Unlike every previous August in the 21st century so far, the usual mass exodus abroad isn’t happening this year for obvious C19 reasons and so the great summer escape has now become the great summer opportunity to spend some of those vacation funds on creating a year-round staycation paradise at home. With no passports, suncream or packing required, join me for a virtual trip around the world of the House of Artusa, taking-in three continents and acres of style.
We’re starting our journey in Italy not least of which is because the House of Artusa has strong links with the country. Famed for pasta, Marco Polo and the Pantheon, with breathtaking scenery and wondrous historic monuments, Italy is vibrant, intensely colourful, has an eclectic cultural life and is a superb place to visit any time of the year. Head straight for the Aman Venice (first image below) because if this hotel is good enough for the Clooneys then I’m sure you will love it too. The interiors are achingly sophisticated – grand heritage style meets modern luxury – with public spaces that are something to behold. And if the grandeur becomes a bit too intense, a few Bellini’s in the only hotel canal-side garden in Venice should calm things down. After all that serious Venetian sophistication, we’ll take a flight to fabulous Florence for a few days at the spectacular Hotel Antica Torre di Via Tornabuoni 1. A medieval tower from the 1200s transformed into an exclusive and luxurious historical mansion, the Hotel Antica Torre di Via Tornabuoni 1 has an incredible Rooftop Restaurant (second image below) providing a spectacular backdrop to al fresco dining as well as a vast library of Instagramable image opportunities (apparently its also a great place to get married so somewhere to bear in mind if 2021 nuptials are on the cards) : www.aman.com | www.tornabuoni1.com
Whichever area you visit, one thing Italy is full of is history with many inspiring and elegant designs from antiquity. We still admire the creative ideal of the classical age and copies of Ancient Roman statues can be seen everywhere. So if you are looking for a summer 2020 gift for your home, why not introduce some Italian heritage design verve with a spectacular pendant light based on the Apollo Belvedere statue; a conversation-starter combining contemporary function with the craftsmanship of a bygone age. The Apollo Belvedere was originally thought to have been created in Greece but historians eventually agreed that the statue was actually a Roman impression of the god (who has the same name in both cultures) and can be found today in the Cortile del Belvedere of the Pio-Clementine Museum in the Vatican Museum complex. Having your own personal Hero Statue Lamp depicting the god of music, dance, truth, prophecy and healing hanging around in the current climate might prove to be a seriously good investment!
It takes just over 14 hours to fly from Florence to Johannesburg in South Africa, our next port of call, and just a little while longer to reach our hotel destination adjacent to the Kruger National Park. However as we are travelling virtually, its just a couple of clicks of the keyboard away so pour yourself an Umqombothi, relax and read-on. South Africa is blessed with an incredible range of wildlife as well as several different ecosystems and a visit to this renowned safari destination with a stay at the Royal Malawane Hotel is an experience never to be forgotten. With stunning terraces (first image below) and superb attention to detail, an atmosphere of old-world elegance together with great service, to quote their website the hotel ‘exudes the romance and beauty of a bygone age’. It also provides a wildlife experience second to none including fascinating insights into the complex ecosystems of the South African bushveld. And as its been a long journey and you can never have too much of a good thing, the spectacular Maharani Suite is the perfect room to kick back in style (second image below): www.theroyalportfolio.com
Although you might not be able to go on a real safari for a little while yet, there’s no need to wait to introduce some of the unique character and excitement of the African plains to your own surroundings. The Zebra Mirage wallpaper (click here for website page) has a strikingly modern design that evokes the vitality of Africa – for something different, try hanging the wallpaper horizontally or use as decoupage and give a piece of furniture some animal magnetism. Complete the look with the incredible 85cm diameter King Louie Mirror (click here for website page) for a Hakuna matata design vibe and whether in Johannesburg or Jesmond, what safari lodge would be complete without a stylish sofa for the veranda? The Banana Leaf 2.5 Sofa not only looks great, it combines style and sustainability and makes a stunningly beautiful, hugely comfortable addition to the home inside or out (click here for website page).
Japan: its now time to head to Haneda airport in Tokyo (the closest of Tokyo’s two airports to the city centre) and visit this incredibly lively city that provides a never-ending feast for the senses. There are numerous tourist sites to visit within its 800 square miles providing all kinds of cultural experiences including the Shibuya crossing, often referred to as the busiest street in the world where 2,500 plus people can be seen crossing one of the intersections at its busy times. Apart from kimono’s, sushi and Pokemon, Japan is also famous for its Bonsai trees – the Tokugawa pine shown below has almost become Japanese royalty having been lovingly cared for by Japan’s emperors for over 500 years. It’s one of the oldest known Bonsai trees in the world and can still be admired today at Tokyo’s Imperial Palace.
And of course, there is shūji or shodo. To learn more about the art of Japanese calligraphy, visit the Taitō City Calligraphy Museum where their beautiful displays may inspire you to gift your home with an Ink Flow 2 Rug (image below) which cleverly emulates the visual dynamism of this intriguing style of decorative handwriting. Created by Mineheart in collaboration with British photo-artist Michael Banks, the Ink Flow 2 Rug combines the monochrome palette and flow of calligraphy with modern abstract impressionism so turns your floor space into an display art.
China: it would be a shame to leave the Far East without visiting China with its wealth of history, startling modern cities and unique landscape – from the Forbidden City to the Great Wall, its a country that will take your breath away. Amongst the pages of Chinese history one Dynasty stands out as creating porcelain items of great beauty. Although the Ming Faux Samblants Set may not be Chinese or originate from that particular Dynasty, there is definitely something magical about it. From one sleek receptacle, the set divides into a collection of bowls together with a pot with a lid and a serving plate. Each piece has a different, rather beautiful design printed inside the grey exterior. You might not have made it to the shores of China this year, but the Ming Faux Samblant is a wonderful accompaniment for exotic garden parties on British shores and will bring back happy memories of summer 2020 – the year home became the holiday location of choice.
Chris Billinghurst August 2020