November 10, 2010

Firenze, Italia

Firenze, Italia .. what a beautiful life to live. I am nearing the end to an unforgettable semester abroad. Memories to last a lifetime. So far, I have traveled to Siena, Roma, Lucca, Cinque Terre, Parma, Modena, Bologna, Torino, Fiesole, and Venice. I also had the amazing opportunity to travel to Munich for the 200th anniversary of Oktoberfest! I have fallen in love with Italian culture and way of life; the real culture shock will be going back home in the states. Oh Massachusetts, although I do miss you, I wish I could spend more time in Italy.

A typical day: a twenty-five minute walk to school which starts off with a cappuccino from our favorite cafe a few blocks from our flat. Did I mention I must walk past the magnificent Duomo of Santa Maria del Fiore everyday? Gazing upon Brunelleschi's masterpiece reminds me why I came to study in Firenze and why my heart belongs to design. After classes I typically stroll home for a quick lunch of some fresh baked bread with some meats and cheeses, all from the fresh market five minutes from our flat. The afternoon is mine, if I am not working on schoolwork I can indulge in whatever I please. The best, walking. Walking wherever I wish to go I stumble on new places and admire those I already know so well. Dinner is my favorite time of the day. Cooking is another one of my passions and I absolutely love making elaborate dishes for all six of us lovely girls. Access to the best ingredients is incredibly easy. The food in Italy is AMAZING! My personal favorite, parmigiano-reggiano right from Parma. Another Italian specialty is their balsamic vinegar. On a trip to Modena I had the pleasure of tasting twelve and twenty-five year old balsamic and yes, it was like heaven in my mouth. Really.

I couldn't ask for more when it comes to my classes. All of my professors are top notch designers in their field. I feel as though I have learned so much so far this semester. In my lighting design class I created a custom light fixture using Cinema 4D. In my 3D Computer design class my professor rocked my socks off by telling us about all the awesome new computer programs we were going to learn. I got to learn how to use MeshLab, Cinema 4D and Rhino is on the way. In my studio class I got to design a Tuscan barn into a modern home for a family of four. For my final project I am working in a group with my close friend, Andrea. Retail design here I come and we decided were going to design a fair trade store which sells coffee, trinkets, and flowers! Speaking of final projects, it is very sad to think about the fact that I will be leaving this wonderful country in a few short weeks.

I will be posting more from my time here in Italia; some projects along with some case studies of retail stores targeted for their lighting design. It should be molto interessante!

Ciao! -av

Dodo Boutique

Dodo Boutique
Via de' Tornabuoni 39/41r Firenze, Italia

Dodo Boutique is a small specialty jewelry store in the heart of the shopping district in Florence. Their clientele consists of dedicated jewelry lovers who keep coming back for more of Dodo’s spectacular gems. If customers are not coming back for the jewelry, it is because they want to spend time inside the beautiful boutique designed by Paola Navone.

The design in Dodo Boutique is based around the concept of the extinct bird the dodo. This fairytale-like shop is complete with eccentric colors, organic shapes, and fantastic lighting. The experience begins from the street; people gazing into the store windows with curiosity, wondering whether or not they should enter. If you are brave enough to go in, you must first tackle the substantial front door that takes your from the busy streets of Florence into the mystical world of the dodo. The amazing design of Dodo has a great deal to do with the lighting. Large awnings hang over the dark glass front windows; the store depends greatly on the use of luminaries. The lack of daylight with the use of luminaries sets the mood for Dodo. From the aluminum tile floors to the green tube ceiling, the lighting in Dodo exemplifies the products perfectly, and completes the design throughout.

The general lighting of the boutique is carried out by directional luminaries with parabolic reflectors. A sea of green tubes suspend vertically from the ceiling, encompassing the luminaries so that they are hidden. The placement and quantity of luminaries is perfect, no space in the boutique is over or under lit. Blotches of light hit the aluminum tile floor and dissipate, illuminating the whole boutique and its products. Above, patches of the ceiling glow where a luminary exists; this exemplifies the extremely unique ceiling. Luminaries towards the walls direct down on them, acting as wall washers. They run up and down the whole store, showcasing the unique walls which look as if a person was drawing designs in wet sand.

Smaller circular luminaries are used throughout the boutique for lighting display cases. For the display cases in the wall, luminaries are fixed above the jewelry, hidden by green tubes. Jewelry rests atop green display fixtures; the light balances this with the green tubes above making the display case very appealing to the eye. Another display case rests on a table; customers look down at the products opposed to at eye level. This case is illuminated by round luminaries that are housed in a bronze pedestal. The bronze fixture is curved downwards onto the jewelry. This lighting technique is perfect; the fixtures blend great with the jewelry and come across as a piece of art.

If you look down, circular blue luminaries will catch your eye and drag you down a hallway of wonder. These luminaries are flush with the floor and are placed in juxtaposition from the end of the hallway to almost the front of the store. The floor luminaries travel down the center of the hallway, illuminating a blue path. At the end of the hallway there is a vertical blue fluorescent tube fixed to the wall which illuminates the area surrounding in a bright blue. The ceiling in the hallway is arched; at the point where the wall joins the ceiling there is recessed horizontal blue fluorescent tubes. This indirect lighting washes the ceiling and renders it blue. The hallways is like the front windows of the boutique, you look inside in amazement, wondering what is in it and if you should enter.

My overall opinion of the design of Dodo is that it is a spectacular work of art. The design showcases the products in such a way that it is an experience to buy jewelry from Dodo. Not overwhelming, the finishes and materials made the store fun and friendly while also conveying impressive elegance. The placement of the luminaries in the ceiling was superb; the array of luminaries made the floor and ceiling look alive and you felt as if you were really inside a dodo habitat. The lack of daylight and the privacy of the dark windows also followed through with making the boutique feel like a different world. Experiencing life on the wild side while shopping for jewelry, what a concept.