is where inspiration comes from and how that inspiration can be translated into an interior through the choices of color, material, texture, and shape. While "theme rooms" can be a bit overwhelming, every space needs some kind of theme for direction. And the following newly opened café is a lovely example of this idea in a commercial design setting.
The Fondazione Prada, an offshoot of the Italian luxury brand, just opened a new "cultural complex" in Milan. The Foundation's Mission Statement:
"For the last two decades, the Fondazione Prada’s activities have analyzed intentions and relevance through an evolution of projects. These have included ‘Utopian’ monographic artist commissions, contemporary philosophy conferences, research exhibitions and initiatives related to the field of cinema. With the opening of a permanent cultural complex in Milano, the Fondazione offers new opportunities to enlarge and enrich our processes of learning."
Adjacent to the Foundation's new space is Bar Luce, a café/restaurant whose interior was commissioned from acclaimed filmmaker Wes Anderson. As expected, Bar Luce reflects the director's sensibilities with retro grey Formica countertops, sea foam green booths with padding in colors of pink icing and pistachio green, and a 1950s style terrazzo floor. And I LOVE that there is a "Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou" pinball machine!
The Bar Luce website describes it best:
"Designed by film director Wes Anderson, Bar Luce recreates the atmosphere of a typical Milanese cafè. Although his movies often favor symmetrical tableaux, Anderson feels that ‘there is no ideal angle for this space. It is for real life, and ought to have numerous good spots for eating, drinking, talking, reading, etc. While I do think it would make a pretty good movie set, I think it would be an even better place to write a movie. I tried to make it a bar I would want to spend my own non-fictional afternoons in.’
Some architectural and decorative details from the original structure have been preserved, such as the arched ceiling, which recreates a ‘miniature’ version of the vaulted glass roof of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, one of Milan’s symbolic buildings. Other key elements of the Galleria are replicated inside, creating a sort of patterned decoration for the top half of the bar.
In keeping with the interior design, the seats, formica furniture, floor, veneered wood wall panels and the range of colors employed are reminiscent of Italian popular culture and aesthetics from the 1950s and 1960s, echoing artistic decisions Anderson made years earlier for his short film ‘Castello Cavalcanti’. Other iconographic sources have been equally inspirational, notably two masterpieces of Italian Neorealism, both set in Milan: ‘Miracolo a Milano’ (Miracle in Milan, 1951, Vittorio De Sica) and ‘Rocco e i suoi fratelli’ (Rocco and His Brothers, 1960, Luchino Visconti).
The bar can be accessed directly from Via Orobia, and is meant to be a hotspot for the general public, as well as a regular neighborhood hangout.
Bar Luce is open daily, from 9AM to 10PM."
It looks like a charming place that is truly infused with the look and feel of Anderson's particular visions manifested in his films (if you are unfamiliar with his work, do yourself a favor and watch "The Royal Tennebaums" or "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" or his most recent masterpiece "The Grand Budapest Hotel!"). And if you find yourself in Milan, drop in to Bar Luce and tell us about it!