La Dolce Vita: Venice

By danielle

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“La Dominante”, “Serenissima”, “City of Water”, “City of Bridges” …. whatever you want to call it – I am sure we can all agree that Venice is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. We had the opportunity to spend a day (approx 6 hrs) in Venice and take in as much of this fabulous place as possible. We got lost in the narrow, windy streets, gazed at the amazing architecture as we rode the Vaporetto and sampled some of Italy’s best bellinis. For our loyal readers, we documented some of our must-see stops along the way:

Stop 1: Orsoni Foundry
This hidden gem is nestled behind high old walls and a large beautiful wooden door. We are lucky enough to know the lovely lady in charge of their PR (thanks JoAnn) and toured around this nineteenth-century glass furnace (aka the foundry of Angelo Orsoni) with the maestro himself, Lucio Orsoni. Although we were not able to take shots of the furnace, we did snap a few great ones of the unbelievable color library, which houses over 3,000 tones and shades. We met the talented workers and watched as they made each piece by hand. Lucio also gave us a peak into two of the five rooms that make up the Domus Orsoni (a magnificent B&B located on the premises. All of the rooms are enhanced with mosaic works by various Italian artists). We also met one of the students from the mosaic workshop (oh yes, the foundry has it all) who said it was the best experience of her life.

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Stop 2: Arsenale
Curated by American-born Aaron Betsky, “Out There: Architecture Beyond Building” is getting mixed reviews from the A&D community. We, being the positive bloggers that we are, found a few of the Arsenale’s 23 installations that tickled our fancy including the captivating entrance designed by Rockwell Group, in collaboration with Jones + Kroloff. Called the “Hall of Fragments,” the display is intended to connect visitors to an alternative architectural world and is done through an immersive and interactive environment constructed from iconic films. A shout out to Asymptote, the Manhattan-based practice established by Hani Rashid and Lise Ann Couture, who created “Prototyping the Future: Three Houses for the Subconscious.” The installation, conceived digitally, is comprised of three large sculptural fiberglass objects (forms that are neither house nor furniture) that are meant to inspire and provide an idea for future dwellings. One of our favorite exhibits was “S1NGLETOWN,” designed by Droog Design. If you couldn’t guess it from the name, the installation focused on the world of contemporary singles and presented eight different individuals including: the independent widow, the recently divorced and the global opportunist. We didn’t get a picture of it, but our favorite product in the town was the velcro jacket (named the “Jacket for Lonely People”) which would help one stick to a potential mate.

Stop 3: Giardini
We couldn’t leave Venice without seeing the national pavilions at the Biennale Gardens – especially the American Pavilion co-curated by our friend William Menking of The Architect’s Newspaper; Aaron Levy, The Slought Foundation: and Andrew Sturm, PARC Foundation. The pavilion themed “Into the Open: Positioning Practice” features 16 practitioners whom actively engage communities in their work. It looks at how architects can positively shape a community and the built environment. And for us (strong advocates of designing for the greater good) it was right up our alley. The list of participants included: non-profit associations such as the Heidelberg Project and the Edible Schoolyard; as well as the art and design collective REBAR; Rural Studio, the design-build architecture studio which aims to teach students about the social responsibilities of the profession of architecture while also providing well-constructed homes and buildings for poor communities in rural west Alabama and more.

With the day winding down, we peeked into as many of the other pavilions as possible including the Italian, the Swiss, the Belgian and the German. Then it was back on the Vaporetto to the Ferrovia for a 2 hour train ride back to Bologna for the beginning of CERSAIE.

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