Fabio Novembre's Hotel in Florence | icon 009 | January 2004

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photo: Alberto Ferrero photo: Alberto Ferrero photo: Alberto Ferrero

words Kieran Long

Fabio Novembre has completed a hotel in Florence, in the historic district of San Frediano.

A conversion of an existing industrial building into a luxury hotel for the Italian hotel group Una, the Hotel Vittoria incorporates Novembre's eccentric view of the world to become what he describes as "more than a hotel - a spatial narrative touching on themes like the mobility of the planet, presence within absence and intellectual nomadism, poised briefly on a tree branch before taking flight again".

The hotel is a typically eclectic work from the Italian architect and designer. Materials are diverse and eccentric, including mosaics, leather and printed lamé. The tone is set by the entrance and reception area, through which snakes a long, mosaic-tiled surface intended to envelop the traveller and lead him or her to the reception desk. The surface is formally reminiscent of Novembre's famous spiral sofa for Cappellini, two of which also sit in the space.

Novembre's approach can broadly be characterised as a narcissistic neo-baroque, concentrating solely on the sensuous and personal. He says: "What counts is nothing but living, that's everything reduced to the essential, to live; vivere with a big V." This hotel, with its pimp-chic bedrooms and sensuous overlapping surfaces in the public areas, is one of the most comprehensive expressions of his philosophy yet, after his showrooms for mosaic tile company Bisazza in Milan and New York, and the pornographic murals of his Origine du Monde nightclub in Milan.

The restaurant is conceived as a refectory, with a single long and winding table, designed by cult Dutch artist and architect Joep van Lieshout to encourage interaction between guests. This is accompanied by Atelier van Lieshout's Shaker chairs and stools. The moulded ceiling of the restaurant follows the perimeter of the table, illuminated through a filter of cathedral-glass with fractal patterns. The corridors of the hotel are hung with art, and every bedroom door, rather than having a number, is a life-size portrait of a historical figure.

Novembre has also called this a "technological inn", providing broadband internet connections and 42in plasma screens in every room, as well as wi-fi access in all public areas.


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