Places – Design & Living (October 2018)

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PLACES ISSUE 23 OCTOBER 2018

PRESERVING THE PAST

TO PERCEIVE THE FUTURE

TRUE AND HONEST ARCHITECTURE Joining two old houses and keeping their identity intact

A celebration of legacy The inherited and the antique make the modern relevant

Design that communicates FROM THE PRACTICAL TO A PIECE OF JEWELLERY

Design & Living






PLACES

THE BLUEPRINT

PARALLEL EXISTENCES. THE NOTARIAL ARCHIVES: A PHOTOGRAPHER’S INSPIRATION PHOTO: ALEX ATTARD See story on page 64

Design & Living

ISSUE 23 OCTOBER 2018

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MY DESIGN

THE PROJECT 14 On Another Level Two properties become one ACCESSORIES 26 Borrowing Inherited Stories Celebrating legacy through treasures from private collections PROJECT PEOPLE 36 Brooching the Subject Handcrafted pieces tell a story on a grand scale WORKSPACE 42 A Cut Above The classical and contemporary rich marble touch LIVING DESIGN 45 Virtual Reality The fine line between the physical and the simulated HOME DÉCOR 46 TASTE Dining & Designing Guidelines for good quality and great value 51 DOING IT UP: DO/DON’T Living it Up Truly living the living room 53 TRENDS The Beauty of the Dark Playing with shadows 57 TIPS ABC on ACs Technological advances in leaps and bounds FORM & FUNCTIONALITY 60 Serving Multiple Functions Paving the way to product design SPEAKING VOLUMES 64 Rich Diversity New books on art, history, architecture and the environment 66 WHO. WHAT. WHEN. WHERE

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ON THE COVER PHOTO: SEAN MALLIA STYLING: LUKE AZZOPARDI, HANNAH CAMILLERI AND SEAN MALLIA, USING FURNITURE AND ACCESSORIES FROM CAMILLERIPARISMODE See story on page 14






PHOTO: Brian GrecH

MY DESIGN

ValleTTa is really happening… OK, that more cynical side of me still watches from the wings in trepidation, wondering when we will inevitably go overboard and witness it all come crashing down. it still harks back to the old charm of the dilapidated city that was deserted by 6pm. But no, this is a good thing! Valletta is, after all, the capital city and it should be a happening hive of activity; it should be home to people from all walks of life, bringing in and taking out a mix of inspiration; the beating [sub]cultural heart of a country; a centre for avant-garde, innovative ideas and creativity to take root; all amid the rehabilitation, renaissance, regeneration and protection of the beautiful old buildings; basically, a melting pot and hub of life in all shapes and forms. indeed, it is getting there… so much so that it’s on my list of destinations for a short city break. Yes, believe it or not, the ghost town i worked in most of my life has now grown from haunting to hip, embracing a new form of charm and openness that brings with it new adventures and experiences like most cities do. Maybe it’s because i don’t go there every day, but when i do, i stumble across something/someone more intriguing than the next. spending a night at the luxurious 66 st Paul’s boutique hotel recently

reaffirmed how ‘staycations’ – and particularly in the city – can be so much fun! it wasn’t the right time to grapple with suitcases, airports and other forms of transport; the state of mind was such that planning itineraries and negotiating new territory would have been a hassle. and even though the drive to the destination was familiar and short, checking in to the meticulously rehabilitated 17th-century property on st Paul’s street, complete with the warm welcome from attentive staff – a reflection of the hands-on owners’ own affability – set the scene for holiday vibe and the mind switched to tourist mode in an instant. it helps to be in an ambience where attention to detail is distracting; where the roof of the lobby is the blue sky high above; where your piano nobile duplex is fit for a king; and the view from its restored Maltese balcony is onto architecture you never bothered to notice. it helps that 66 has a unique rooftop pool deck, overlooking Grand Harbour, where the fortifications across and the cruise liners gliding by play out a magical movie. it helps that it prides itself on five-star service and is built on subtle touches that mean the lavish and the homely meld into one. The world slows down when simply taking in the panorama at dusk from 66, or being lulled by its mellow lighting within, while finding idle time to play board games in the lobby… Then outside, the tempo steps up a notch, with an increasing and eclectic choice of bars and restaurants and patrons spilling out of them into the vibrant streets. i’ve seen Valletta change and i’m loving it… Until i turn the corner

October 28, 2018 | issue 23 | 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]

onto republic street, and i notice that the memorial to the slain journalist has been cleared of candles, flowers, letters and photos once again. it’s boarded up under some false pretext and the implications cause anguish. in a split second, Valletta’s ‘evolution’ becomes superficial and fake; a dichotomous, depressing, uncivilised regression, rather, and a sign of the lack of freedom its citizens, wallowing in money and other material gains, actually suffer. Yes, it’s true, Valletta is so happening that visitors are choosing to spend their entire fiveday stay discovering the city and never even moving out to see the rest of Malta; some have even cancelled the rest of their trip on to europe to hang out a bit more. That is definitely one side of the story, and i can read it and even savour it. Then there are the likes of famous austrian architect Peter lorenz, who has another point of view. He has seen Valletta change too and loved it from when Freedom square was a filthy car park to when it became the canvas for renzo Piano’s extraordinary creation. The problem for lorenz, who recently addressed the first studjurban architecture alive series of talks, supported by Places: DesiGn & liVinG, is that Valletta, today, attracts investment and is being regenerated only because it is a landmark that brings tourists… “This means that only certain areas of a country are saved and gives the excuse to do nothing about the rest,” he explains. Time to retreat to the high-end haven of 66 st Paul’s, where the positive picture of Valletta shines through. Where it’s good, it’s good! and let’s keep it that way…

This publication is being distributed as part of © 2018. all rights reserved. reproduction in whole, or in part, without written permission of the publishers, is prohibited.

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THE PROJECT

On another level Two properties become one through sensitive interventions and legible additions in this Mellieha townhouse rehabilitation project by architect Antoine Zammit and his design team from studjurban, who sought to build on truth and honesty. PHOTOS: SEAN MALLIA STYLING: LUKE AZZOPARDI, HANNAH CAMILLERI AND SEAN MALLIA, USING FURNITURE AND ACCESSORIES FROM CAMILLERIPARISMODE

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OLD AND NEW are bridged in this pre-war Mellieha townhouse, which has been designed with the owner’s love for the building’s fabric and her desire to retain and restore the property, while rehabilitating and transforming it into a contemporary home, through sensitive and legible additions that maximise its potential. This project, which recently won a special commendation at the Malta Architect Awards, involved the contemporary rehabilitation of two existing residences on two streets that were restored and joined together as one property, while remaining faithful to the original built fabric. The properties’ levels were taken as a given starting point and the design worked around the physical constraints, rather than opting to work with an entirely new fabric. The result is a dynamic and exciting residence, with differently scaled spaces that are naturally lit and truthful to the property’s original fabric. The two properties may also be reinstated in the future with minimal intervention, making the project “robust and future-proof”. The project took three years to be completed, involving a painstaking restoration process that also required the dismantling and reinstatement of a number of dangerous, caved-in ceilings, and the reconstruction of others.

THE RESULT IS A DYNAMIC AND EXCITING RESIDENCE, WITH DIFFERENTLY SCALED SPACES THAT ARE NATURALLY LIT AND TRUTHFUL TO THE PROPERTY’S ORIGINAL FABRIC

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THE PROJECT

The house was originally two separate properties fronting two streets.

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The additional level is read clearly and unequivocally.

It also involved the restoration of external timber apertures on the two façades, the rehabilitation of the central courtyard, as well as of a series of underground caves that were used as wartime shelters. Originally forming two separate properties fronting two streets, the house was conjoined and designed by the studjurban team to create spaces that appeal both to the senses and the mind. The two properties are linked through the upper floors with the insertion of a bridge, while respecting the original levels within the houses on both streets. “As a result, it is an internal layout that speaks of the level changes that have been present in the original buildings and that has been adapted respectfully to follow these levels,” says Zammit. “While it would have been more convenient for the owner to impose new levels and work both sides of the property on single planes, this would have resulted in significant destruction of the existing properties and was, therefore, discarded as an option

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THE PROJECT

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The two properties are linked through the upper floors with the insertion of a bridge.

The old and new fabrics can be read from the courtyard looking upwards, recounting the history of the property as it has unfolded and as it has been redefined through contemporary interventions.

THIS SPACE IS BEAUTIFULLY LIT THROUGH THE INNER, CENTRAL COURTYARD, WHICH BECOMES THE NUCLEUS, ACTING AS THE MAIN LIGHT WELL OF THE WHOLE PROPERTY, WHILE REPLICATING THE TRADITIONAL CONFIGURATION OF MALTESE TOWNHOUSES early on in the design process,” he explains. “In this way, too, the two properties may again be split up in the future, if downsizing is required, resulting in an easy reversal of the built fabric accordingly with minimal intervention.” The front room on the upper street, originally a single-storey building, was transformed into a

double-height space with access to the bridge linking to the lower property and access to the newer upper living levels that were added on. This space is beautifully lit through the inner, central courtyard, which becomes the nucleus, acting as the main light well of the whole property, while replicating the traditional configuration of Maltese townhouses.

Plenty of other original features have been retained and reinterpreted throughout the house, including the tralatitious decorative Maltese tiles, wrought iron and natural stone. Additional space-

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THE PROJECT

View of the changes in level between the two properties.

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The loggia space before and after restoration and rehabilitation works.

saving concepts and storage units are also found within the property’s niches. The lower access leads through rehabilitated front rooms and stairs and upwards to a small kitchenette and breakfast area overlooking the courtyard and two bedrooms with replaced ceilings, restored walls and rehabilitated floor tiles. At the level of the lower street and through the courtyard is a space that has been transformed into a study, as well as the rehabilitated and revitalised cave-hewn war shelters, which provide additional living and entertainment space in a thermally

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THE PROJECT

The rehabilitated and revitalised cave-hewn war shelters and works on the ceiling replacement [below].

THEY RECOUNT THE HISTORY OF THE PROPERTY AS IT HAS UNFOLDED AND AS IT IS REDEFINED THROUGH CONTEMPORARY INTERVENTIONS comfortable environment thanks to the thermal mass provided by the rock. An additional storey was added to the property to create new living and roof spaces. Being partly new build, the relevance of stratigraphy is emphasised. White, clean and transparent, these new additions complement the existing fabric, while the use of natural wood and stone adds a hint of intimacy.

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The additional level is read clearly and unequivocally and remains respectful of the original stone fabric. In fact, the old and new fabrics can be read looking upwards from the courtyard. They recount the history of the property as it has unfolded and as it is redefined through contemporary interventions.





ACCESSORIES

A set of four Maltese late 19th-century 18-karat gold Gran Spinat waistcoat buttons, Malta, c. 1896; private collection | A gold-plated lady’s retractable lorgnette, France, c.1875; private collection | Pasotti shoehorn with gold lion; ₏180; camilleriparismode | A nine-karat gold mid-late 19th-century pince-nez, France, c.1870; private collection | Maltese handmade earrings in 18-karat gold with handcrafted cameo with Maltese cross and crown; price on request; Frank Zampa Jewellery | A nine-karat gold late 19th-century monocle, England, c1890; private collection. Photographed using an antique showcase that houses items from a private collection.

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PHOTOS: SEAN MALLIA STYLING: ANDREW BORG WIRTH DECORATIVE ITEMS, JEWELLERY AND FURNITURE: CAMILLERIPARISMODE, FRANK ZAMPA JEWELLERY AND SEVERAL OTHER PRIVATE COLLECTIONS

BORROWING INHERITED STORIES For Andrew Borg Wirth, the contemporary does not really feel adequate unless juxtaposed alongside the historical, the inherited and the antique. It is this very contrast he skilfully plays around with that makes the modern and the new relevant. In this visual essay, objects from two family businesses with a long legacy find their place in a Maltese home among treasures from a few private collections for a celebration of legacy.

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ACCESSORIES

THERE’S MUCH to be said on the beauty of handed-down objects. Beyond the value that they might or might not hold, they are a testament to the past, and hence, tell stories. Perhaps my fondness for this comes from the kind of houses I grew up in. There have been artefacts from each generation in my family’s history that have stood the test of time and have made their way into our present home and so, to me, the contemporary does not really feel adequate unless juxtaposed alongside the historical, the inherited and the antique. It is this very juxtaposition that makes the modern and the new relevant. A beautiful Maltese home displays the pride the owner has in its space and the legacies inherited from days past. By themselves, the clinical purchases of the 21st century tend to create spaces that are void of legacy and lacking character. Similarly, without elements of the contemporary, today’s houses would become mere museums of unused objects, with nothing worth saying. To beautify and decorate, to invest in ornament and to elaborate is a celebration of our sense of Maltese-ness. Sadly, there lies a great loss in the gypsum boards and shadow gaps that are competing with this.

A mid-19th-century Maltese 18-karat gold filigree brooch mounted with cannetile in the shape of a central lilly, mounted with paste diamonds with leaves on cannetile to either side and small daisies, leaves and buds to four sides of the central lilly, Malta; private collection | A pair of mid-19th-century Maltese 18-karat gold filigree earrings, mounted with cannetile in the shape of a central lilly, surrounded with leaves of cannetile, Malta; private collection | An antique mid-19th-century Maltese 18-karat gold filigree bracelet/bangle mounted with cannetile, Malta; private collection | A mid to late 19th-century limestone on silver brooch representing Hebe and Zeus, Italy; private collection | Pasquale Bruni ring in 18-karat rose gold with garnet and diamonds; price on request; Frank Zampa Jewellery | Pasquale Bruni ‘petite garden’ bangle in 18-karat rose gold with diamonds; price on request; Frank Zampa Jewellery | Pasquale Bruni ‘Giardini segreti’ ring in 18-karat rose gold; price on request; Frank Zampa Jewellery | Pasquale Bruni ‘Giardini Segreti’ earrings in 18-karat rose gold with brown and white diamonds; price on request; Frank Zampa Jewellery | Small jewellery box in blue and white; €77; camilleriparismode | Large jewellery box in blue and white; €240; camilleriparismode. Photographed using an antique mahogany dressing table and several items from private collections.

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To celebrate legacy is to hold in high regard the inheritance of a family and to carry it forward in the context one finds oneself in. To adapt and to make it contribute to an ongoing story means there is more worth inheriting in the future. Similarly, there’s a wealth in the golds and the stones that adorn the most beautiful Maltese jewellery pieces we so rarely see worn today. These are usually handed down from one generation to the next, until they make it to the hands of the one member who sees value only in the sale of the material rather than in the investment in the piece’s history. And with that, age-old techniques, craftsmanship and taste are lost for good. The way we adorn our own outfits and bodies is not that different from the ways we take to our homes. I am fascinated by the way jewels and metals were married in the past, through hand techniques that today would outdo the end products of the most advanced of industrial machinery. And I despair at the thought of how much of what we have inherited has not been given sufficient attention and, essentially, lost.

Cire Trudon glass cloche and base; €70; camilleriparismode | Cire Trudon Nazareth 270g candle; €75; camilleriparismode | Large jewellery box in mint; €244; camilleriparismode | Maltese handmade 18-karat gold filigree earrings with pearls; price on request; Frank Zampa Jewellery | Maltese antique handmade 18-karat gold earrings; price on request; Frank Zampa Jewellery | Maltese antique handmade gran spinat; price on request; Frank Zampa Jewellery | An early 19th-century 18-karat gold woven chain bracelet with cannetile clasp, Malta; private collection | Maltese antique natural handcrafted coral and handmade filigree brooch in 18-karat gold; price on request; Frank Zampa Jewellery | Maltese antique handcrafted cameo woman with flute on handmade 18-karat gold filigree earrings; price on request; Frank Zampa Jewellery. Photographed using an antique hall table in carved wood with green marble top and several items from private collections

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ACCESSORIES

There are, however, a few places on the island that seek to elevate and endow with new, current meaning that which has been inherited, and which, in a sense, embodies the Malta we knew and, more importantly, a Malta worth knowing. To create contrast and to ‘eclecticise’ our spaces and our fashion works towards creating

a ‘nowness’ worth inheriting. I cannot imagine a poverty worse than not having values to inherit, taste and style to admire, and pieces to look forward to incorporating into one’s own collection. It is, therefore, natural for this month’s visual essay that objects, coming from two family businesses with a long legacy,

find their place in a Maltese home among treasures from a few private collections. The beauty of the old stories of the Camilleris and the Zampas lies in the families’ ability to still adapt and provide beautiful things today. The objects borrowed from private collections further contribute to this narrative of inherited objects. And this is only

I CANNOT IMAGINE A POVERTY WORSE THAN NOT HAVING VALUES TO INHERIT, TASTE AND STYLE TO ADMIRE, AND PIECES TO LOOK FORWARD TO INCORPORATING INTO ONE’S OWN COLLECTION

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because each of the collaborators takes pride in the collections they have had the pleasure to curate over time. Nostalgia is a very disconcerting construct. Svetlana Boym describes it as the simultaneous condition of feeling homesick and sick of home. Nostalgia is about a longing for something that is distant, or for something that has never even existed in the first place. The respect and adaptation of

antiques exhibits itself in both extremes. Ornamentation is nostalgic both when it is invested in inherited goods and also when it exhibits newer items that are modelled on the old. Both tell a tale of longing, although skewed in intent and divergent in result. The aesthetics of attachment and belonging hold within them the pride of the past they have been inherited from. This continues to weave a narrative that persists, where generations

do not seek to overhaul the previous ones, but only to improve and to extend their significance. Importance is given not only to the present, but also to the past, and the forthcoming is anticipated with due respect. This idea of a platform that offers the possibility for the antique object to regain relevance is exciting. Who would ever have thought it could be found within the four walls of our very own homes and jewellery boxes?

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Brooching the subject

PROJECT PEOPLE

While brooches have consistently declined in popularity over the past 150 years, Iggy Fenech is still an avid collector and wearer of the jewellery. Here, he focuses on three pieces by Maltese craftspeople and jewellers that have captured his imagination… and can communicate. PHOTOS: MARK ZAMMIT CORDINA

THERE ARE various reasons why the brooch has fallen out of favour, among which are the fact that the style of clothing for women has changed, making the job of a brooch [to secure or fasten fabric] obsolete; and that a brooch has now become something old-fashioned. What hasn’t changed, however, is what a brooch can say about its wearer and the society she, but also he, forms a part of. In the time before photography, for example, brooches with locks of hair of dead loved ones were a common sight, revealing to us how, while death was more a part of everyday life in previous eras, people didn’t find it any easier to grieve, or let go. That is also why jet [a type of lignite that’s also considered a gemstone] was a popular material of the Victorian age – it was black and, therefore, perfect for mourning. Closer to our time, in the aftermath of World War II, many English women could be seen sporting

misshapen brooches made out of Lucite, a type of branded acrylic that replaced glass in World War II Spitfire fighter planes. Why? It was to be found for free among the debris of wreckages at a time when practically every material was rationed. My point here is that, like any other piece of jewellery – be it from the past or the present – a brooch has a story to tell through its subject matter, material, craftsmanship and, whenever known, creator. Yet a brooch can do it on a much grander scale than a wedding band or broken-heart pendant can, particularly at a time when so few people wear them. The following are three examples created by local jewellers and artists that I believe capture that spirit. Each brooch in this list was inspired by different sources, made from different materials, and crafted using very different techniques. Yet they all tell a story, and that’s what makes each of them an incredible piece to own and wear.

MY POINT HERE IS THAT, LIKE ANY OTHER PIECE OF JEWELLERY – BE IT FROM THE PAST OR THE PRESENT – A BROOCH HAS A STORY TO TELL THROUGH ITS SUBJECT MATTER, MATERIAL, CRAFTSMANSHIP AND, WHENEVER KNOWN, CREATOR. YET A BROOCH CAN DO IT ON A MUCH GRANDER SCALE

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WIDNET IL-BAHAR

Eric and Kevin Attard

Fashioned out of silver filigree by Kevin Attard of Handcrafted Filigree Malta to a design by Eric Attard, this brooch started its life as a pendant created specifically for an exhibition held at Palazzo de La Salle [the seat of the Malta Society of Arts], entitled Selfmade. One of seven pieces, the idea was to create work that blended the masculine [bold motifs that elude to baroque ecclesiastical features and Maltese elements] and the feminine [who is normally assumed to be the wearer of filigree jewellery]. “This brooch is a visual representation of Widnet il-Baħar [Malta’s national plant, whose name literally translates to ‘ear of the sea’],” Eric, who is a self-taught artist, explains. “The motif of the light of god dangling off the ear casually emanates a carefree attitude, and also harks to the fact that the body is a temple that one should decorate and show off.” Filigree, although not solely practised in Malta, is a long tradition that has been passed down the generations. Yet, today, Kevin is one of only a handful of people that own the skill. That is partly due to it falling out of fashion, and it’s something that Selfmade worked towards changing. “Filigree is made by melting silver and then pulling and twisting it into different gauge wires,” says Kevin, who has been practising the art his whole life. “From these we get the wires from which the skeleton of the design is built, but also the thinner, finer wires, known as rizzol, which are used to fill in the empty spaces and create the fine and intricate patterns. “The possibilities with this are endless, but more than the actual technique, a huge part of what makes filigree important is the design and creativity that it allows within the cultural identity of Malta.” Widnet il-Baħar, which was gifted to me, became a brooch upon my request, but its story remains intact. Facebook: Malta Handcrafted Filigree OCTOBER 2018 PLACES

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PROJECT PEOPLE

IGGY’S BROOCH[ES] The first piece of wearable sculpture by Francesca Balzan to reach the public domain, Iggy’s Brooch[es] is a two-part brooch made from polymer clay [a man-made material that is less pliable than natural clay]. This piece, rather obvious by its name, was created specifically for me after throwing many subtle [not really] hints at Francesca, who creates beautiful miniatures and caricatures using special metal tools, which she describes as “a bit like the ones dentists use to poke into your teeth”. The brooch is made up of two distinct-yet-related components that hark back to the French Royal House. The main part is the bust of Louis XIV, the Sun King of France [1643-1715], which was created based on the painting by Hyacinthe Rigaud done in 1701. The second part is taken from the 16th-century painting at the Louvre entitled Portrait of Gabrielle d’Estrées and one of her sisters. Gabrielle, who was King Henry IV of France’s [1572-1610] mistress, is depicted naked in the painting, with her sister pinching her nipple to symbolically announce her pregnancy. The two pieces of the brooch are bound together by various removable curb chains in different metal colours in a format that is vaguely reminiscent of 19th-century fob chains worn at the waistcoat by gentlemen. “My background is in art history, so appropriating images from the past comes easy to me,” explains Francesca, who is an art and jewellery historian, as well as the author of Jewellery in Malta: Treasures from the Island of the Knights. “But I never do a slavish copy of them. I prefer to let the original guide me while I pick on details I like and emphasise them.” It has to be said that the theme came about because of me being somewhat greedy: “One day, I asked [Iggy] to pick a piece to wear and, unfortunately, he picked an unwearable sculpture I had done of Louis XIV as a chess piece, which would have been too big. But it did set me thinking,” Francesca explains. Ultimately, what makes this piece of wearable sculpture special, as Francesca points out herself, is that “it can be worn in many different ways”, including as a necklace, or as separate brooches.

Instagram: @franbalzansculpture

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Francesca Balzan

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PROJECT PEOPLE

Martina Guillaumier

I wanted to hIghlIght the concept that ImperfectIon can be beautIful by creatIng contrasts between polIshed and raw

BLACK HOLE SUN part of a six-piece collection jeweller martina guillaumier created for the london Jewellery school exhibition for diploma students in september, this two-part brooch took 16 solid hours to create, using a variety of techniques, as well as materials, including sterling silver, brass, citrine and herkimer diamonds. “the smaller piece involved using a doming block to create a curved sterling silver sun, soldering it to a brass base, adding the brooch back elements and then oxidising the inside for a textured black hole effect,” says martina, who owns marpesia&co in san gwann, and who has a coveted spot at portobello road market in london. “the second, larger part consists of a brass semi-circle, which I riveted to a sterling silver drop using small pieces of brass tube. I then added the brooch back and created and soldered on three tube and three bezel settings for the citrines, painstakingly hand-drilling holes into sterling silver tubes for the tiny gemstones to sit in, and pushing metal over all of them to hold them firmly in place. they are then united by a sterling silver chain.” the collection this piece is a part of is made up of three figurative elements: the sun, black holes and raindrops. these were keywords martina highlighted from a line from soundgarden’s song Black Hole Sun by one of

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her favourite artists, chris cornell, which reads: ‘black hole sun won’t you come and wash away the rain.’ “after [the singer] passed away, I knew my first collection had to be called black hole sun and, just like he used to do with his vocals and lyrics, I wanted to highlight the concept that imperfection can be beautiful by creating contrasts between polished and raw,” she concludes. while this piece is not in my collection [just yet], marpesia&co’s first-ever brooch – made from two parts fashioned out of highly-polished brass is – and the black hole sun brooch is loosely based on it.

Instagram: @Marpesiaandco



WORKSPACE

PHOTO: ALEX ATTARD

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A cut above

This hair salon in a hotel works with rich marble, offering the sense of luxury and quality that both the service and the location it is housed in are renowned for. For Valentino Architects, whose project this is, the idea was to create an experience that communicates a classical and timeless feeling, using contemporary detailing.

You opted for the heavy use of marble, supplied and installed by Halmann Vella. What does this material give to a space as opposed to others? The choice of material was initially inspired by that found around the Phoenicia Hotel in Valletta. The same could be said about the general design of the salon, in particular the arched stations that mimic the hotel’s entrance portico – the general aim being to achieve a classical and timeless feeling, with contemporary detailing. The material also offers a feeling of luxury and quality, synonymous with the service Dean Gera Salons, as well as the Phoenicia, are renowned for.

Take an old marble butcher’s counter – years of use and wear and tear will cause it to stain and to change in colour, adding to its character and making it dynamic and more beautiful; just like a person’s physiognomical characteristics – they change constantly with time and experience and tell that person’s story. Similarly, old buildings develop a patina with time, which communicates their age and experience. Perceiving marble as a natural material – where each slab is guaranteed to be unique – which can develop and change with time is what needs to be understood and accepted when considering its use. Controlling

BIANCO CARRARA IS ALSO KNOWN FOR ITS TIMELESS ELEGANCE, USED THROUGHOUT THE AGES, FROM ANTIQUITY TO THE PRESENT DAY, WITHOUT EVER LOSING ITS RELEVANCE And why the choice of Bianco Carrara in particular, both in terms of aesthetics and practical characteristics? The choice of Bianco Carrara specifically was inspired by the same marble found around the rest of the hotel. We wanted to achieve a sense of continuity and a sense of place within the salon – i.e. Dean Gera at the Phoenicia. The marble was coupled with the use of dark colours, which are synonymous with the Dean Gera brand, while at the same time allowing us to achieve a dramatic contrast with the light marble. Bianco Carrara is also known for its timeless elegance, used throughout the ages, from antiquity to the present day, without ever losing its relevance. Marble being porous, would there be risks in using it in such an environment, or is that the beauty of it and, therefore, a risk worth taking? Marble is a natural material and, therefore, it behaves like a natural material. It changes with time, depending on the environment it is used in.

external factors that could make the material deteriorate, such as rising damp, helps to guarantee its longevity – in the same way that people would attempt to look after their health and safety. This idea of cladding the salon in marble seems to be quite an innovative concept. People generally get to go all the way in their bathrooms. Why do we hold back? Can this sort of design be tricky in terms of going over the top, and what are your tips to keep things tasteful and toned down? The idea of using marble not only for the floors of the salon but also for wall cladding in certain areas was born out of functional requirements – mainly to avoid scuff marks on walls at lower levels, and also to be able to wipe/clean the lower areas of the walls. Our studio’s approach to design attempts to combine a number of factors – from aesthetics to function and also human experience. Designing with justification and not based on whims allows us to attempt to achieve a balance.

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WORKSPACE

PHOTO: ALEX ATTARD

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LUXURY COULD BE ACHIEVED THROUGH THE INTELLIGENT USE OF SMALL SPACES, ACHIEVING PRIVACY, CREATING CONTRAST AND DESIGNING THE WAY WE MOVE THROUGH A SPACE IN THE SAME WAY A MUSICIAN WOULD COMPOSE A PIECE OF MUSIC In terms of the design of the marble features, what was the feel you wanted to achieve and how did you go about it? The experience we set out to create for both our client and their patrons was primarily one that communicates a sense of timelessness as opposed to ‘style’, using contemporary details. We also wanted the stylists to offer a personal and intimate experience to their clients within the arched stations – giving them their own dedicated space to work in, walled within a dark grey arch and surrounded by Bianco Carrara and brass details, while allowing patrons to ‘spy’ on their neighbours through the continuous mirrored wall that runs from station to station. We also wanted to attract particular attention to the reception counter – a block clad in a rich Yves Saint Laurent marble – where we attempted to achieve a dramatic contrast and tension with the surrounding classical Bianco Carrara. Lastly, we wanted to introduce an unexpected contrast in the bathroom, where classical marbles were replaced by reddish/brown, traditional, resin-based terrazzo tiles, with large, light-coloured aggregates – a material similar to that used extensively in the local scene in the 1980s and which is slowly regaining popularity. In a world where ostentation seems to be the order of the day and minimalism is moving out, how and where do you feel marble features fit in? I feel this has a lot to do with how people perceive luxury. Our approach is that luxury is not achieved through the heavy use of materials, which are perceived to be ‘luxurious’, such as marble. Luxury could be achieved through the intelligent use of small spaces, achieving privacy, creating contrast and

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designing the way we move through a space in the same way a musician would compose a piece of music – with highs and lows, achieving a climax at some point throughout the experience. In this case, perhaps, this happens when the end users sit within their private arched booth for a one-on-one with their selected stylist. Using this way of thinking, luxury could be achieved by the intelligent positioning of a block of marble within an austere concrete space, ensuring that the light hits it in the correct way, rather than cladding the entire area in the same marble. It was Leonardo da Vinci who said that ‘simplicity is the ultimate sophistication’ – a statement that is timeless in itself. How does designing a hairdressing salon differ from other interior decoration jobs? Would you say a project like this is more fun, or are the fundamentals the same? Each project presents its own set of challenges because each is unique, and the outcome is never the same. That being said, each project begins with a client’s detailed brief and requirements, which we must interpret and present back in the form of a design they can comprehend. The selected design solution may be inspired by many sources – from the client to the site, past experience and so on. There is no equation to achieving a successful project due to the amount of variables within each. However, we feel that keeping function, proportion, experience and aesthetics as the main constants that influence a project’s development and direction is critical for success. A project is fun for us when a client understands why they have engaged our studio specifically for their project, and how we could add value to a space, or to their operation, through design – a factor that I feel was instrumental in the success of this particular project.


LIVING DESIGN

Virtual reality PhOTOS: FRedRick MUScAT

Ania Steshko, an interior and graphic designer working with Aran Cucine, looks into how the design process should be organised to achieve success; what the most effective way to work in a team is; and that fine line between physical and virtual.

We live in times where borders sometimes become invisible. And this has led to changes in the paradigm on how we work, how we communicate and especially how we create. i have had a free spirit ever since i can remember. it was always my dream to do what i love most, with no limits and borders. And today, there are none. While at my computer, i can get inspired by a photo i receive from Switzerland and transform it into a design element as a colleague in Ukraine puts it into the visual context of a room and the client in Armenia gives instantaneous feedback. All of this happens in three hours! What used to be considered science fiction in the past is reality nowadays. Modern communication technologies keep breaking the barriers of time and space. One of the most vivid examples of how a creative environment and great teamwork, coupled with good management and coordination, can give the most rewarding outcome – the big smile on a designer’s face and the satisfaction of the client – is the new building of the Russian-Armenian University in Yerevan, which aimed to become a super-modern, practical and inspiring venue for thousands of students and employees. This was the task; and the challenge was that i was in Malta, my colleague was in Ukraine and our client is a four-

hour flight away from us. But gigabytes of exchanged information, folders and subfolders of images and videos, and thousands of voice messages made this project a reality. And surprisingly enough, i did not feel the need to be physically present on site because i could get live footage from a corner of the room or the hall i was interested it. Things turned into a ‘virtual reality game’ for me, where i could change things on the spot, get feedback from the client and move on. What was thought to be a long and tiring process, with unknown results, turned into the fastest and most effective way of developing the project. every designer has a corner where they are most creative. For me, it’s my home office, overlooking fields, with my favourite music in the background. And if i can virtually travel to Armenia in the blink of an eye to check the angle of the light falling from the window at that time of day, i can immediately unleash my creative beast and design a reading corner for the client that would later turn out to be his favourite feature in the office. This project made me rethink the whole concept of modern-day cooperation, teamwork and coordination, because what i would consider to be near to impossible in the past, turned out to be a great concept for me now. WWW.STeShkO.cOM

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Billund table and Florence chairs with veneered sculpted seat.

TASTE

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DINING & DESIGNING Emma Mercieca Cristiano from BoConcept Malta highlights some crucial points to consider when doing up a dining room in order to achieve optimal quality and great value for money in the long term.


Award-winning Ottawa table and chairs by Karim Rashid.

WITH SO many different trends and brand offerings, we are inundated with a myriad of options when it comes to furnishing and styling our spaces. Nowadays, people are more in tune with international trends and they want to experience more; they are curious about the world we live in, and they want to reflect this cosmopolitan mindset in their everyday private space they call home. The dining area, being the social hub of the house, is probably where homeowners seek to reflect this the most, and therefore there is more room for personalisation. Hence, it pays to spend time considering what you are buying carefully. Here are some tips:

NOWADAYS, PEOPLE ARE MORE IN TUNE WITH INTERNATIONAL TRENDS AND THEY WANT TO EXPERIENCE MORE; THEY ARE CURIOUS ABOUT THE WORLD WE LIVE IN, AND THEY WANT TO REFLECT THIS COSMOPOLITAN MINDSET IN THEIR EVERYDAY PRIVATE SPACE THEY CALL HOME

Style

Although BoConcept’s 2019 collection centres around two internationally-dominant styles – Metropolitan, inspired by industrial materials, city loft apartments and upscale hotel rooms; and Scandinavian, inspired by Nordic nature and design craftsmanship – both are timeless because of the collections’ focus on flawless and minimalist design, which could be coordinated to fit into many different décors. However, style is not enough. And a strong focus on functionality, customisation, quality, innovation, attention to detail and design are also essential.

Functionality Always think of what you need your dining table to do for you. For example, do you entertain regularly? Extendable or fixed dining tables come in various sizes and in round or rectangular shapes. Should you

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TASTE Milano table extension mechanism.

Adelaide chair with a stitched insert.

SHOULD YOU OPT FOR AN EXTENDABLE TABLE, IT PAYS TO HAVE A FLAWLESS DESIGN MECHANISM FOR A SMOOTH MOVEMENT, OTHERWISE IT CAN BE FRUSTRATING EVERY TIME YOU OPEN IT OUT

Quality and innovation

opt for an extendable table, it pays to have a flawless design mechanism for a smooth movement, otherwise it can be frustrating every time you open it out. If your room is on the smaller side, but you still need maximum dining space, consider clever, multifunctional tables that are designed specifically for smaller spaces and focus on adaptability. The Billund table’s sides flip down against a wall for an intimate meal for two or open up to seat four. The Rubi table unfolds from a coffee table to a fullsize dining table seating six people.

Materials Dining furniture comes in a vast choice of materials – glass, veneers, laminates and ceramics in various finishes, but it is wise to opt for the one that most resonates with your needs. Look for durable materials on the whole dining table from the extension mechanisms to the legs and the top. They make it look better, but also work better for its purpose, and it will last longer too.

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Quality items have a story to tell. Do not be afraid to ask the sales consultant about the origins and production methods of the items they are selling. The Florence chair, for example, is a product of design innovation, made from a sculpted veneer seat, which was thought impossible to achieve at design stage. When buying a design item, do not only look at the physical design; it also pays to look out for the more subtle details.

Attention to detail If you want your dining space to stand out, consider items with features that show a certain attention to detail. This not only proves the authenticity of the item, but also enhances its value. The best-selling Adelaide chair now also comes with a stitched insert in the fabric of your choice, or a quilted upholstered seat. The striking conical base of the new Madrid dining and coffee table is made by hand – it is first cast in concrete and, once cured, the inevitable cracks are repaired. It is then dried, sanded and painted – a process that takes a staggering six weeks. But when it arrives in your room, you know you have a unique, authentic, modern piece. FOR MORE HOME-STYLING TIPS, PRODUCT AND INDUSTRY NEWS, FOLLOW WWW.BRANDS.COM.MT/BLOG/




DO IT YOURSELF: DO/DON’T

LIVING IT UP

Fino interior designer Antonella Riotto points out the most common mistakes to avoid when doing up a living room and lists the top five tips to create the perfect setting. THE LIVING room is one of the most personal areas of the house. It’s where you express your personality, but at the same time, where you meet and welcome others, and it is this mixture of intents that creates the ‘magic’ of this room. A well-designed living room is, at first glance, engaging and impressive, but it’s also familiar and safe. Sometimes, despite all efforts, some living rooms appear unfinished and cold. What is wrong can be as simple as a painting hung too high, or lack of light. So, what are the most common mistakes we should avoid and the top five tips to create a perfect living room: 1 A great living room starts with a great sofa, which is the absolute leading actor of this space. It is important that the sofa has the right position and dimensions, according to the room and the rest of the furniture. A sofa that is too small, or one that is too big is a mistake. The shape is also important; if you don’t have enough space between the sofa and the TV unit, it is pointless contemplating a chaise longue, or a corner shape, but a good linear sofa is the solution.

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because if you sit too close, your eyes won’t be able to focus. Plus, you can sit further away from a big TV and still see all the details without straining your eyes. On the other hand, if you’re sitting too far from a smaller TV, you won’t be able to see every detail. But if you have a small space, you may want to get a small TV screen that will allow you to sit closer. Don’t make your living room too precious to live in. While the days of unused sitting rooms and plasticwrapped furniture are long gone, it’s important that your living room fits the requirements of everyday living. Select textiles and rugs that can take the wear and tear of everyday living. There are some great outdoor fabrics that we’re using indoors, which dogs and kids cannot destroy. It’s important to select rugs that will wear well, together with the right size, a good thickness and a good material. Beware of the seductive silk rug; wool is much better for a family. Make sure there’s adequate storage in the living room to contain all the

DON’T MAKE YOUR LIVING ROOM TOO PRECIOUS TO LIVE IN. WHILE THE DAYS OF UNUSED SITTING ROOMS AND PLASTIC-WRAPPED FURNITURE ARE LONG GONE, IT’S IMPORTANT THAT YOUR LIVING ROOM FITS THE REQUIREMENTS OF EVERYDAY LIVING 2

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Avoid a lack of equilibrium between voids and solids. A good flow that makes the space comfortable when walking through it and a good balance of decorations and furniture are essential for the perfect living room. The position and dimension of the TV also play a role. It is important to have good proportions when designing the TV unit and placing it in front of the sofa. The distance between the two items should be directly proportional to the size of the TV as well as its height. It’s pretty simple: if you have a bigger TV, your optimal viewing distance is going to be further away. This is

items you like to have around: toys [if you have children], books, remote controls and a junk drawer. 5 Look out for the right light. The amount of light in a living room is very important. Try to contemplate spotlights for a global illumination, floor lamps, some diffuse indirect lights that you can control according to the daylight and the kind of activity in your living room, whether it is chatting, watching TV, or reading a book. If you follow these five simple rules, then creating your living space should no longer be a headache but an exciting challenge, giving you the results you have dreamt of.

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The creation of luci d’oro develops from a reflection on the colour of light; the golden light of the sun and of fire; a warm light in which the concept of refraction starts to take shape.

TRENDS

THE BEAUTY OF THE DARK

When you think about lighting, you probably think about your lights and where to place them. But what about the shadows? Do not always look for the light in things, because beauty is found in the dark too, says Petra Cutajar from Light Design Solutions. The key to successful and creative lighting is understanding how to manipulate what is lit and what is left in shadow so that you can achieve the most dynamic effects. Shadows succeed in making patterns and adding a different dimension to the spaces around us. A shadow is an area of darkness created by any object that passes in front of a light source. The position of the object in relation

to the cast shadow, the type of lightings being blocked and the amount of other light in the area all affect the quality of the shadow. Any scene that is created by a combination of light and shadow is far more interesting than one that is lit uniformly. A perfect example is daylight; think of the dramatic shadow cast when the sun strikes a building compared to the same building seen under a cloudy sky.

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Lederam embodies the accuracy of the motion required to draw a line. The warm, softly coloured disks surround an LED module with an ultra-flat shape, which creates thin lamps and suspended forms with curved, sinuous lines.

A simple wall light made of fibreglass, which is versatile and strong, casts incredible shadows when it interacts with light.

TRENDS

Shadow is a piece of metal cloth suspended in space and illuminated by an LED. Darkness surrounds the shadow of the cloth creating sheer simplicity.

PLAYFUL DÉCOR DOESN’T NEED TO STOP AT BRIGHT ACCESSORIES, OR UNIQUE PIECES OF FURNITURE; IT CAN TRANSLATE INTO YOUR LIGHTING TOO

Playful décor doesn’t need to stop at bright accessories, or unique pieces of furniture; it can translate into your lighting too. Many of us are now embracing light play and use modern lamps that are not only functional, but also add a charming touch to the surrounding environment.

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This is why contemporary lighting fixtures that cast interesting shadows are one of the modern interior decorating trends today. You can highlight a unique wall art piece with the strongest light or use contrasts of light and shadow that a large chandelier, contemporary floor lamp, or wall scones create. Materials can be used in a unique and creative way to filter the light instead of simply diffusing it. Besides creating artful shadow arrangements, light play can give the illusion of movement. The shadow and movement that is created becomes the identity of the lamp, like an artist’s signature.




TIPS

ABC on ACs Place your air-conditioning system at the heart of your building‌ JUST LIKE most technologies these days, that powering air-conditioning equipment is advancing in leaps and bounds both in terms of functionality and performance. This is particularly so for VRF air-conditioning technology. These advances are improving the building environment, enabling higher energy efficiency, better air quality and lower noise levels, while also offering system users easier control and maintenance. Key factors in any VRF system to ensure that end users reap the maximum benefit from this technology are: Correct system design and equipment application Designing an efficient system and selecting the correct equipment is the key starting point. To achieve efficiency, the main part of the system to focus on is the inverterdriven compressor, with certain brands having particular benefits for reducing energy consumption when operating at partial load. In layman’s terms, this means that when the occupancy in the building is low, the compressor adjusts itself to meet that demand, resulting in lower energy consumption.

used following brazing and installation methods as per manufacturers recommendations. Routine system maintenance and prompt fault diagnosis Like any technology, diligent care of the system must be taken throughout its lifetime. This care begins with reliable routine maintenance from system start-up. For both residential and commercial applications, it is also recommended to enter into a preventative maintenance contract, which will identify the number of routine maintenance checks per annum required for that particular system. Without top-quality practices in maintenance, the facility manager may notice a reduction in system efficiency and there may also be the risk of shortening the expected lifespan. Identifying and addressing any fault immediately is also an important factor for system care and reduces possible downtime. Certain VRF brands offer centralised controllers, which give a snapshot of the system’s functionality, and can monitor up to 200 indoor units per controller. The facility manager may not be specialised in VRF systems, but will be alerted if any indoor unit experiences a fault, identifying crucial details on the type.

Quality installation practice System controls and prompt technician support Inserting top-quality design and equipment in your building, but cutting corners on installation practice could not only reduce the benefits of the system but also result in problems that may crop up at any point during its expected lifespan. Importance must also be given to the quality of installation material used, such as mounting brackets, electrical cables, copper pipework, grilles and insulation standards

When referring to the home, or a commercial living environment, a key aspect is the air that is breathed. Keeping these guidelines in mind when selecting any air-conditioning system and contractor will result in a happier, healthier and more comfortable environment at the heart of your building. FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT PANTA LESCO GROUP OCTOBER 2018 PLACES

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FORM & FUNCTIONALITY

IE

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Dendel


SERVING MULTIPLE FUNCTIONS DAAA Haus has ventured into product design, with its transformable wall decoration-cum-bookshelf, making it to this year’s Fuorisalone during Milan Design Week, and plans for a kitchen composed of recycled paper next on the drawing board. Design is “a very big word”, and from the outset, DAAA Haus always imagined it would be associated with product design. “it has always been a dream to venture into this, and after having focused on interiors and architecture, working closely with several artisans, it was about time we started experimenting with some product design,” says Keith Pillow, founder & creative director of DAAA Haus in Milan, Malta and Ragusa. it all began with Bespoke Cycles and a few furniture pieces, but with the opening of the Milan studio, the design, art and architecture associates have strengthened their relationships with some important brands, which means that whenever they create something, they have direct access to possible partners and manufacturers. The plan is to keep investing time and resources in this and “hopefully, very soon, we will start seeing our own products on the market”. DAAA recently launched a new hotel room concept for the well-established italian furniture firm, Presotto, but it is early days to describe its ‘trademark’ when it comes to product design.

“We are still developing this department, so this is not well established yet. However, from the collection of ideas and designs we are working on and DAAA brand values, i would say that our products would be innovative, clean and minimal, yet nostalgic for the past. “We look at furniture design in a romantic and nostalgic way, while the world is moving into another dimension; and this is a niche market we could tap into. “Living in an accelerated, socially and technologically advanced environment means products in general evolve fast into complex systems that merge both tangible and intangible aspects. Consequently, the boundaries of product design discipline expand to integrate different facets, such as the relationship between design and technology. We will also keep social and environmental issues in mind,” Keith says. As for the future – and as with everything else – “we have to first build up a good profile, so we can attract the big companies to our brand. This will create opportunities for us.” While it is important that the work is great, without the commercial strength of big companies, products will not be brought to life, he admits. “it would be a dream come true for everyone into design to see their own products in the living rooms of many people around the world.” Until then, the plan is to have a dedicated space/workshop for this arm in Malta, working on prototypes for the Milan office. A two-year plan is in fact in place to invest in the right tools and resources and in the

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FORM & FUNCTIONALITY

marketing of the concepts overseas with brand leaders in the respective fields. in terms of product design, daaa hopes to soon sign a royalty contract for its dendel and ie projects. The next step would be to focus on fine-tuning the design of med Kitch i.e. mediterranean Kitchen, “a modular eco sustainable design” that has been developed using a new material that is made out of fully recycled paper and that should be launched during the 2019 fuorisalone in milan.

The spaces we live in are being designed to be smaller, and this is due to various reasons, including smaller families and busier lifestyles. Globalisation also plays its part as people move to urban areas and cities become denser. The type of furniture we need to live in a comfortable space has to serve different functions and be also be flexible. Keith Pillow and Maria Bezzina “The whole process is fun and challenging, coming up with new maria bezzina is the an extremely creative and versatile ideas, experimenting and problem designer of dendel and ie. she designer. solving. but one of the biggest joined the daaa haus team in 2016 her brief on these products was challenges is explaining the design on her return to malta from london. functionality and user interactivity. in to manufacturers in order to having just completed her master’s fact, both designs can be adapted to produce a prototype,” maris says degree in furniture design at central the user’s need and also serve about what she enjoyed most in this saint martin’s college, she brought multiple functions. creative process and the biggest fresh ideas and enthusiasm to the saving space and flexibility are also obstacle in its design and studio. at the basis of these creations, which production. her love of furniture, passion for says a lot about the way we live both prototypes have been good design, combined with an avid today, and which, in turn, conditions received very well by the industry interest in sustainability, makes her our designs. and talks and negotiations are under way with two separate partners for both concepts. The Type of furniTure we need To live in a ie was also exhibited during this comforTable space has To serve differenT year fuorisalone in milan, with great funcTions and be also be flexible feedback from the public, maria says.

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SHELF LIFE Designed for and inspired by an overpopulated, consumerist society, Dendel is a modular shelving system, allowing the storage of ‘the small stuff’, yet including also the storage of household furniture. Within the increasingly small floor space of contemporary homes, having more area for daily activities is a huge gain. Dendel allows you to have enough furniture when you want to entertain guests, with its dynamic yet subtle design. Its structural format can be played around with. The ‘double’ shelf to hang the extra furniture in between also allows for the storage of things on top of it. The modular design means it fits into a variety of spaces and allows for the exploitation of unused areas around the house. The shelf hangs and locks with base uprights, which are fixed first to the wall during installation. These are made up of a block of birch plywood that is then cut with a CNC machine to get the groves for the sheaves to hang. The materials and joints allow maximum strength and rigidity for a long, durable ‘shelf life’.

THAT IS… The aim of the IE project was to create a household object from the scraps found in people’s workshops. The end result is a “transformable wall decoration”, which can also double as a bookshelf. The aim behind this product is for whoever buys it to have their own input in the design for a unique outcome every time it is bought. Having said that, a booklet is also provided for ideas on how to assemble it. Even though this is a wall-hanging design, it can be transformed into various shapes.

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Rich dıversity

SPEAKING VOLUMES

These five books weave through photography, art, history, the environment and beyond the realm of architecture… because ‘we can only know where we are if we know where we came from…’

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Evacuating the Street of the Immaculate Conception, Senglea, 1943.

The Official Colours of War

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The staircase in the offices of Farrugia Investment Ltd, St Barbara Bastion, Valletta.

Staircases of Malta

by Conrad Thake & Charles Paul Azzopardi This book is a celebration of the rich diversity of stairs and staircases in Malta. It spans the arc of time, from the megalithic temples of Ħagar Qim and Mnajdra to the scenographic and theatrical baroque staircases of the palaces of the Order of St John, staircases in British colonial-period buildings all the way to the contemporary modern. The volume explores the different typologies, forms and architectural styles of staircases within diverse settings – from humble vernacular buildings to domestic architecture, public buildings and urban spaces. It includes an extensive selection of over 185 inspirational black and white photographs of staircases in Malta.

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by Caroline Miggiani In Britain, government-sponsored schemes engaged artists on a contractual basis to document both World War I and II. Official war artists were mainly appointed for propaganda purposes, but the recording of the war in visual terms was also undertaken to preserve its memory. Leslie Cole was sent to Malta in April 1943 to document “the extraordinary dramatic and historic scenes” on the island as official correspondence had clarified that “photographs don’t really do it adequately”. With over 120 documents, drawings and paintings, this book examines Cole’s six-month sojourn on the island and explores the pictorial suggestions made to him by Governor Gort and his deputy, David Callender-Campbell. Cole recorded Malta’s civilian contribution to the war effort, but significantly refrained from painting scenes that displayed the full extent of architectural destruction on the island. The war artist’s private correspondence contextualises the challenging role of an official artist operating on the frontline to record unfolding history.


Parallel Existences. The Notarial Archives: A Photographer’s Inspiration

by Richard England A book about architect Richard England’s life, career experiences and his rich humanistic outlook, it is not an autobiography in the traditional sense of the word. Neither is it composed and presented as a chronological linear narrative of his life and experiences. Rather, it is disparate and fragmented in content and wide-ranging in scope, focusing on various themes, on his favourite buildings, architects, works of art, literary texts, poetry and musical compositions. It also includes various anecdotes about his interactions with former teachers and educators, prime ministers and politicians, popes and clergymen, fellow architects and students. Interspersed between the reams of text is a selection of his exquisitely executed freehand sketches. England is quintessentially a humanist, a modernday uomo universale in the Renaissance tradition, embracing a wide spectrum of interests and artistic pursuits. However, to him, these endeavours do not have rigid boundaries; they are intrinsically fluid and permeable, all enriching in their own way.

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by Alex Attard; editors, Joan Abela & Emanuel Buttigieg In this book, photography, art and history are interlaced to weave a new tapestry held together by a common thread: the ‘fragments’ found at the Notarial Archives in Valletta. At the heart of this volume is the artistic photography of Alex Attard, through whose lens, in particular, a series of contorted manuscripts, witnesses to the ravages of time, nature and human complacency, suddenly found purpose. These photos, together with the book, are an attempt to deal with the challenge presented by the Internet age, where the past is both more intimate and more remote, readily found and just as readily forgotten. An archive is much more than storage space. However, it is only when its pulse teems with researchers that this space may claim the title. Attard provides a new way of looking at archives and demonstrates that they are not just for researchers, but can also act as a place of inspiration for artists. It is hoped that this archives-inspired artistic venture will lead to many more and that the historical studies will entice other researchers to walk through the doors of the Notarial Archives.

Chambers of Memory, Roaming the Mansions of Mnemosyne

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No Man’s Land – People, Place & Pollution

by Marie Briguglio & Steve Bonello Three decades’ worth of environmental cartoons by Steve Bonello are seamlessly stitched together in a fresh commentary by Marie Briguglio, drawing upon research on Malta’s environmental pressures, status and responses. In one example after the other of the tragedy of the commons, the cartoons and narrative jointly reveal the compulsive construction, the love affair with cars, the suspicion of nature and the lacklustre law enforcement, in the context of a beautiful yet very densely populated little island. It’s an easy to read and well-researched tragi-comic exposition of people polluting public places. THESE NEW TITLES ARE PUBLISHED BY KITE GROUP. OCTOBER 2018 PLACES

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WHO. WHAT. WHEN. WHERE. WALK THE TALK Renowned Austrian architect Peter Lorenz was the first speaker to address the Architecture Alive series, organised by studjurban and supported by the Planning Authority and PLACES: DESIGN & LIVING, which was recently held at the Maritime Museum in Vittoriosa. A passionate ambassador for architects’ ethical responsibilities, the founder and CEO of Lorenzateliers spoke about Renaissance of Urbanity – the Responsibility of the Architects. His was the first of a series of regular design talks by world-famous architects. The next Architecture Alive talk is being delivered by Richard Murphy at the National Museum of Archaeology, Valletta, on November 24. www.architecture-alive.com/

Architect Peter Lorenz, founder and CEO of Lorenzateliers, and Dr Antoine Zammit from studjurban. PHOTOS: RAMON PORTELLI

PHOTO: SEAN MALLIA

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WATCH THIS SPACE

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The concept launch of Malta’s first contemporary art space, MICAS, was held recently in the run-up to the opening in 2021. The museum is being housed in the former Ospizio site and the adjacent Ritirata in Floriana, which are undergoing restoration. A host of international guests from the world of art and design were brought over for the launch to start putting the museum on the world map.

ARCHITECTURAL HERITAGE AWARDS The XIV Din l-Art Ħelwa Architectural Heritage Awards competition is open for entries. The initiative was set up by the organisation to encourage architectural excellence in a Maltese context, the rehabilitation and reuse of old buildings, and the recognition of the dedicated work of those active in the field of restoration. The programme is carried out with the support of the Kamra tal-Periti. Eligible projects include the restoration or conservation of buildings, the adaptation of buildings to new uses, building additions or alterations, or new building projects in conservation areas. The projects can relate either to a single building, a complex of buildings, or to a historic urban environment or townscape.

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PLACES OCTOBER 2018

1. Narmina Marandi and fashion designer Emilia Wickstead; 2. Malta’s Cultural Ambassador, designer Francis Sultana, with American artist and author Michele Oka Doner; 3. UK designers Frederikson Stallard; 4. Fashion designer Roland Mouret and James Webster; 5. London’s Serpentine Galleries CEO Yana Peel and Francis Sultana.

The project will be judged on the quality of the work executed, its historic, cultural, educational and social relevance, the preliminary research conducted and the aesthetic and visual merit. The project may be on a scale ranging from small to large and should display a standard of work that is outstanding in a Maltese context. Submissions for the XIV Din l-Art Ħelwa Architectural Heritage Awards competition should be for projects completed in the last year up to August 31, 2018. They must be received at Din l-Art Ħelwa, 133 Melita Street, Valletta by November 23, 2018. More information about the award application and registration forms is available from the Kamra tal-Periti, or from the Din l-Art Ħelwa office by calling 2122 0358/2122 5952; or by sending an e-mail to info@dinlarthelwa.org

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