Lugano, The Paradise

On the Southern tip of Switzerland, just an hour drive away from Milan, there’s a paradise called Lugano. I tell you, the sun shines here every single day, regardless of the season. Walk in the Parco Civico with the swans, sit down under a palm, take a sunbath on one of the boat piers, visit the small church located next to the street with all the boutiques or please your eye with the most beautiful vegetables (really!) at the nearby market. This town is forever in my heart and I always visit it when it’s on the way!

All photos by Edward Kanarecki.

Prada Delights in Milan

When in Milan, Prada, the word, the universe, takes a whole another dimension. It’s not just Miuccia Prada’s sophisticated, multi-faceted fashion, but also art. And sweets. Here you can choose between various Prada delights. Maybe the embellished red heels available at the label’s oldest flagship in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II? Or the delicious donuts filled with vanilla cream… or the pastel-pink marzipan cake from the brand-owned Marchesi 1824 patisserie on Via Monte Napoleone? Hard to resist any of that.

Prada / Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II 63-65

Marchesi 1824 / Via Monte Napoleon 9

All photos by Edward Kanarecki.

Fondazione Prada, Love You.

Hello in 2020! Just returned from the holidays and I really can’t wait to share with you all the places I’ve visited. Plus, the men’s fashion month has started in London, so be prepared for lots of newness in the first days of the decade! Which, by the way, took off with far too many sad events globally… this might be absolutely out of context, but if you mind and can, please donate a dollar or two (or more!) here to help Australia’s wildlife that’s suffering due to the hazardous fires. Or choose any other Australia-focused organisation (like Salvation Army and Red Cross) that will help the ones in need. It’s really time to take action (one of my New Year’s resolutions, by the way).

Back to the post’s topic. For the starter, Fondazione Prada in Milan. It was my second time here, and I love this place as much as I did a few years ago (here‘s a post from 2015 feauturing the pernament exhibition). The creator of Fondazione is, as the name suggests, Miuccia Prada, whose love for art is as strong as for fashion. Designed by Rem Koolhaas, the museum is built on the grounds of a former distillery. Throughout the time it expanded (the newest addition is the “Torre” – keep reading for more) and well rooted into Milan’s art landscape. The biggest reason behind visiting Fondazione Prada again – and Milan in general! – was the current exhibition: “Il sarcofago di Spitzmaus e altri tesori” (Spitzmaus Mummy in a Coffin and Other Treasures) conceived by Wes Anderson and Juman Malouf. Organized in collaboration with the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, the exhibition features 538 artworks and objects selected by the renowned film director and illustrator-writer from 12 collections of the Kunsthistorisches Museum and from 11 departments of the Naturhistorisches Museum in Vienna. Before taking a look at the photos I took there, let me tell you: it was an incredible experience.

The exhibition explores the reasons behind the decision to create a collection and the ways in which it is housed, presented and experienced. Looking back to the past and drawing inspiration on the model of the Wunderkammer, the exhibition challenges traditional museum canons, proposing new relations between the institutions and their collections, and between their professional figures and their public. The choice of exhibited works, based on a non-academic, interdisciplinary approach, not only illustrates Anderson and Malouf’s deep knowledge of the two museums, but also reveals unexpected parallels and resonances between the works included in the project and the creative universes of the two artists.The exhibition narrative is formed by groups of works: from green objects to portraits of children, from miniatures to timepieces, from boxes to wooden objects, from portraits of noblemen and common people to natural subjects like the garden as well as meteorites and animals presented as scientific exhibits or artistic depictions.

Spitzmaus Mummy in a Coffin and Other Treasures” was presented at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna from November 2018 to April 2019. The Milan exhibition is a second version with a larger display area and a greater number of exhibits. The original layout of rooms and vitrines, conceived by the two artist-curators with Itai Margula as a treasure chest, has been transported to the exhibition space of Fondazione Prada as a ready-made. The exhibition extends across the ground floor of the Podium to create a setting inspired by the Italian garden, with the presence of elements evoking hedges and allegorical pavilions typical of Renaissance garden. On view until the 13th of January!

Now, time for the rest of Fondazione Prada…

Bar Luce is probably the only museum cafeteria that sparks so many emotions. The place was conceived by Wes Anderson (those pastel colour combinations are unmistakably him) as “a space for real life with 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.” Delicious coffee and delightful marzipan cakes from Prada’s Marchesi 1824 patisserie (more on this soon!) are served here everday. Be aware of the lines!

Project Atlas emerged from a dialogue between Miuccia Prada and Germano Celant and is exhibited at the Torre. It hosts works from the Prada Collection displayed in a sequence of environments incorporating solos and confrontations, created through assonances or contrasts, between artists such as Carla Accardi and Jeff Koons, Walter De Maria, Michael Heizer and Pino Pascali, William N. Copley and Damien Hirst, John Baldessari (R.I.P.) and Carsten Höller (the upside down mushroom room!). The group of exhibited artworks, realized between 1960 and 2016, represents a possible mapping of the ideas and visions which have guided the creation of the collection and the collaborations with the artists that have contributed to the activities of the foundation throughout the years. Atlas therefore traces an evolving path between the personal and the institutional, open to temporary and thematic interventions, special projects and events, with possible integrations from other collections and institutions.

Other than Atlas and Podium spaces, Fondazione Prada also holds such venues as Cinema and the gold-plated Haunted Tower. This time, however, we didn’t manage to visit the latter, as there were no more tickets available. It’s the pernament collection of Robert Gober and Louise Bourgeois artworks – which we saw last time. But if you’re planning your trip here, make sure to book the tickets to every Fondazione space on-line or in advance! It’s really, really, really worth it.

Largo Isarco 2 / Milan

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All photos by Edward Kanarecki.

Hermès in Warsaw

Just a step from the entrance to one of Warsaw’s most refined and elegant hotels, Hotel Europejski, which is located in the historic Old Town district of the city (known as Krakowskie Przemieście), a very special opening took place a couple of days ago. It’s the first ever Hermès store in Poland. The light-filled, dripped in tones of honey, burgundy and beige interior was designed by the Paris-based RDAI interior design studio and is furnished in a signature, equestrian style, which is distinct to Hermès house codes. The marble floor is a black & white checkerboard, the furniture is all about French design classics, while the metallic screen displays silk and cashmere carré scarves and shawls (the bold Animapolis edition by Jan Bajtlik is its star!). Behind, you will see the iconic bags, and one of them will strike you the most: the Birkin designed especially for the Warsaw store, with a trompe l’oeil store façade intarsia. Take a few steps back, and to the right you will find a selection of Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski’s chic and terrifically luxurious womenswear and menswear; to the left, the store is supplied with homeware (think porcelain and blankets), fine jewellery and perfumes which are sold exclusively in Hermès flagship boutiques. In the past, I would never believe a brand like Hermès will open its doors (here, I emphasize a separate store, not just a ‘box’ in some department store…) in Poland. So believe me, visiting the brick-and-mortar space for the first time was an experience filled with excitement and… a kind of pride.

Krakowskie Przedmieście 13 / Warsaw

Photos by Edward Kanarecki.

Warsaw in November

Warsaw in November might sound grey and rainy (well…), but this doesn’t mean the capital of Poland loses any of its charm. Here are the places I’ve been to during my 48h trip to the city and I hope you get to see if you’re visiting anytime soon. Scroll down for more!

Magda Butrym no longer needs an introduction in the industry. At her core, the Polish designer stands for two things: local hand craftsmanship and fashion that’s playful, yet sophisticated. Her autumn-winter 2019 offers plenty of her signature floral mini dresses in updated silhouettes and statement, 80’s tailoring. But there are also new additions: one of the blazers has a huge black flower attached to it, making the look fantastically exagerrated, but not ridiculous. The handwoven oatmeal sweater is another highlight – it’s backless and comes with waist-cinching ties. As Butrym told Vogue, she’s “inspired by the romantic East”. Well, just look at the pleated silk frock covered in a folk-inspired poppy print and you will get it right away. Each Magda Butrym design is created in an old Warsaw home, where Butrym and her brother have carved out their family business in the old Polish style. She’s a leading Polish designer with countless retailers world-wide, but at the same time she stays where her home is, and consistently fuses her local surroundings with current obsessions, like cowboys or Dolly Parton, in her work.

Magda Butrym store-in-store / Redford & Grant / plac Marszałka Józefa Piłsudskiego 1-3

Regina Bar is a place that will surprise you with its culinary eclecticism. The cuisine is a fusion of Asian and Italian tastes, so don’t be surprised when you spot pizza with salty duck and hoisin sauce in the menu (by the way, it’s delicious!). Locals come here for the classical pork wontons and the crunchy General Tso’s Chicken. The signature cocktails are inspired with Sex & The City’s characters, but if you can’t choose between Carrie and Samantha, take the matcha. Booking a table in advance is recommended.

ul. Koszykowa 1

Zachęta National Gallery of Art is an institution whose mission is to popularise contemporary art as an important element of socio-cultural life. It’s a place where the most interesting phenomena of 20th and 21st century art are presented, especially focusing on Polish artists. Right now, Change the Setting. Polish Theatrical and Social Set Design of the 20th and 21st Centuries is one view. Its concept was born out of the original vision of Robert Rumas, a respected visual artist and set designer. The curator and his team of collaborators lead the viewers through 100 years of history, building the narrative of the exhibition according to an issue and theme-based layout and creating contextual references to earlier and later phenomena.The exhibition shows the most important set design phenomena shaping the space and aesthetics of theatre performances and political and social events in Poland in a new light. The large cross-sectional show is an innovative attempt at a comprehensive presentation of the process of evolution of set design: from the first reform of the theatre to contemporary times, taking into account the problems, phenomena, and resulting repercussions inherent in understanding the role of this field in the histories of Polish theatre and culture. Although the authors intent is not an academic approach to the subject or a linear presentation of the history of Polish set design, including the transformations of theatrical art, the exhibition encompasses key themes inscribed in the history of the theatre and issues faced by contemporary theatre in the broad context of current cultural, political and social phenomena. It’s one of the best exhibitions I’ve seen in a while in Warsaw: it surprises and makes you realise once again (especially if you’re a Pole) that Poland isn’t an easy country.

The exhibition is open until 19.01.2020 / plac Małachowskiego 3

Luxury vintage is rather a dead topic in Poland. It’s often a random splatter of Zanottis, Pleins, occasional fakes and God knows what else. Well, until I’ve discovered Alicja Napiórkowska’s Image House, which is the ultimate exception. Good, old Céline, Rick Owens, Yves Saint Laurent, Comme Des Garçons… brilliant.

Ul. Mokotowska 52

If you’re having a spare afternoon, take a trip to Wilanów Palace. The history of the palace, a wonderful Baroque royal residence, began in 1677, when a village became the property of King John Sobieski III. Augustyn Locci, the king’s court architect, received the task of creating only a ground floor residence of a layout typical for the buildings of the Republic of Poland. Huge construction works were conducted in the years 1677-1696. After completion, the building comprised of elements of a nobility house, an Italian garden villa and a French palace in the style of Louis XIV. After the death of the King, the Palace became the property of his sons, and in 1720, a run down property was purchased by one of the wealthiest women in Poland of those days – Elizabeth Sieniawska. In the middle of 18th century, the Wilanów property was inherited by the daughter of Czartoryski, wife of a field marshal, Izabela Lubomirska, during whose reign, Wilanów started shining with its previous glory. Sixty nine years later, the Duchess gave Wilanów to her daughter and her husband, Stanislaw Kostka Potocki. Thanks to his efforts, one of the first museums in Poland was opened in the Wilanów Palace, in 1805. The exposition consists of two parts: on the main floor you will be able to see the royal apartments of the palace. Rooms where parties took place, chambers where the royal couples listened to music, met their friends and guests, and where they worked and rested. The first floor is the most intriguing: the China-themed rooms. The Chinese Apartment is decorated with Chinoiserie paintings, wood engravings and wallpapers, and furnished with European pieces of furniture that imitated Chinese style. The collection of Far-East works of art amassed by Potocki was that of a true art admirer and a scholar, as he collected miscellaneous objects and products. A large number of the objects have been preserved to his day and form part of the contemporary Museum collection.

ul. Stanisława Kostki Potockiego 10/16

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All photos by Edward Kanarecki.