Historic surroundings pair with contemporary cleansing rituals at Fuorisalone’s most atmospheric show. WGSN Lifestyle & Interiors Editor Sarah Housley reports
One of the highlights of Milan Design Week is seeing inside beautiful spaces that are usually closed off to the public. Usually, this means grand palazzi, dramatic courtyards and lush private gardens. This year, however, the hottest place to explore is a historic “day hotel” built in 1926 by Pietro Portaluppi. Conceived as a London-inspired space in which Milan’s public could cleanse and beautify their bodies, visiting for a shave, manicure or bath, the Albergo Diurno Venezia was inspired by the public baths of England.
Now, as part of Fuorisalone, it is re-open and playing host to Vestae, a capsule collection of wellness accessories created by new Italian brand Eligo in collaboration with students of the luxury design school Creative Academy – and the setting couldn’t be more atmospheric.
The space is divided into a central area surrounded by individual booths, which retain their original signs (manicure, barbieri, bagni) and features – disused sinks, swivelling barbers’ chairs – creating the eerie feeling that 1920s Milan has just left, and you are stepping directly into another time.
In this setting, the bathing and cleansing accessories of the Vestae collection take on a vintage feel, while tapping into the very current interest in wellness and purification. Glass vases are filled with natural cotton, billowing plumes of white soap, and tactile sponge. Burnished metal bowls house individual cleansing accessories, from beautiful renditions of roped soap to individual slices of soap and wooden canisters containing dusting powder. Mannequins model waffle towels and robes, offering one out to you as you enter the space.
Half historical, half contemporary, the exhibition reminds us that wellness is not only a modern concern, and that even the most timely of lifestyle trends can contain deep echoes of the past.
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