Friday, July 13, 2018

BEAUTY: Interiors--Cracco

Earlier this year, multi-Michelin starred Italian chef and TV personality Carlo Cracco opened a new five-floor café, pasticceria, wine cellar, and gourmet restaurant in Milan’s famed Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, the iconic glass-domed 19th-century shopping arcade. Originally designed by Giuseppe Mengoni and inaugurated in 1877, the Galleria soon became the glamorous heart of the city’s luxury trades: the original Prada store, selling refined hand-crafted luggage, opened there in 1913, but like many things over time, it lost its luster and appeal and by the end of the 20th century, it was a bit neglected and forgotten. But Milan's mayor in recent years started a push to bring the Galleria back to its former glory as a true destination spot for both Milanese and tourists alike: an old McDonald's was pushed out for a new Prada men's store (welcome home Prada!). And now, Chef Cracco took two years to craft and build his eponymous restaurant.

Cracco was designed by architects Roberto Peregalli and Laura Sartori Rimini (working as Studio Peregalli), and Hamish Bowles, European editor-at-large for American Vogue reports: "'There were no historical traces,' recalls Laura Rimini, 'through the years everything had been destroyed.' Studio Peregalli therefore needed to reinvent the Galleria’s storied past from its imposing late nineteenth splendor through the glamour of the 1930s, so that the interiors reflected the views. The building’s ground floor had been a Mercedes car showroom: now it is a convincingly Belle Epoque café and patisserie with 1920s counters found in Paris and a mosaic floor that echoes Mengoni’s original detailing."

A tour of Cracco is continued by travel journalist Valerie Waterhouse for Departures magazine: "But clients at Cracco get far more than just great cake and coffee. Interiors combine original features with space-specific elements that evoke rather than recreate the Golden Age of Coffee Shops. The globe wall-lamps on curved brass stems and intricate marble floor echo those of the Galleria, designed by nineteenth-century architect Giuseppe Mengoni, who fell fatally from the scaffolding just before the arcade’s opening. Walls, meanwhile, are hand-painted with artfully faded damask motifs that recall a Fortuny fabric whose patina has only improved with age. 'All the walls are hand-painted by our craftsmen under our supervision,' the architects say. 'It’s haute couture for interiors.'

An iron elevator, encased in glass-and-bronze, transports guests to the 50-seat haute cuisine restaurant on the first floor, where they enter an anteroom whose ceiling features original floral frescoes in vintage pink and powder blue. The colors reappear in a hand-painted wallpaper, spread with outsized blossoms resembling a field of multi-colored daisies, or open parasols, inspired by a 1920’s photo.

Arched vintage mirrors, strikingly hung with round ceramic artworks by twentieth-century artist Lucio Fontana (famous for his slashed canvases), dominate the two dining rooms. Specially-designed plates, by Richard Ginori, feature crisscross patterns by Gio Ponti that mimic the iron structure of the Galleria’s glass dome. There are also a couple of private spaces, overlooking the Galleria, and a fumoir, serving oysters, caviar, cigars, and spirits, with wall fabric in a mossy green metallic thread. Diners from all sections of the restaurant can select their own wine from the pine shelves in the red-lacquered basement cellars, stocking 2,000 French, Italian and Californian labels. The space is completed by a mirrored, frescoed hall, which can be hired for special events on the second floor."

And here is the maestro himself, the extremely easy-on-the-eyes (*sigh*) chef Carlo Cracco.

Starting in April of this year, 2018, Chef Cracco began a program of commissioning sit specific artworks for the lunette windows of the restaurant that look out onto the Galleria. The first piece is described on the Cracco wesbite: "Heterochromic by Patrick Tuttofuoco has inaugurated the project by combining art and cuisine, with a deep reflection and intimately linked to the concept of identity. Using neon, the artist has transformed the two lunettes into eyes, those of Carlo Cracco and [Chef Cracco's wife] Rosa Fanti, giving life to a unique entity that unites different irises.

The choice to represent the view derives from the sharing between Tuttofuoco and Cracco in their respective research: both, even if with different tools, are linked by a common research in aesthetic terms and by the consequent need to communicate and share it."

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