Written by Sérgio Costa
The historical Costa Brava Clube, in Rio de Janeiro, designed in the 60’ s by renowned architect Ricardo Menescal, hosts Casa Italia, the CONI and Italian Institutional Headquarters during the Olympic Games of Rio 2016.
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For the first time, and as the name suggests, Casa Italia is the result of far reaching project that aims to highlight Italian excellence through and through- from the world of sports to that of design; a showcase of the craftsmanship that lies behind the label ‘Made in Italy’.
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Beatrice Bertini’s Concept Horizontal, is extended into an art, design and lighting project, with Bertini and Acciari responsible for developing the arts, Claudia Pignatale the interior design and Marco Frascarolo the lights. The fusion and synergy of these talents, transform Casa Italia into a lighthouse, a ship, an island, that fine line defined as the horizon – that separates earth from sky – and leaps into the unknown.
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The ambitious goal of Project Horizontal, is to promote Italy in all her authenticity to an international public,through the use of iconic images and objects that have turned Italy into an historical cultural reference point.
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In effect, Concept Horizontal exemplifies a style, a horizontal approach to considering and embracing all the activities that will take place in this location as forms of art, be they: objects, images, furnishings, hospitality or cuisine. Italy has laid her bets on making the Costa Brava Experience Unique, through the collaboration of prominent figures and labels from very different walks of life. Artists and partners fully represent the excellence of Italy and Brazil, a virtuous contamination between the two cultures which results into a contemporary, unique and welcoming setting.
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A location that persistently recalls the links between the two countries, starting from the long bridge that connects the mainland to the sea cliff on which Casa Italia is perched on, and upon which Vedovamazzei’s work of art stand out: “+39” tricolored neon’s, a physical representation of Italy’s international dialing code using the colors of the Italian National Flag, to the “Towards you” sign, by the duo Bianco-Valente that represents the drawing closer to Brazil. These masterpieces are connected through a long brightly lit line, specifically made for Casa Italia, by ILM-Lighting.
The experience continues, with Pietro Golia’s unique “Welcome” (sign), pointing the way to the main hallway that hosts works of art from Guendalina Salini’s “The end of geography” collection, further juxtaposed by the iconic “Bocca” sofa, a 1970’s design piece by Studio 65 for Gufram -in the shape of a mouth.
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Davide D’elia’s Installation ‘Antivegetativa’ leads to the restaurant: A spacious and panoramic area with floor to ceiling glass walls overlooking the ocean. Here, carefully arranged and alternating “Vidun” and “Quadrato” tables, both designed by Magistretti for De Padova, inspired by the structure of screws and in a minimalist and quasi Nordic looking style – exemplify Italian functionality and craftsmanship. The translucent, gold and topaz embroidered “Gina” chairs by Jacopo Foggini for Edra, glitter as the immense natural light beams into the venue and accentuates their beauty. The “Big Louie” 3D printed chandeliers, by David Nosanchuk for .exnovo, hung from the ceiling, reign and dominate the room.
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Specially designed ILM lighting, enhance works of art that adorn the walls, pieces from: Massimo Bartolini’s “Untitled”, Gianfranco Baruchello’s “Dove guardano le statue” Paola Pivi’s “La bellezza sta negliocchi di chi guarda” and “Atalanta e Ippomene” by the Brazilian artist Vik Muniz – an iconic piece both for its setting and the mythological reference: a race between Atalanta, the virgin huntress and her suitor Hippomenes who defeated her by cunning, not speed and thus succeeded to win her hand in marriage.
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The choice of venue for Casa Italia, a site integrated but perched on the top of a sea cliff, leads to a natural choice of furnishings for the lounge: Francesco Binfarè’s for Edra “On the rocks” sofa, that forms a relaxed and inviting archipelago and Emmanuel Babled’s “Etnastone” coffee tables, made from Sicilian volcanic stone, that lie dotted around the room. Throughout the lounge through to the bar area, Francesco Simeti’s ‘City of Gold’ wallpaper lines the walls, reconnecting and recalling the Brazilian Favelas and industrial suburbs.
Carefully chosen “La Lollo” suspended lamps by Slamp, carefully trace and illuminate the journey from the lounge to the bar.
Looking onto the lounge, lies a cigar bar with stone lined walls, furnished with Francesco’ s Binfarè’s for Edra “Sfatto” sofas and “Favelas” armchairs also designed for Edra by the Campana Brothers – notable Brazilian designers. The Bar counter, bar/coffee tables are designed and produced with Brazilian wood by Stefano Marolla, carpenter and cabinet maker.
The small, covered roof terrace is a peaceful corner in which one has the sensation of being immersed in the surrounding nature, further emphasized by the colors and style of: Edra’s shimmering blue “Standard” sofas, bright red tulip-line “Getsuen” chairs and the Campana Brothers “Brasilia” tables. The small, intimate Meeting room hosts the poetic artwork “Aurora” by Mario Airò, specifically commissioned for “Project Horizontal”. Giuseppe Gallo’s “Prismi” sculpture, towers over the roof garden which is carefully lit by Nobile lighting and finely furnished with “Summertime” benches by Valerio Berruti for Gufram‘.
The external lounge, facing the ocean and furnished with “Standard – Cloud” and the “Flap” sofas by Francesco Binfaré for Edra, is a tribute to the Italian Olympic Team mott “ready to fly”. Francesco Simeti’s distinct wallpaper, “Chantal” chandeliers by Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas for Slamp and “Bojour Milan” coffee table by Atelier Biagetti, completes and complements this area, that resembles a private and secluded area of the sky.
Light is the essential element to link landscape, architecture, art and design. The project, developed by the Fabertechnica team, lead by Marco Frascarolo with Stella Cardella, to make Casa Italia a contemporary space, very unique and welcoming is structured on different levels, related to the different possible points of view. Some more intense and defined signs of light, are used to give a whole view of Casa Italia from afar, while the interiors and some external spaces have a softer and more rarefied feeling, to create comfortable and cozy spaces. In those spaces, an excessive use of spectacular lighting was avoided on purpose: the light is used to add value to the works of art and design, key players of Casa Italia.

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