Places – Design & Living (April 2019)

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PLACES ISSUE 27 APRIL 2019

CHINESE TERRACOTTA FIGURES ANCIENT ARTEFACTS REBORN FROM BURIAL

Transposing art onto fabrics TO EXTEND A PAINTING’S SPACE

Design & Living

NOT YOUR TYPICAL BEACH HOUSE A boho-eclectic feel For successful holiday living

OPPOSING NATURE

TO BUILD IN SYNC




THE BLUEPRINT

PLACES

Design & Living

ISSUE 27 APRIL 2019

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MY DESIGN

THE PROJECT 10 From a Plain Canvas... Sculpting out a space THE [INTERNATIONAL] PROJECT 16 Organic Chemistry Cliché-free coastal home 24 IDEAS & MORE 28 The Retreat Respecting nature and responsible building 35 LIVING DESIGN The Future of Automobiles, Imagined On Italian Design Day HOME DÉCOR 39 DOING IT UP: DO/DON’T Made of the Right Material Durable windows and doors 40 TRENDS Touch Wood! Natural and sustainable for warmer outdoors 47 TIPS Getting the Light Right Illuminating the outside 50 PROJECT PEOPLE From Canvas to Cushion Giving paintings a new life DESTINATION, HERITAGE & ENVIRONMENT 56 GOING PLACES Combining Cuisine and Culture On an offbeat food trail 58 CONSERVATION CORNER Made in China Terracotta antiquities restored 62 SACRED SPACES Top of The Word Rooftop biblical garden 66 WHAT. WHERE. WHEN. WHY.

ON THE COVER PHOTO: RECOOP LTD See story on page 58

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PHOTO: MATTHEW MIRABELLI See story on page 50




MY DESIGN

I MUST commend whoever is behind @uglymalta on Instagram for not only capturing the most hideous specimens of so-called architecture on the island [that’s not the hard part], but also for their hilarious [in the face of desperation] comments under each image and the creation of a wall that sums up the sheer vileness of our built environment. Two words: “Xi kruha!” To be fair, they don’t have such a hard job filling the brief. But still, they are creating a collage of the country we live in that, crammed together on the screen of a mobile phone, concentrates and exposes the harsh reality we often take for granted and accept as part of who we are. We see it wherever we go, but to read those exact same expletives, the sarcasm, the one-liners, the dead-panning etc… well, let’s just say… it softens the blows. I feel I know these hidden voices. I feel I would know their faces. But it’s beside the point… They speak for many voiceless Maltese. @uglymalta is about “fighting ugly buildings, cheap development, crappy architecture, shitty streets”. As you can see, it doesn’t seek to be polite about it and highlights the general ‘shittiness’ with more of the same. “Malta you were beautiful once. No longer.” Point-blank. To date, this Instagram account has 233 posts, and if you scroll down, you sink deeper into the pits of horror, hitting a brick wall – literally! It’s that party wall of blocks of flats that look no different from the block next door – top marks to the architect for originality and creativity, but if only it stopped there.

The latest post until the time of writing aptly describes the image as: “A shit left to dry in the sun.” We can all imagine the colour that was used to make sure this same old eyesore hurts the eyes even more. The reference to excrement is frequent, driving the point home. And it is followed by the question: “Perit, x’għamilt hemm?” You can feel the disbelief. In fact, the blame is often placed squarely on those architects who are doing nothing to improve our lives by shaping our environment, which has such an impact on our quality of life. About a Pietà development proposal: “Maltese periti – kindly generating our content since forever. Thanks, but no thanks. Madonna no.” The first post dating back to August 2017 says: “Malta you were ugly once, but the money is good now.” Enough said. Random picks show: “Ugly volumes, ugly streets, ugly pavements, ugly detailing, ugly wires, ugly balconies, ugly windows, ugly streetlights, ugly stairs, ugly AC units, ugly water tanks, ugly front gardens. “Normalisation of chronic ugliness.” In fact, how much ‘ugly’ can you actually find in one Instagram picture? “Incredibly grey, incredibly clumsy, incredibly bulky, and well on its way to being incredibly ugly.” Does that ring a bell? Throughout, you stumble across other “stunners”, which highlight a scary divide in taste and aesthetics in this country, and no one at the top to set the parameters. “Setting new standards. Exploring the absolute limits of hideousness. So skilful, it’s almost an art,” is the caustic caption to another picture. All the while, however, the tongue-incheek comments are so funny that you find yourself smiling, if not laughing, when you would normally cry. The “elegant proportions” of Malta’s dwellings stand out most of all, while cables and wires play a major role in the façades. “Apply now to avoid disappointment,” reads one post of a ghastly property. Estate agents have not been spared either: “We sell property from terrible property, but trust us, we know a great property when we see one.”

April 14, 2019 | Issue 27 | PLACES is a bi-monthly magazine | EXECUTIVE EDITOR Fiona Galea Debono | PUBLISHER Allied Newspapers Ltd | PRODUCTION Allied Newspapers Ltd  | PRINTING Progress Press Ltd | DESIGN Manuel Schembri | ADVERTISING SALES Veronica Grech Sant [2276 4333; veronica.grechsant@timesofmalta.com]

We’ve probably heard this one before: “Wow so luxury designer amazing premium location wow so much palm tree.” And of course, there’s a Porsche parked in the artist’s impression. “Wow kemm ġie sabiħ! Prosit! ” Yet another observation: “Landmark building bringing together all of the best features of Maltese architecture: badly built, no design, f*** context [well, tbf context is lovely too], tiny and ugly [top-notch], copy-paste, elegant washroom. All round piece of shit. Well done to all involved.” To an image superimposed with a high-rise building, the comment is desperate: “Visual chaos. With or without proposed tower makes no difference – eye bleed either way.” Highlighting outlandish colour schemes and “outstanding” finishes makes us realise that what we have started to take for granted is quite unacceptable, and while all this is being raised, I notice that the only stunning house in the road leading to the Naxxar church is down. Dead. Gone. Forever. And we’re back to the comparison with faeces: they show a ‘beauty’ in the making in Zebbug. “Apparently to be painted brown once finished. Because what Zebbug and Malta really need right now is new brown apartments.” Some buildings have been compared to penitentiaries, and rightly so. The ‘ugly’ deteriorates to “criminally ugly” as we progress. Sometimes the shock is palpable. The reaction to a proposed development in Gizra is: “Jesus Christ, what the actual f*** is that?” You see, there is another side to all that is happening out there. A side that notices and is offended by the terrible signage on façades, even the cheap window frames… “Anything but quaint. When they are done with #laqwazmien will there be anything left?” Maybe then, and only then, will these guys run out of pictures to post. Check out what progress is all about @uglymalta, and while you are at it, follow PLACES: DESIGN & LIVING on Instagram @placestommag. Sometimes, we almost run out of pictures. We seek out the beautiful things, and it’s getting harder and harder.

This publication is being distributed as part of © 2019. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole, or in part, without written permission of the publishers, is prohibited.

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THE PROJECT

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FROM A PLAIN CANVAS...

This 80-square-metre Sliema apartment required several structural alterations for space allocation and the design concept. And the end result by Sean Cassar from Design Hub Malta is ‘sculpted’ in its own way. PHOTOS: DESIGN HUB MALTA

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THE PROJECT

WITH THE excessive number of apartments being built and on the market, what makes this one stand out in terms of interior design? The detailed use of every millimetre within the space and having all mechanical and electrical systems integrated within the design, respecting all standard heights, as well as the use of customised furniture throughout the apartment are what make it stand out. How hard is it to come up with something original and unique these days, and are most apartments lacking that soul and looking like carbon copies of each other, without any individuality injected into these plain standard canvases? Every project I take on would need to be ‘sculpted’ in a unique way; otherwise, there is no passion in it for me. I see every project as a plain canvas and the client’s aura and brief become the tools to start painting on it.

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What do you believe people are looking for in their homes these days and how does this apartment fill this general brief? Budget is always an extremely pivotal, make-or-break factor for a client. In many cases, they do not understand how important an investment it is to have somebody behind them every step of the way. Without a designer’s services, the concept and space allocation can never be achieved.

What would you say is the trademark Design Hub Malta touch here? Or does this vary with every project? The Design Hub touch is different for every project, but always has the same mindset. The fun part is sculpting and marrying materials throughout the space, depending on the client, location and concept. In this case, the kitchen/living/ dining/corridor is a space allocation achievement, thanks to the

THIS HAS CREATED A FLOATING WALL FOR A PAINTING ON THE DINING SIDE We take on projects with a budget that makes sense since there is always a minimum spend to have general amenities etc... Then it’s all about balancing that budget according to the zones and particular features within the space.

cantilevered TV unit, back to back with the dining area. This has created a floating wall for a painting on the dining side. Access is also created through passages on each side of the unit, reducing bottlenecks throughout the generally tight space.


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THE PROJECT

What would you consider to be the most important elements of the design that brought everything together? The TV unit; the kitchen and corridor as one whole block; and the conceptual sculpting of the false ceiling with attention to ambient and general lighting throughout. And what was the most challenging aspect of the project? That would be keeping the floor build-up to a minimum although using a mix of different natural materials and passing of services. The biggest challenge was respecting the minimum heights required while offering all the functional mechanical and electrical services throughout the space.

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How would you describe the look and feel of the apartment and how was this achieved in terms of materials, colours, textures chosen? The client is always the brief. This particular lawyer is a clean and organised character, who really enjoys attention to detail. The feel is minimalist, achieved mostly through the use of neutral tones, with a splash of colour in specific areas. Do you prefer to work with four blank walls of a modern space, or a property full of natural features to play around with? Both can work for me. The client is always the biggest factor on limitations as to how far I can take the conceptual design and how much budget can be thrown at the space and features proposed.

Getting along with the client and enjoying the process can also make or break the project, while the choice of contractors and suppliers can become the downfall of a project. Sometimes, the client is so deeply concerned about saving the pennies that very important jobs are awarded to cheaper and less professional contractors. It’s a saving at the time, but a handicap in the long run. Generally, this results in the project taking much longer than it ever should have, with a domino effect of problems affecting other elements of the build, which would then need more investment to rectify. As a result, the project may be finished, but never as well as if the designer’s recommendations where acknowledged from the start.



THE [INTERNATIONAL] PROJECT

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PHOTOS: WARREN HEATH STYLING: SVEN ALBERDING

ORGANIC CHEMISTRY A coastal home decorated by two close friends finds its refreshingly cliché-free feel through a craft-inspired aesthetic, one-off finds and colourful artwork. Julia Freemantle discovers…

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THE [INTERNATIONAL] PROJECT

A HOLIDAY home poses a very particular challenge to a designer – it must be all things to all people. An oasis of calm, a beacon of fun, a showcase for signature style – it needs to tick all the boxes, but not at the expense of any single one. This kind of task needs a cohesive team and a clear vision, and this particular beach house in Plettenberg Bay – one of the most popular and sought-after spots on South Africa’s Garden Route coastal stretch, and an idyllic holidaymakers town – had both, as well as benefitting from the fact that the pair in question are longtime friends. A lot of thought went into creating spaces for everyone – from a study to escape to when the house is noisy and a pool room for the owners’ teenage sons to spend time with their friends, to generous bedrooms that could convert easily to accommodate friends and family – a key element of successful holiday living. Designer Kim Stephen, who now lives and works in London, and owner Anthea Newbury set out on what would become a two-year adventure, travelling together and sourcing around the country – Cape

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Town, Johannesburg and Plettenberg Bay – picking up pieces that fit their vision organically as they found them. Anthea and her husband Anton had already narrowed down what they wanted to something that could be nutshelled as ‘boho/eclectic’ and they needed someone to bring it to life when they brought Kim on board. “They had already started building the home and had a clear idea of what they were looking for. We’ve been close friends for many years, so I felt I could do justice to their lifestyle, but I was also excited to leave my own aesthetic behind and go along on the journey of realising their creative vision,” says Kim. This included steering clear of coastal clichés. “We did not want a typical ‘beach house’ – you know, blue and white with whitewashed wood. Nothing ‘shabby chic’,” Anthea cringes. “And yet, we also didn’t want ultra-modern, balanced, or set décor, but rather an almost unplanned, throwntogether feel.” So somewhere in the middle, they set out to find the sweet spot, sophisticated but relaxed. “While it


WE ALSO DIDN’T WANT ULTRA-MODERN, BALANCED, OR SET DÉCOR, BUT RATHER AN ALMOST UNPLANNED, THROWN-TOGETHER FEEL

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THE [INTERNATIONAL] PROJECT

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LOOSELY INSPIRED BY DESTINATIONS LIKE THE MEDITERRANEAN IN GENERAL, AND IBIZA IN PARTICULAR, THE IDEA WAS TO FILL THE SPACE WITH INTERESTING FINDS AND ODDITIES, AND BEAUTIFUL ARTWORK, AGAINST THE BACKDROP OF A STRONG WHITE AND NATURAL PALETTE, TO CREATE A CURATED AND COLLECTED FEEL is a family home – our boys are in their late teens – we could afford to up the glamour factor a bit and were very aware of comfort without compromising on style,” explains Anthea. Loosely inspired by destinations like the Mediterranean in general, and Ibiza in particular, the idea was to fill the space with interesting finds and oddities, and beautiful artwork, against the backdrop of a strong white and natural palette, to create a curated and collected feel. Anthea’s vision from the beginning was interesting, layered and offbeat. Not too balanced, nor too ‘decorated’. Colour too, needed a bit of compromise. “I like a lot of it, my husband less so, so we had to find a happy medium,” she explains.

Kim is known for her jewel-box use of colour, so between the three of them, a clever and democratic approach needed to be found. As a result, most of it is seen in the artwork – where the rest of the décor has a breezy white base with blue and black accents, the pieces pop in kaleidoscopic colour – a smart and sophisticated solution that creates a thread out of the art that runs throughout the house and highlights it as a feature. “One of our greatest passions is collecting art,” agrees Anthea. And though the selection might appear unexpected, the pieces, which range from oils to installations, were carefully selected to enhance each space – either by adding colour, or by throwing off the balance in a room.

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THE [INTERNATIONAL] PROJECT

NATURAL TEXTURES WERE INEVITABLE IN ORDER TO CREATE A HOME COMFORTABLE IN ITS SURROUNDINGS, AND THE DÉCOR SCHEME FEATURES WOOD, RAFFIA AND BASKETRY PROMINENTLY Something they all agreed on, however, was that rustic was a swearword and stereotypes were out. That said, they did want to draw on the location as inspiration – something the property as a whole does [the garden was planned as an extension of the dune, using coastal planting to create a continuum]. So natural textures were inevitable in order to create a home comfortable in its surroundings, and the décor scheme features wood, raffia and basketry prominently.

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THE [INTERNATIONAL] PROJECT

Kim and Anthea were each other’s monitors here, and put each other right if either strayed slightly off, or too far into beach-house territory, always pulling it back to the boho brief, a complementary partnership that kept the house on point.

“We were each other’s counterpoints – I sometimes tempered Anthea’s wilder ideas, but she also stretched my creativity, as this house is non-conformist in many ways,” comments Kim. Her approach that a cocooning base needs to balance high drama was perfectly in sync with the family’s need for easy elegance – playful, but perfectly appointed.

IDEAS & MORE ON THE ROCKS Looking for outdoor tiles? Rocks by Kronos Ceramiche is so exceptionally weather-resistant and long-lasting that it is suitable for the outdoors; ideal for chill-out areas and pools. Rocks comes in six different natural colours, each with its own particular texture. It is available exclusively from Bathroom Design, Naxxar Road, B’kara.

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COMFORT AND PLEASURE The new Tuscany Outdoor Bubble Spa from HomeTrends combines revolutionary design and legendary performance, featuring a super durable double-wall-fabric material with excellent durability and extremely lightweight. With an exterior inspired from wooden texture and modern exterior colours, it’s not only a hot tub that comforts the body, but also a beautiful piece of furniture that pleases the eye. The Tuscany Outdoor Bubble Spa is available as a four- and also as a six-seater spa. Visit HomeTrends in San Gwann or Zebbug, Malta; call on 2144 5654. www.hometrends.com.mt





THE [INTERNATIONAL] PROJECT

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PHOTOS: PETER KOREN, CHRISTIAN FLATSCHER

THE RETREAT

“Architecture is space that inspires, changes, enriches us,” says Austrian architect Peter Lorenz from Lorenz Ateliers, who designed this refuge outside Innsbruck.

THIS INNSBRUCK house by Lorenz Ateliers is located on a hill in the family’s estate on the southern slope above the city, with 360-degree views onto the Tyrolean mountains. The old house of the grandparents was demolished to make way for a new “adventure into the uncertain”, says architect Peter Lorenz. After five years of planning, doubt, reflection, interruptions, the project was completed last year. The first Christmas card after the move showed pictures of the house and a quote from the architect from the time of the collaboration: “Architecture is space that inspires, changes, enriches us,” he had said. And that is what this house set out to achieve. The longitudinal axis of the long and narrow building site is located on beautiful grounds and is the “imaginary connection” between the hunting lodge on the

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THE [INTERNATIONAL] PROJECT

NATURE SHOULD NEVER BE CORRECTED

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Hechenberg in the west and the family business in the city centre. The surrounding panorama and natural setting are breath-taking. What is effectively a concrete box appears to be so light and literally floating, but Lorenz admits it was no mean feat. Many 3D models and sketches later, they found the solution “for something to look so easy and self-evident”, but at the cost of an “enormous effort”. The lines of the building are rigid and yet it flows seamlessly into the natural setting. This is the result of a respect for nature – the only religion Lorenz follows – and his sense of responsibility towards the planet, he explains. Nature should never be corrected. “Everything man builds, he incurs a debt with nature… The architect – through enormous devotion – can keep this guilt as low as possible.” Lorenz believes that architecture should not compete with nature, but it should present the opposite – the geometry. And that’s what he did here. The house would appear to be built on water, but Lorenz says that is “just a dream”. It is actually on an artificial pond, with natural filtering. From the sauna, modelled on the original Finnish hut, with cladding in carbonised wood, you can jump directly into it. Sitting on the bank, the sauna hut houses the old parlour of the grandparents. It was saved from the demolished building and assembled here. The living room/kitchen open onto the setting sun, while the fireplace and children’s rooms look over to the city centre, and from the top is yet another view of Innsbruck. The only slit in the building is cut into the northern façade, where an elevator can be comfortably docked in the future if the steps become too difficult to negotiate, Lorenz explains. As for all the glass and the supposed lack of privacy it may bring along, Lorenz says curtains would do the trick. The advantage, on the other hand, is to have nature in the house; that feeling of living outside. The single-storey staircase divides the building into two parts so that the east side can also accommodate two small, separate, one-room apartments for guests. This concept works well with single-family dwellings, which quickly become too big after the children have left the nest... In fact, Lorenz finds it difficult to reconcile the planning of single-family homes with his conscience: they require too many resources and too much use of the landscape, while contributing little to urbanisation. “As a rule, we critically examine the wishes of the interested parties for an individually planned family home and offer alternatives, because the costs for small units grow exorbitantly, the required commitment of the builder is always underestimated and the planning effort is immense,” Lorenz says about working on single-family homes. In this case, the happiness the house has imparted made the mission worth it…

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THE [INTERNATIONAL] PROJECT

So what is the secret to building such a modern structure in the heart of nature and yet retaining the harmony, without disturbing the peaceful environment? “The secret is a certain modesty, artlessness, and elementariness, simplicity, ‘designlessness’…” It also lies in the consciousness on the part of the client of what is necessary, the quality, the spaces, without being distracted from the fundamentals by the needlessness, redundancy and decoration, Lorenz adds. Asked about the starting point of the project and what he set out to create, Lorenz thinks the major problem of architects is actually if they want to create, have ideas and a lot of fantasy. This is the

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reason for so many failures, he insists, and so many projects show the worrying psychological status of some architects and their clients. “I try my best not to start with the desire to create some super idea. The architect must, first of all, observe, perceive, read, understand a site, a location, a client. He has to start like a child from zero! “Once a situation has been understood, the requirements defined and the surroundings respected, only then can the architect start to try out, to sketch, to build models etc…”




LIVING DESIGN

THE FUTURE OF AUTOMOBILES, IMAGINED A few weeks ago, St George’s Square in Valletta and the Italian Cultural Institute were the stage for the future of the automobile during this year’s Italian Design Day, Cars, Design and the City of the Future. Here, one of the founding fathers of autonomous vehicles and the testimonial chosen for Malta by the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Michael Vernon Robinson, tells Iggy Fenech why, in a world where change happens rapidly, beauty is no longer sufficient for Italian car design. IN 1996, Michael Vernon Robinson discovered the World Health Organisation’s yearly report that outlines how many people died, at what age, in which country and for what reason. What shocked him most was that road accidents contributed over one million deaths. “It was at that time that I told myself it had to stop, and that the only way to entirely eliminate all road casualties and all road accidents was to remove human errors in the driving process by getting rid of steering wheels. I guess I was predicting the future 23 years ago, but everyone told me I was an idiot back then,” he points out. Michael proved to be a very wise ‘idiot’ as in his role of design director at Lancia Design Centre, he and his team went on to create the first two autonomous cars in Europe: the Lancia Dialogos, a luxury sedan when it comes to seating, and the Lancia Nea, which featured all the early audiovisual software developed in-house. “Today, every automobile manufacturer on the planet is developing autonomous vehicles, which will soon arrive on the market, and will eventually replace our drivable cars. While not all hows, whens,

wheres, and whys have been determined, there is no turning back.” While Michael was born and studied in the US, Italy has been his home for the past few decades, during which he has worked for some of the world’s most recognisable brands and where he became one of the founding fathers of autonomous vehicles in 1998, when he presented Europe’s first autonomous car at the Torino Auto Show.

Today, every automobile manufacturer on the planet is developing autonomous vehicles, which will soon arrive on the market, and will eventually replace our drivable cars But what else has Michael done to be chosen by the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs as one of the 100 Italian ambassadors to take Italian design to as many countries as possible in 2019? Well, quite a lot, actually. During his time as executive design director and brand manager at Stile

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Bertone [2009-2013], his team presented cutting-edge concept cars at the Geneve Auto Show on a yearly basis, including the Alfa Romeo Pandion Centennial, the Bertone Nuccio Centennial, the Aston Martin Jet 2+2 and the Jaguar B99 and B99GT. Before that, at Fiat Design Centre [2001-2005], his team worked closely with French partners PSA to create the multi-brand delivery van and sales champion, Fiat Ducato. Meanwhile, as partner, CEO and design director of ED Design [2014-2018], he helped his firm win many competitions in China for production and concept cars. And that’s not to mention that, during his time at Lancia [19962001], his team designed the 1999 personal limousine for Pope John Paul II, the Lancia Giubilee, which he presented personally to His Holiness; or that, since last year, Michael’s job title has changed to founder and principle of One-Off Design Studio, which creates unique and exclusive aesthetics for high-performance, street-legal prototypes. “Italians have two extremely important characteristics that elevate their design activities above all other countries,” he explains. “The first is an incredible intuition for form and proportion; something that has given them worldwide recognition for beauty since the Michelangelo and Leonardo days. The second is that they love to break the rules!” Elaborating on his second point, he says: “When most people leave the beaten path of following the leaders, they usually do something stupid and are laughed at. Instead, Italian creatives are nonconformists by nature, and have an amazing track record as game-changers, and the rest of the world follows their innovative breakthroughs. “Today, unfortunately, the Italian beauty experts in the car design industry have fallen way behind in the technology race towards zero-emission vehicles and autonomous vehicles; two extremely hot areas that are obviously not tied directly to aesthetics.” Michael, however, has been developing and preaching in this area for the past 20 years, with his advanced vision in design continually producing irreversible realities that have helped, and will continue to help, to save millions of lives and transform our cities and societies. And it was this that he focused on during his presentation at Malta’s Italian Design Day, which was hosted by the Italian Cultural Institute and the Embassy of Italy in Malta, in collaboration with Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology [Mcast]. “An easy analogy is the smartphone,” he continues. “How many people appreciate the external beauty of the physical object, and how many people prefer the incredible things they can do with the virtual applications inside? This is the paradox of modern car design: how can we design more exciting cars for 2025, when many paradigms are changing, like sound [from powerful, gas-guzzling, thermal engines to silent, efficient, electric engines] and control

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[from the thrill of driving, which causes 1.3 million road casualties every year, to autonomous vehicles, with a virtual chauffeur and no steering wheel]? This is going to completely transform the future of mobility across the planet and it’s the designer’s job to find ways to make these transformations attractive!” All this was also looked at in the context of Malta, which Michael calls “a micro US or China, about the size of Piedmont”. This, he argues, makes it easier for the government to turn the country into a world leader by becoming an innovation laboratory. Malta would use Design Thinking [a methodology where design is used to solve complex problems] to analyse complex scenarios like the New Mobility Ecosystem [such as the use of

For people like Michael, design isn’t just about visuals, but about experiences that can make our lives easier, more enjoyable, and which generate well-being in a stress-filled society

on-demand transportation as opposed to owning a car] and the Next Generation Academic Ecosystem [learning based on collaboration] to implement cutting-edge solutions for a fraction of the budget and then sell those tried-and-tested solutions to world giants. Most importantly, pioneering such innovations – so long as it’s done with the right planning and strategy – could lead to reduced traffic and causalities, help create a better public transportation system, and completely change Malta’s landscape, making it safer, cleaner and more harmonious. “Being selected to come to Malta was an exceptional opportunity to visit a unique country… During my brief stay in Valletta, I met and discussed the future with some extraordinary people, and I hope to be able to return again soon to discuss these futuristic ambitions with the Maltese government! “In fact, a special thank you has to go to Massimo Sarti, the director of the Institute of Italian Culture, and Mario Sammartino, the Italian Ambassador in Malta, for their warm welcome to this most amazing country,” he concludes. For people like Michael, design isn’t just about visuals, but about experiences that can make our lives easier, more enjoyable, and which generate well-being in a stress-filled society. And whatever happens next in Malta, or elsewhere, that ethos is definitely worth following.




DOING IT UP: DO/DON’T

life. Apart from that, the pollution emitted from the production of uPVC is very low, which means the material safeguards the environment.

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MADE OF THE RIGHT MATERIAL

Safety and security

Incorporating multi-locking systems, these windows provide a high level of security for homes and businesses. Most uPVC windows lock at multiple points all around the sash and frame, which means that, unlike traditional wooden and cold aluminium windows and doors, they cannot be forced open by an intruder.

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Energy efficient

Unlike metals such as cold aluminium, uPVC is non-conductive, meaning its use in window frames does not transfer heat. This also means that the material contributes to a more consistent internal temperature for a building.

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Apart from immense durability, here’s a list of other benefits of uPVC windows and doors. UNPLASTICISED Polyvinyl Chloride, uPVC, is the material that is commonly used for doors, windows and even pipelines. What attracts customers to it is mostly its immense durability since it is built for heavy resistance, suitable for frequent usage and can provide the ultimate security for a property. But apart from its durability, uPVC also allows a property to look its best due to its high-quality finish, attractive design and impressive features. Before committing to any kind of material, it is ideal to know the advantages that it will offer you. Here are the various benefits of installing uPVC windows and doors:

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Weatherproof

Irrespective of the weather conditions, uPVC will not disappoint. Unlike other substances, such as wood, it is not easily affected by climatic changes.

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Limited maintenance

Since the material is so durable, once in place, uPVC windows and doors would need very little maintenance. In fact, uPVC window frames do not need painting or sealing and are easily cleaned with water and detergent, significantly reducing the maintenance required over their lifetime. The material does not rot, and it is also resistant to corrosion and salt erosion.

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The materials used are not prone to combustion. In fact, their profile compound possesses a fire-retardant rating according to DIN 4102, along with a Class 1 fire resistance as defined in BS 476.

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Cross-ventilation

These window systems allow the functionality of opening in two directions to enhance the ability of taking advantage of natural crossventilation.

Noise insulation

Double-glazed uPVC windows and doors can cut down noise by as much as 70 per cent. This means they are suitable for homeowners who live close to busy roads, or nightlife locations. The airtight seal between the windows and the frame will keep noise levels to a minimum.

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Fire safety

Environment friendly

uPVC is 100 per cent recyclable and can be recycled as often as 10 times. In fact, in Europe, uPVC windows and doors are recycled at the end of their

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Quality guarantee

These products, coupled with trained installers and a reliable service, mean an eight-year guarantee can be offered on all these uPVC products. Adore More has over 10 years of experience in the industry, providing a tailor-made approach for windows, doors, blinds and outdoor shading systems. It is now also supplying gates and railings in various sizes, colours and combinations, ideal for anyone who is looking for an additional feature to their home and/or providing security without compromising aesthetics. For more information, send an e-mail to sales@adoremore.eu; call on 2145 6570; or visit the showroom at Triq id-Difiza Civili, Mosta [next door to Lidl].

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TRENDS Outdoor entrance ARCHITECTURE: MJMDA [MATTHEW JAMES MERCIECA DESIGN ARCHITECTS] PHOTO: PETER M. MERCIECA

TOUCH WOOD!

By choosing natural, sustainable materials, a space is not only instantly updated, but also exudes a sense of warmth and distinctiveness, and above all, the environment is preserved. Emma Mercieca Cristiano, from Brands International Ltd, offers some ideas and inspiration on how these materials can be applied to outdoor areas to create a tranquil oasis.

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THE USE of timber to embellish private and public spaces is on the increase in Malta, especially when it comes to outdoor areas such as decking around pool areas, gardens, terraces, or even rooftops and small balconies. This is not surprising, given that we are seeing a number of upmarket urban developments across some parts of the island. By choosing natural, sustainable materials, a space is not only instantly updated, but it will exude a sense of warmth and distinctiveness, and above all, the environment would be preserved. There’s nothing quite as nice as sitting on a wooden deck first thing in the morning, or after a day’s work! Here are some ideas and inspiration on how sustainable, natural materials can be applied to outdoor areas:


Cladding in Garapa

Applications Pressure impregnated timber, such as pine, can be used for decking, wall cladding, custom seating areas, pergolas, cladding of Jacuzzis, or hot tubs, sheds, fences, or privacy screens, gates, or even to create small pathways in a garden. Many other exotic hardwood species such as Ipe, Teak, Garapa, Ash, Iroko and Angelim are also available and widely used these days. Materials Timbers are usually classified as either hardwoods or softwoods – relating to the type of tree they come from. Naturally, different timbers all have their unique features and what you use depends very much on the application required, the tonality and

Brise soleil in Garapa and Cumaru

WHILE THERE IS NO DENYING THAT REAL TIMBERS DO LOOK SUPERIOR IN TERMS OF AESTHETICS, ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY HAS MADE IT POSSIBLE TO HAVE SOME COMPOSITES IN BETTER FINISHES, TONES AND TEXTURES THAT ARE QUITE AESTHETICALLY PLEASING AND SOMEWHAT CLOSER TO REAL TIMBER texture you are looking for, the footfall/use that is expected out of the product, the budget available, and the maintenance you are willing to apply to your project. However, the key factor in choosing wood for outdoor applications is its durability. Some wood species have a natural ability to resist decaying factors completely; others have varying degrees of natural durability. Moreover, it is always good to ensure that the woods you are enquiring about come from an environmentally sustainable and reliable source. Apart from natural timbers, there has also been a rise in demand for

composite materials, mainly due to the significantly less maintenance required. WPC [wood polymer composite] products are made of highly dense recycled hardwoods and softwoods, together with polyethylene, which is an entirely degradable PVC substitute. Technologically advanced composites also have a protective shield around the inner core, providing extra protection against stains, aesthetic deterioration, fading, mould, decomposition, cracks and splits. While there is no denying that real timbers do look superior in terms of aesthetics, advanced technology has made it possible to have some

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TRENDS

Cladding in a residential villa

Shading structure in Iroko

ARCHITECTURE: MJMDA PHOTO: SEAN MALLIA

Cladding in Garapa

DÉCOR PANELS TURN WALL AND CEILING AREAS FROM ARCHITECTURAL NECESSITIES INTO HIGHLY EXPRESSIVE ELEMENTS OF YOUR FURNISHING STYLE composites in better finishes, tones and textures that are quite aesthetically pleasing and somewhat closer to real timber.

Cladding Cladding refers to realisations in timber or composite materials that are vertically set – building façade cladding, louvers, panelling and ventilated wood walls. Smaller cladding applications also make a

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huge impact to an outdoor area, such as cladding around a Jacuzzi, or hot tub, or even stair cladding. Décor panels are also available – these turn wall and ceiling areas from architectural necessities into highly expressive elements of your furnishing style. Apart from the environmental advantage of using timber cladding in our outdoor areas [timber is a renewable source and has a low carbon footprint when compared to other building materials], cladding is aesthetically pleasing to look at, but it

also enjoys outstanding thermal and sound insulation properties. It offers protection from the elements and can be treated with preservative elements and flame retardants. Cladding is also relatively easy to repair and is suitable for both new builds and renovation projects.

Decking It is undeniable that timber decking exudes an inherent warmth and beauty, and offers huge design flexibility for both residential and commercial setups. Decking is commonly used around pools, gardens and patios, but it can also be used on smaller terraces, or even in shower trays, or outdoor showers. There are really no limits to the



TRENDS Thermo treated cladding ARCHITECTURE AND PHOTO: MJMDA

INSTALLATION, MAINTENANCE AND AFTERCARE

Wooden seating and hot tub cladding ARCHITECTURE: [X,Y,Z] ARCHITECTURE & DESIGN PHOTO: ALAN CARVILLE

application of decking, and a coherent design can also include planters, seating, trellises, pergolas and sand boxes, all from the same material. Decking can seamlessly connect indoor and outdoor areas, increasing the feeling of space in both. Its properties also make decking a great flooring option for spas and vast outdoor commercial spaces.

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Decking comes in timber or composite materials, and is available in different plank formats of varying sizes and thicknesses, or deck tiles. While softwoods such as pine are widely used for decking, hardwoods such as Ipe are usually denser and, therefore, have stronger impact and abrasion resistance properties.

The installation method used should never be underestimated, as this highly affects the longevity and overall aesthetics of the cladding or decking project. Apart from discussing at length the pros and cons of the various materials, as well as the sourcing and certification of the product you are after, it is very important to understand the installation method that will be used. Well-designed and properly installed decking and cladding projects require an amount of annual maintenance to remain in good condition, but the degree of maintenance required varies, depending on factors such as product quality, location and whether they are made of treated timber, or composite materials. The latter require extremely minimal maintenance, except for occasional pressure washing. Real timbers require preservative treatments, and in some cases, a water-repellent coating is used to improve the appearance of the deck by nourishing the wood. Regular light maintenance goes a long way, and apart from being more economical, maintenance at intervals preserves the natural timber’s beauty and authenticity, ensuring a prolonged lifetime.

For more information or an in-depth consultation, visit the Brands International Ltd showroom in Triq tal-Balal, San Gwann. www.brands.com.mt




TIPS

GETTING THE LIGHT RIGHT Lighting up an outdoor space needs a lot of thought and has to be planned out well, while fixtures with the correct material should be chosen, says Petra Cutajar from Light Design Solutions. WHETHER the outside dining space is a roof terrace, balcony, or a small garden, it should be treated as another room. Not only can it provide an additional entertaining area, but it can also serve to extend the feeling of space in the interior by creating a view beyond. Outdoor lighting design, like any other well-organised project, needs proper planning for the greatest possible enjoyment and satisfaction. Only in this way can you avoid wasting effort and money. Start by making certain that you take advantage of the landscape possibilities you have in your home grounds. For maximum effectiveness, each light placed in the outdoor space must be planned for and installed to fulfil a particular function in the overall landscape lighting scheme. In general, your lights serve one of the following five purposes: • To light up attractive portions of the outdoor area and enjoy its beauty by night as well as by day. • To adequately illuminate recreational areas for real outdoor space living and entertaining after dark. • To light up entryways, walkways, driveways and service areas for your night-time safety and convenience

• To provide a movable source of overhead light for working around the home exterior. • To provide safety and security lighting for guests who visit, or to discourage potential intruders. The first step for planning your lighting for your outdoor area is to come up with a concept and decide what activities will take place in that particular area to determine what type of lighting effect to create together with the type of light fixture appropriate for the area. After the layout is concluded, the next step would be to choose the appropriate light fixtures for each area. There is a vast range of outdoor light fittings, such as wall mounted, suspensions, bollards, spike lights, floor lamps, recessed floor lights and ceiling lights. When choosing outdoor lighting systems, the impact of aggressive and corrosive agents on their whole life cycle must be considered. Some of the main materials used are aluminium, concrete and stainless steel, and there are different types of aluminium and stainless steel: Aluminium alloys come in different grades. The elements used in aluminium are usually copper, magnesium, manganese, silicone, tin and zinc. In environments like ours, where humidity

and sea salts are a big issue, the standard aluminium will only last a certain amount of time in Malta and will start to show signs of corrosion, with the end result being having to discard the whole fitting. If you would still like to invest in aluminium fixtures, the best is to find those that are copper-free because, once exposed to the atmosphere, copper starts to oxidise and corrosion sets in. Copper-free aluminium, which has a high resistance against corrosion, undergoes a stone-wash treatment prior to the painting process. There is also a three-step process, consisting of several treatments and coatings, to become resistant against UV rays, harsh weather conditions and oxidation. The most resistant material is steel, and marine grade AISI 316L stainless steel offers the best performance. It is resistant to corrosion thanks to the nickel and molybdenum contained within. AISI 316L contains molybdenum and low quantities of carbon, two components that increase the resistance of stainless steel against corrosion. The L stands for low carbon. On the market are steels with lower quantities of these components. For example, the 304 stainless steel, of common use in the production of lighting fixtures that does not contain molybdenum and has low quantities of nickel and chromium. It is less expensive, but also less resistant than the 316L stainless steel, and can eventually lead to corrosion in the long term. ALL ITEMS CAN BE FOUND AT THE LIGHT DESIGN SOLUTIONS SHOWROOM IN BIRKIRKARA

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PROJECT PEOPLE

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PHOTOS: MATTHEW MIRABELLI

Artist Nickie Sultana is keeping her work alive by transposing her art onto cushions. The journey has not only been fun, but also rewarding as these fabrics have extended the lives of her paintings into other spaces.

FROM CANVAS TO CUSHION LAST SUMMER, artist Nickie Sultana went to a client’s house and saw a painting of a gorgeous flower she had done years back. She realised she had never taken a photo of it… and from that moment, a seed was planted… “I came up with the idea of holding onto special pieces by reproducing them on cushions; in this way, reviving them,” she explains.

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PROJECT PEOPLE

Since then, Nickie has moved on to transposing onto fabric her colourful local scenes and seascapes, apart from her flowers – her art is constantly evolving, and the flowers have also blossomed into portraits in oil and pastel. These scenes look great on the terrace of a boutique hotel, or in a private residence, especially if they have the same view, as well as on the deck of a yacht. Now, Nickie also gets inspiration for her cushion covers from what the client wants. For example, she’s had requests for pieces for children’s rooms, depicting their favourite animal, or pattern. Although she even does a few paintings specifically for the fabrics, her art remains her priority. When she finishes a piece, if it also works on a cushion, then that’s great! “Whenever I paint something, I now also try to visualise it on a fabric. In fact, I have just finished a 100cmx120cm oil-on-canvas seascape and have reproduced the print on a cushion, which actually works beautifully,” Nickie points out.

WHENEVER I PAINT SOMETHING, I NOW ALSO TRY TO VISUALISE IT ON A FABRIC “I do not have any reservations about commercialising my art in this way. I see this as an extension to my portfolio. Keeping my work alive in this way has been not only fun, but also rewarding as these fabrics extend the lives of my paintings into other spaces.”

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The cushion is made from moisturewicking polyester that has a high-end linen feel to it, and Nickie is also very satisfied with the material and print quality, which is done overseas, while the cushion shapes are perfect for a decorative accent that highlight her designs. “The process itself was pretty straightforward: I first launched my designs on Instagram and Facebook [nickiesultanaartworks] just before Christmas 2018, which was a huge success, as they make great gifts.” And the rest is history. Nickie studied classical and contemporary art in Florence at the Lorenzo de’ Medici and Leonardo da Vinci art schools and often attends workshops in Italy when she gets the chance to escape. “Primarily,” she points out, “I am an artist.” And she is currently preparing for a solo exhibition planned for 2021, which she is dedicating most of her time to. “I do give art classes too, which gives me enormous satisfaction, especially when I see my students exhibiting and selling their work, and my teenagers, who we prepare for their Matsec examinations, passing with very good grades. “I also worked with actress Angelina Jolie and her children a few years ago. We spent four weeks painting together in her garden in Qrendi. That was a wonderful experience as not only did she

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THE VALUE IS IN THE PAINTING NOT THE CUSHION, HOWEVER, WE CAN’T DENY THE OVERALL PLEASANT TOUCH THAT A CUSHION ADDS TO ANYONE’S HOME become a friend, but my children were also present and befriended hers…” “When I see my paintings on a wall in someone’s home, I feel gratitude and pride. When I see my painting on a cushion in someone’s living room, I feel: ‘You should have got the painting too!” “Joking apart, the value is in the painting not the cushion, however, we can’t deny the overall pleasant touch that a cushion adds to anyone’s home.”

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GOING PLACES

COMBINING CUISINE AND CULTURE In the run-up to World Food Travel Day this month, PLACES: DESIGN & LIVING hops on an Offbeat Malta Food Trail and plays tourist for the day, savouring authentic local cuisine while seeing the capital city from a whole new perspective on this eatery-hopping experience. WITH ITS knowledge of the restaurant industry, together with the rise of experiential travel worldwide, the launching of Offbeat Malta Food Trails last year seemed like the obvious next step for The Definitive[ly] Good Guide Co. It has been publishing the The Definitive[ly] Good Guide to Restaurants for 20 years now, and since 2018, it has embarked on the organisation of these three-hour walking tours, with food tasting along the way, accompanied by a licenced guide for a touch of spice – and an abundance of knowledge in culinary history, traditions and taste. Apart from the pastizzi and the tea in a glass, every participant even gets a copy of the restaurant guide on the tour.

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Combining food with culture is a win-win blend; it allows visitors to gain deeper insight into the country, while sampling its authentic cuisine and appreciating the capital city’s architecture – both an art in their own right. The meeting point is St John’s Co-Cathedral and the rest of the morning flies by as you get to play tourist for a day, scoffing the irresistible ‘sins’ you would normally steer away from in the course of the trail with a sense of patriotism and long-lost pride. After the guide’s somewhat alternative overview of the presence of the Knights of the Order of St John in Malta – he boils down their architectural legacy to a mere “symbol of


vanity” – the appetite is whet for more mixing of palaces and other palatable stops. Variety is, indeed, the spice of life, and it makes sense that the first stop is at Tal-Ħwawar, The Spice Shop, at George Zammit No. 15 in St John Street, one of the few “real shops” of Valletta – a hole in the wall that we have probably walked by countless times without ever peering in, let alone learning about what a master of the trade owner Johann Zammit is. In the family since 1888 – and possibly the first health shop around – it is being kept alive generation after generation. The baton is now in Johann’s hands and he is keeping the spice trade going, while other aspects of our heritage are fast falling by the wayside. Johann mixes together a blend of spices that, when put in boiling water, citrus fruit and red wine, acts as a deodorising and cleansing agent, removing – and not just masking – musty smells. If you want the secret ingredients, pop round and he’ll wrap this concoction up in paper for you. By then, it is mid-morning and the time is ripe for a pastizz from Il-Ġifen along St Paul’s Street, and a te fit-tazza – of course, sweetened with condensed milk – from the days when a cup and saucer were a luxury. The pastizz, effectively a small pie, needs no introduction, but it is news that it seems to have originated in the Sahara Desert. Whatever the case, we’re happy to make this caloriepacked sin ours too and snack on it for breakfast, lunch, or tea. Palace façades, their balconies, and other details that have hitherto gone by unnoticed, including a sundial engraved in a wall further down the road, are pointed out and taken in on the way to Nenu The Artisan Baker in St Dominic Street, where an array of ftira pizzas and freshly baked Maltese bread is sampled and washed down with a Kinnie. Bread is the “centre of our universe” – and all the more when it is just out of the oven after a lengthy process, lots of resting, a good dose of mother dough and topped with a variety of ingredients, including kapunata. It’s filling… but it’s just the starter of a meal, the courses of which are served in various eateries around the city. The walk to King’s Own Band Club in Republic Street is welcome before sitting down to sample a typical Maltese platter and the traditional tender rabbit, with all the trimmings, in its restaurant. And what proper meal does not include a digestive to settle the stomach and help you feel not quite so full? So, the next stop is at the relatively new kid on the block, Chocolate District in Melita Street, which serves a shot of chocolate in a sherry glass, infused with locally made liqueurs. Choose from fennel to honey, carob, fig and prickly pear. But that’s not it in terms of bittersweet endings. The final step of the Offbeat Malta Food Trail is a scrumptious imqaret – a deep-fried, date-filled pastry – at the Panorama Restaurant, located in the timeless British Hotel along St Ursula Street, to top off the tour with the stunning views of Grand Harbour, which is as much a part of Valletta as everything else. At the end of the trail, the guide has managed to instil a touch of pride in local cuisine, which tends to suffer from an inferiority complex, considered a mishmash of the culinary influences Malta’s conquerors left behind, and consolidated by the influx of restaurants serving foreign and fancy cuisine instead of embracing our own. WWW.OFFBEATMALTAFOODTRAILS.COM

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CONSERVATION CORNER

MADE IN CHINA As a conservator of ceramics, glass, stone and metal, specialised in archaeological objects, it was not only a pleasant surprise for Connie Formosa from Recoop Ltd to come to the lab and find two actual terracotta antiquities waiting to be restored, but also a privilege to work on such beautiful artefacts.

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THESE CHINESE terracotta horse and ox figures were made as grave goods to be placed in tombs. From the Han Dynasty up until the Ming Dynasty, figures of horses were commonly found in burial chambers. It was believed they would become available for the service of the deceased in the afterlife. This Tang Dynasty horse, restored by Recoop Ltd, is covered in a white slip with cold-painted tack. The Tang Empire was an imperial dynasty of China spanning the 7th to 10th centuries from AD618-907. From the Han Dynasty to the Tang Dynasty, the horse was a symbol of political

power, military strength, mobility and multiculturalism, as well as a reflection of the wealth and rank of the deceased in whose tomb these miniature ceramic figures were placed. During the Tang Dynasty, the horse also played a major role in recreational activities such as polo and hunting. The position of a person in society was often reflected in how many horses he owned and was demonstrated in the colourful and detailed dressage of the dancing and prancing horses, displayed in court ceremonies. The figures are made of moulded earthenware. They were usually mass-produced with the use of moulds and varied in size from

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CONSERVATION CORNER

miniature to life-size as can be seen in those of the mausoleum in which the famous Terracotta Army of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China, was discovered in 1974. Where the colouring was cold-painted with coloured pigments over a white slip, it has often not survived, but in many cases, it was in sancai [three-colour] ceramic glaze, which has generally lasted well. The paint of the horse restored at the lab was, in this case, fairly well-preserved. But because it was a mass-produced object, the firing of the clay was done at a relatively low temperature, making the terracotta very fragile, resulting in the horse being broken in five pieces: the torso, the base and three legs. The damage occurred a while ago and had signs of previous repairs that had become undone again. Following documentation, the first job was to clean the figure from old adhesives and fillers so that the fractures could be properly reattached. Some repairs and fillings were hard to remove, and great care had to be taken not to damage the fragile terracotta. After all extra material was removed, the pieces were reassembled. Missing areas were filled in a way that would have a similar finish to the dry terracotta and slip surface, which has a matt appearance.

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The terracotta ox, on the other hand, is slightly older than the horse; it is from the Northern Qi Dynasty [AD550-577]. The Chinese state of the Northern Qi Dynasty was the strongest of the three main Chinese states. However, it was plagued by violence, incompetent emperors and corrupt officials. After a war in AD577, the army deteriorated, and this marked the end of the dynasty. Faced with the threat of the Göktürks from the north, from AD552 to 556 the Qi built up about 1,600 kilometres of wall from Shanxi to the sea at Shanhai Pass. Over the course of the year 555 alone, 1.8 million men were mobilised to build the Juyong Pass and extend its wall by 450 kilometres. The Great Wall of China, as we know it today, was rebuilt during the Ming Dynasty close to this wall.


THIS OX FIGURE IS COLD-PAINTED IN VARIOUS EARTH TONES AND HAS BEEN MADE TO A VERY HIGH STANDARD, BEAUTIFULLY MOULDED WITH ORNATE TACK AND EXPRESSIVE EYES AND FEATURES

From the Eastern Han Dynasty onwards, ox-drawn carts became the preferred mode of transport of the upper classes [probably due in part to the devastation of decades of war and the closure of the Silk Road leading to a shortage of horses], and this practice was to continue until the beginning of the Tang Dynasty. Terracotta ox carts, therefore, began to decorate the burials of the period. During the Northern Qi, the ox cart was the focus of aristocratic processions, and the most handsome depiction of oxen arguably comes from this era. Terracotta oxen, richly caparisoned with straps, painted and gilded, are a common part of the tomb set, along with the accompanying cart. By the early Tang, ox carts came to be used mainly by women, and they can be seen represented both by rare sancai, as well as white

slip-painted models. With the re-opening of the Silk Road and the developing passion for horses after the beginning of the dynasty, ox carts disappeared altogether. This ox ďŹ gure is cold-painted in various earth tones and has been made to a very high standard, beautifully moulded with ornate tack and expressive eyes and features. It does have a cart and people with it, but these did not come to the laboratory as they were not in need of restoration. Only the ox had little damage to the horns, with one detached from the base and the other broken in the middle, and there were signs of previous repairs. Once again, the old repairs had to be removed carefully as the terracotta was soft and brittle. After the cleaning, the horns were reattached and small losses ďŹ lled.

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SACRED SPACES

PHOTOS: ALAN CARVILLE

TOP OF THE WORD

These rooftop biblical gardens in Paceville provide multisensory metaphysical prayer spaces to welcome visitors to meditate and pray in their paradisiacal ambiance, says architect Richard England.

THE WORD consists of two split-level gardens on the rooftops of the WOW premises adjacent to the Augustinian Millennium Chapel in Paceville, specifically designed as “loci to pause, be silent and unspoken to, while measuring oneself against the immeasurable”. The project is the manifestation of horticulturalist Peter Calamatta’s dream of a biblical garden, housing

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THEY ARE DESIGNED SPECIFICALLY AS ENCLAVES OF SERENITY AND OASES OF CONTEMPLATION. IN THEIR QUIESCENCE AND QUIETUDE, ONE CAN ESCAPE FROM THE SURROUNDING CHAOTIC PACEVILLE NIGHTLIFE. ABOVE ALL, THEY MAY BE CONSIDERED AS SPIRIT-LADEN ANTIDOTES TO TODAY’S SECULAR MAMMON-FOCUSED WORLD plants mentioned in the Bible, which are indigenous to the Maltese Islands. The purpose is also to inspire visitors to get closer to nature as featured in the chapters of the Holy Book.

Accompanied by the enthusiasm and vision of Fr Hilary Tagliaferro, the process of the realisation of Calamatta’s dream into the reality of a magical horticultural arcadia was

in the hands of architect Richard England in collaboration with his colleague Duncan Polidano. “The process,” Prof. England says, “seemed to re-echo my earlier

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venture with Fr Hilary that saw the realisation of his reverie of the Oasis of Peace of the Millennium Chapel.” While the chapel focuses on the elevation of man’s spirit and soul, the biblical garden is conceived to be experienced not only visually, but also by the other human senses… It is designed as a choreographic stage set to enrich and entice visitors, physically, sensually and also spiritually. Gardens, after all, provide oxygen not only for the lungs, but more so for the soul. The two gardens named Hippo and Cassiciaco, where St Augustine meditated and was baptised, provide multisensory metaphysical prayer spaces to welcome visitors to meditate and pray in their paradisiacal ambiance. They are designed specifically as enclaves of serenity and oases of

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contemplation. In their quiescence and quietude, one can escape from the surrounding chaotic Paceville nightlife. Above all, they may be considered as spirit-laden antidotes to today’s secular Mammonfocused world. The perimeters of these spaces are lined with troughs for plants, shrubs and trees, and each species is backed by vertical metal panels on which is inscribed the plant’s botanical nomenclature and its biblical reference with the screened spaces in between evoking the seven colours of the rainbow. The gardens host 40 local plants and trees, including two central metal sculptures by sculptor Noel Attard: The Tree of Knowledge and The Tree of Life. They are lit for night-time viewing by Light Design Solutions Ltd and provide arenas to enrich the spirit and enhance the soul.

“THE BEST PLACE TO SEEK GOD IS IN A GARDEN” GEORGE BERNARD SHAW

“It has been a privilege to be involved in the making of this project, an enclave, forged and carved with dedication, commitment and love; an ambiance conceived to enrich the spirit and enhance the soul,” says Prof. England. Manifesting Calamatta’s visionary dream of a biblical garden has been an inspirational and fascinating journey, he continues, acknowledging the “untiring contribution” of the many other collaborators, without whose enthusiasm and toil the project could not have been brought to fruition.



WHAT. WHERE. WHEN. WHY.

MEET THE F.A.M. F.A.M fused a Fashion, Art & Music experience surrounded by Nadine Baldow’s dynamic sculptures in her show Pristine Paradise at the Valletta Contemporary Galleries in East Street, Valletta. The venue features both renowned international contemporary as well as established local artists. The first F.A.M. featured Sonoho Showroom, which, since its creation by Marina Botier in 2010, has grown in an impressive manner. Botier has always shown an interest in various fields, ranging from modern art to design and fashion. Jacob Lee, who is not just a fashion house, but also an expression of a lifestyle of individuality, was also present. His is a premium brand that prides itself on pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a trendsetter, taking influences from all things London.

Fly the Fly Vintage, a Swedish fashion team based in Malta that represents apparel from contemporary design to authentic handpicked vintage pieces, also showcased its SS19 collection Error at the event. Its own brand was launched last year, with designs characterised by bold cuts and a breath of Scandinavia. Julia Bka, a T-shirt brand by Estonian-born Julia Boikova, a London College of Fashion graduate, currently based in Malta, was also part of the F.A.M. Julia designs colourful bespoke textile prints that are then made into T-shirts and T-shirt dresses. An easy way to brighten up any outfit, these T-Shirts are a dream for colour and art lovers! The event was organised by Joanna Delia from People & Skin, who heads the Valletta Contemporary advisory team, Maria Moeller, founder

of Fly the Fly Vintage, and Lina Goldman-Judah representing Jacob Lee and Sonoho Showroom. Afterminimalism, the next event at the art gallery in Valletta, will showcase 11 artists, including for the first time in Malta, a work by Damien Hirst. Curated by Norbert Francis Attard and Francesca Mangion, it is on until May 17.

COME ALIVE! Architecture Alive presents award-winning historian, critic, writer, curator, painter and photographer William J. R. Curtis at the University of Malta on April 17 at 6pm, and the organisers, studjurban, will next be hosting Claudio Silvestrin. Curtis has taught the history of architecture, theories of design and architectural studios at many universities around the world, including Harvard and Cambridge. Silvestrin will be delivering his Architecture Alive talk at the Italian Cultural Institute at 6.30pm on May 18. Despite his distinguished position in the architectural world, Silvestrin prefers to keep a low profile and the same may be said about his projects, which, rather than indulging in the spectacular and hyper-ornate, are understated affairs, serene and meditative. In his own words: “Architecture of contemplation and for our inner self – it is most of all for our soul.” Architecture Alive is a stimulating project being undertaken by studjurban, with the support of the Planning Authority, PLACES: DESIGN & LIVING, Kamra tal-Periti and Marsovin, involving a series of design talks by world-renowned architects to be hosted every few months in Malta.

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