Modern references only talk about Milan as one of the four fashion capitals of the world and the fashion houses that call it home but there is more to Milan than meets the eye. Milano has always been more than its perception, and its history of art and design flows into its reputation as a center for trade and commerce. Millinery is a craft that has its roots in Milano and so does the craft of shoemaking. Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper is placed here and many don’t know but this was where the first recording in the history of music took place. This city has always been known for its artisans and manufacturing of fashion goods but how many know about its iconic Opera performers, poets, and artists? Well, there are hotels in the city that have documented these historic events and some clandestine ones too. These boutique and luxury hotels have taken to art and design to stay true to Milan’s reputation as a fashion and art capital. Some of them have a surreal feel and abstract art while others add contemporary touches to the treasured space.
Grand Hotel et de Milan
Symbol of Milanese high life and culture, The Grand Hotel et de Milan has had a prolific history of 150 years. The 19th-century hotel for celebrated guest in Milan has had many milestones like recording the first flat LP in music history, hosting royalties and most certainly being the chosen residence of the legendary Maestro Giuseppe Verdi. The design of the hotel has seen many refurbishments in over the century, the most significant being in 1931 and after World War II. With each renovation, the hotel had innovative additions to its facilities. It was the first Italian hotel to provide postal service and telegraph and that drew the businessmen to host their meetings and stays at the hotel. Art has always been integral to the hotel’s understated design and luxurious amenities and the recent renovation by Dimore Studio, Milan has preserved traditions with a dash of contemporary design. Besides the grand suite where the Maestro lived for nearly three decades, there are dedicated apartments paying homage to its previous residents. The parquet floors, period furniture from the 18th century and marble bathrooms have been maintained and utilised mostly discreetly to suit the refined interiors and design of the hotel. History and love for art are thematic in the design keeping in mind the regal past enriched by the residents’ personal journeys. There are numerous pieces of precious art, artefacts, precious patina and references that give a peek into the historic treasure trove of the hotel. The proximity to La Scala Opera house has always been beneficial to the hotel and its guests. The Opera gave the hotel its legendary guests Giuseppe Verdi and Enrico Caruso. The dedicated apartment of Enrico Caruso showcases the room where some of the arias of the Opera called “Germania” was photographically recorded as the first flat LP in music history for £100. While in the Verdi suite the maestro regained his passion and strength to return to the Opera after having suffered the deaths of his beloved wife and children.
For more details visit http://www.grandhoteletdemilan.it/
In contrast to Milanese Gothic Revival architecture, Vincenzo De Cotiis has given an abstract and unprocessed feel to the Straf’s design and interior. The materials are natural and depend on the play of light for the expression of the art. Cotiis has use bare cement, oxidised copper and split slate; torn and aged gauze trapped between sheets of glass forming auto-illuminating elements. Although the choice of material and its treatment lend an unprocessed feel, it surprisingly elevates the refinement of the design and space. The STRAF is an artisanal project to tear up the blueprint of hotel design and redesign entirely. The types of rooms are distinguished by its characteristic materials of black slate or cement combined with burnished brass and mirrored walls. The focus material is evident from the bathrooms which are fitted with worn mirrors and designer sinks to the tailor made chairs, sofas, and the lighting. The Bar at the hotel has an industrial feel with concrete walls, floor and iron panels. Recycled second-hand pieces, like the large, apple green Plexiglas chandelier from the 70’s, the shaped recycled fiberglass panels with magnifying lenses set and the brown leather patchwork sofa, combine with specially created pieces: the huge pictures silk-screened on metal and the counter, situated directly across the entrance, the only brand new element in the furnishings. There is a rhythmic oscillation between the retro chic to the futuristic design. Throughout the hotel eclectic choices of collectibles, art and lighting accentuate the design further from the material used on the floor and walls. The top floor is a mini gallery displaying the works of art collected over the ten years since the hotel opened.
For more details visit http://straf.it/
SINA The Gray Hotel Milan
In the heart of the fashion capital of Italy, SINA The Gray Milan overlooks the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping arcade. The facade of the hotel is ART Nouveau and has some very eclectic design combining old and new. The hotel has an overall sense of spa or zen feel to it thanks to the design elements in use. Bamboos, wood, fabrics from Africa and modern lines and muted tones with soothing lights let you relax amidst the bustling city life of Milan. The boutique hotel has just 21 rooms and a restaurant and bar with gym facility. For more details visit http://www.sinahotels.com/eng/hotel_the_gray/
NH Milano Palazzo Moscova
Originally designed by the architect Giulio Sartim, the hotel’s building was to be Milan’s first railway station, the Porta Nuova in 1840. The facade still stands witness to its history with a vault like architecture in the interiors. Today the hotel has collaborated with the fashion label of Maison Moschino and the team to design an abstract fashion themed rooms and spaces. The hotel is bathed in white and the lighting plays on the evocative designs. There is a sense of an atelier in most rooms and some are like fashion stores. The chandeliers are of particular interest some with dangling cupcakes and tarts while some with sleep symbols. There are beds layered with rose petalled texture and some with ribbons. It all adds to the surreal feel of the hotel quite a departure from its mid 19th-century beginnings with a neoclassical facade. The hotel is at a walking distance from the chic Corso Como street. There is a Moschino showroom at the entrance to the Maison. You can hire personal shoppers or personalised tours. For more details visit http://www.nh-hotels.com/hotel/nh-milano-palazzo-moscova