Inspired: The Palaces of Barnabò & Fortuny

We’re back from our whirlwind trip to Venice & Milan as part of Modenus’ BlogTour Milan. What a truly and utterly incredible journey! Without sounding cliché, there really are no words to begin to articulate what the last 10 days have meant to us… but over the next several weeks we’ll certainly attempt to by injecting the blog with heavy doses of the things we saw and experienced on our Italian adventure.

After arriving in Venice and taking our water taxi to the hotel, we had some time to settle in and explore on our own. Soon we’ll be sharing a BlogTour Milan Photo Album post that encompasses many of our random experiences, but in the meantime we want to tell you about one of our first full days in the city of love. Veronika and Florence of Modenus arranged for us to have a wonderfully personal guided walking tour with Cristina of SlowVenice. She specializes in offering multifaceted experiences of Venice at a slower pace, one that incorporates the history and stories, both past and present, of this culturally rich city. Let us just tell you, she had us all hanging on her every beautiful, Italian-accent-drenched word and oh, oh the places she took us! Aside from wandering through the narrow, cobblestone clad back streets and learning about the vibrant Venetian history and culture, we also had the distinct pleasure of having a private meeting with the Countess Anna Barnabò and seeing, first hand, her family’s stunning (and if we’ve ever said stunning before, we never truly meant it until now) Byzantine style palace, named Palazzo Malipiero.

Inspired: The Palaces of Barnabò & Fortuny | CLOTH & KIND

The palace is located right on the Grand Canal and was originally built in the 11th century, changed hands several times, and was ultimately restored to its splendor by the Barnabò family in 1951 who undertook a substantial restoration, returning the palace to a grand eighteenth-century style. To learn more about this history of this grand home, check this and this out.

We entered the palace from a rather nondescript door on a side street just off of the Grand Canal, but once we stepped into this cool, dark foyer we knew we were in for something very special. Immediately across from the entry door was this monogrammed archway out to the garden which we will show you more of in a bit. You can begin to feel the mood, right? Quiet, serene – almost like a moment frozen in time.

Inspired: The Palaces of Barnabò & Fortuny | CLOTH & KIND

Inspired: The Palaces of Barnabò & Fortuny | CLOTH & KIND

Every detail had us weak in the knees. Like the light fixture and that funky little hand painted bench seat back. Oh my god!

Inspired: The Palaces of Barnabò & Fortuny | CLOTH & KIND

After taking in the entryway, we climbed a set of stairs and stepped into the main hallway of the palace which quite literally took our breath away.

Inspired: The Palaces of Barnabò & Fortuny | CLOTH & KIND

The patina of the cracked plaster walls and that ornate molding painted in lovely pastels took us to a totally different time and place. Oh, yes – and Murano glass chandeliers adorned just about every space we entered in the palace.

Inspired: The Palaces of Barnabò & Fortuny | CLOTH & KIND

Inspired: The Palaces of Barnabò & Fortuny | CLOTH & KIND

Inspired: The Palaces of Barnabò & Fortuny | CLOTH & KIND

The grand living room with floor to ceiling windows that open directly onto the Grand Canal was like a moment frozen in beautiful time.

Inspired: The Palaces of Barnabò & Fortuny | CLOTH & KIND

Inspired: The Palaces of Barnabò & Fortuny | CLOTH & KIND

Inspired: The Palaces of Barnabò & Fortuny | CLOTH & KIND

The sitting room off of the main living room is home to a TV and newspapers, evidence that the Countess enjoys spending time in this space.

Inspired: The Palaces of Barnabò & Fortuny | CLOTH & KIND

Inspired: The Palaces of Barnabò & Fortuny | CLOTH & KIND

Inspired: The Palaces of Barnabò & Fortuny | CLOTH & KIND

Check out the Chinoiserie silk fabric that graces these chairs. To die for.

Inspired: The Palaces of Barnabò & Fortuny | CLOTH & KIND

The rugs throughout the space were beyond anything we’d seen before.

Inspired: The Palaces of Barnabò & Fortuny | CLOTH & KIND

Fabric drenched walls, with an ornate mirror.

Inspired: The Palaces of Barnabò & Fortuny | CLOTH & KIND

Inspired: The Palaces of Barnabò & Fortuny | CLOTH & KIND

The bright and cheerful dining room.

Inspired: The Palaces of Barnabò & Fortuny | CLOTH & KIND

Inspired: The Palaces of Barnabò & Fortuny | CLOTH & KIND

Inspired: The Palaces of Barnabò & Fortuny | CLOTH & KIND

We loved this little bobble head dude… oh, and how about the marbeling in the panels below? Too good.

Inspired: The Palaces of Barnabò & Fortuny | CLOTH & KIND

A view from the gardens, taken above in the dining room.

Inspired: The Palaces of Barnabò & Fortuny | CLOTH & KIND

Just as grand as the interior.

Inspired: The Palaces of Barnabò & Fortuny | CLOTH & KIND

Inspired: The Palaces of Barnabò & Fortuny | CLOTH & KIND

Inspired: The Palaces of Barnabò & Fortuny | CLOTH & KIND

OK, yes, we were being total tourists…. but can you blame a couple of design freaks like us?

Inspired: The Palaces of Barnabò & Fortuny | CLOTH & KIND

After bidding the Countess goodbye, Cristina took us next to the Palazzo Fortuny which is now a museum. For textile addicts like us who adore the sumptuous and always decadent Fortuny fabric line, we were acutely aware of just how fortunate we were that the museum happened to be open when we were there.

This large gothic style palace, the exterior of which you can see below, was transformed by Mariano Fortuny into his personal atelier of photography, stage-design, textile-design and painting. While its own collections are vast and plenty, it remains closed much of the time and only opens to highlight temporary exhibits from different artists. We caught the Spring at Palazzo Fortuny exhibit.

Inspired: The Palaces of Barnabò & Fortuny | CLOTH & KIND

One of the temporary exhibits was that of  Ritsue Mishima’s. The thousand-year-old tradition of making glass in Venice, seen through the lens of Mishima’s Japanese culture, results in works forming a highly contemporary alphabet. All lit up in the dark space, these pieces were a vision.

Inspired: The Palaces of Barnabò & Fortuny | CLOTH & KIND

We appreciated the wide-ranging breadth of art and styles represented throughout the space, many of which were hung on a backdrop of Fortuny fabrics.

Inspired: The Palaces of Barnabò & Fortuny | CLOTH & KIND

Inspired: The Palaces of Barnabò & Fortuny | CLOTH & KIND

Inspired: The Palaces of Barnabò & Fortuny | CLOTH & KIND

What a rare and precious opportunity it was to visit these two Venetian palaces. We count our lucky stars every day to be doing what we love on a daily basis, and it is opportunities like these – so graciously provided by Modenus and their forward-thinking sponsors BLANCO AmericaGessiClever Storage by KesseboehmerDekton by Cosentino, the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), that continue to teach and grow us as designers and bloggers.

Image Credits: All photos taken by Krista Nye Schwartz of CLOTH & KIND. Link With Love, please.

Home Sweet Home: Happy Halloween

Home Sweet Home: Happy Halloween | CLOTH & KIND
From our homes in Ann Arbor & Athens to yours… where ever you may be… wishing you a happy and spooky Halloween!

Press: House Beautiful, November 2013

Press: House Beautiful, November 2013 | CLOTH & KIND

Did you happen to catch Tami’s stunning floral arrangement in the new November issue of House Beautiful?

Here’s what she had to say about it…. “I was inspired by the warm golden hues of autumn here in the South. I used dried cardoon pods that I grew from seeds collected from Monticello, feather-light dried hydrangea, curly kiwi vine, cotton bolls plucked from a field in Georgia, and gourds cut from the vine – all nestled in a brass vessel.”

Press: House Beautiful, November 2013 | CLOTH & KIND

I’ve always known that it’s Tami’s gathered approach to both floral and interior design that make her work so storied. At CLOTH & KIND, our goal is always to mix old with new and to curate the most interesting mix of pieces to fill a space that will tell the story of its homeowners. What a wonderful example this floral arrangement is of that exact notion.

Home Sweet Home: The Last Days of Summer

This summer has flown by. How is it already August? Back to school is less than a month away and so I’m trying to savor every last minute of warmth in the air, sunshine on my face, playing outside with my kids and spending time with good friends. Like today, one of my best girls, Jen, and her adorable kids Hugh & Lucy came to visit. Alex & Tahlia collected bugs to examine under a magnifying glass with their friends, they ran through the sprinkler for what seemed like happy hours on end, played on the swing and made a secret fort in our bushes. What could be better?…

Home Sweet Home: The Last Days of Summer | CLOTH & KIND

Last weekend, we celebrated Alex’s 6th birthday with a pretty chill party at our house, complete with a face painter and games in the front yard…

Home Sweet Home: The Last Days of Summer | CLOTH & KIND

Home Sweet Home: The Last Days of Summer | CLOTH & KIND

And I’ve been savoring my alone time and long runs in the arboretum, which is blissfully close to my home here in Ann Arbor. It’s such a beautiful sanctuary. This summer, it’s become the place where I go to do all of my thinking, dreaming and planning. I can see everything so clearly when I’m there, running alone in the silence of nature…

Home Sweet Home: The Last Days of Summer | CLOTH & KIND

Home Sweet Home: The Last Days of Summer | CLOTH & KIND

Home Sweet Home: The Last Days of Summer | CLOTH & KIND

How are you spending the last sweet days of your summer?

IMAGE CREDITS | All photos taken by Krista Nye Schwartz, via Instagram.

Inspired: Hecho A Mano

ABOUT | Aside from being one of my best friends on this planet, Rasheena Taub is a woman who has a profound way with words and rich understanding of the human spirit. In her first guest post on CLOTH & KIND, she shares the story and images of her recent trip to Peru and the loving art of creating mantas textiles by hand, hecho a mano. This fall, Rasheena will launch Kickstand Collections, an online resource for parents seeking more personalized collections of children’s books and souvenirs.
KRISTA

Inspired: Hecho A Mano | CLOTH & KIND

I blame the elevation for my oversight in grabbing water bottles “con gas” at a small market on our way from the Cusco airport to the Sacred Valley. My nine year-old, who was newly exposed to Sprite, delighted in hydrating with a bit of bubbly. Our tour guide seemed less pleased. After twisting his bottle’s plastic cap off, he poured a healthy sip onto the ground. But then he chugged the rest. “Does it taste ok?” I questioned before committing to mine. “Si. That was for Pachamama.”

It turns out Spanish was not the native language of indigenous Peruvians – Quechua is. And in this ancestral language, Pachamama means “Mother World” or, as we know her, “Mother Earth.” Daily worship of their goddess of harvest and fertility includes this ritual of spilling a small amount of one’s drink onto the floor before drinking the rest — a personal gesture of gratitude directed at feeding and giving back to the land that takes care of us. I tried not to think about our water bottles piling up in some landfill.

Inspired: Hecho A Mano | CLOTH & KIND

In the small town of Chinchero where we stopped en route to the Sacred Valley, we learned just how Pachamama and the Peruvians take care of each other. Sundays usher in busloads of tourists to experience the market, but this weekday afternoon our van was the sole vehicle in sight. We felt transported into a centuries-old way of living. Free from tourists, the town itself resembled an unoccupied Epcot country with souvenirs lining storefronts on the cobblestone road. Our tour guide led us to the front door of a local family. When no one answered his repeated knocking, he turned around and tried the neighbor’s house. A wooden arrow overhead had the words “Ayni Ayllu” painted onto it. We lucked upon a cooperative of women who thread traditional culture into their goods and weave their way into the modern world of commerce.

Inspired: Hecho A Mano | CLOTH & KIND

A man, disrupted from siesta, descended from an upstairs room and greeted us. He then swiftly left us in the care of two women who welcomed us into their courtyard. In its center stood a working loom. As a writer, I am drawn to storytellers. These women understood their history and the importance of it, and they sought to preserve it by mentoring their children and educating tourists like us. They were also artisans, taking great pride in their handiwork and personal expressions of an ancient Andean art. A girl my seven year-old son’s age quietly fed guinea pigs while her mother set up a display of wicker bowls that held her show-and-tell. We were invited to learn how their most important textiles, mantas, are made. Symbolic and functional, mantas are the long weavings that women wear on their backs to carry babies and items such as food.  Distinctions in pattern and color identify the community in which it is created.

Inspired: Hecho A Mano | CLOTH & KIND

Did I mention yet that Chinchero perches at 9,000 feet? We sipped coca tea and staved off altitude sickness while the women washed dirty sheep’s and alpaca’s wool with soap made from the root of a local plant. This natural detergent is also used as shampoo for their long, braided hair. Lack of oxygen may have something to do with my imagining these women in a detergent commercial where their strands of glistening white wool triumph alongside the unnamed leading detergent and an article of clothing still visibly stained.

Inspired: Hecho A Mano | CLOTH & KIND

My children loved the next step, which involved spinning the wool into yarn on small toy-like drop-spindles. We’d see women around town that afternoon multi-task as women are prone to do: conversing, walking and spinning wool. In retrospect, I’m not sure how I thought color thread was created in this remote region. Again, they turn to the earth for resources. Hand-gathered natural ingredients such as leaves, corn, flowers, sticks and seeds produce different hues for the dyes. Salt and lemon alter the shades of colors drastically. Even cochineal, a small beetle that lives on the local pear cactus, is crushed to create a red dye. This same pigment adorns women’s lips and cheeks as make-up.

Inspired: Hecho A Mano | CLOTH & KIND

Inspired: Hecho A Mano | CLOTH & KIND

Inspired: Hecho A Mano | CLOTH & KIND

The women boiled water in large, Strega Nona-like vessels and then added the desired dyes. They dipped single-ply yarn into the pots for varying lengths of time. The longer the thread soaked in the dye, the more intense its color. My kids grew bored of the demonstration. My husband refocused them on the tables of mantas, sweaters, dolls and pouches for purchase.  He knows me well enough to know that I was staying put for as long as they’d have me.

Inspired: Hecho A Mano | CLOTH & KIND

The gorgeous yarns then had to be rinsed and hung to dry, all before being spun again to create thicker ply for weaving. Thankfully, balls of yarn crowded a woven basket near the working loom. We were good to go (not out the door, but toward the loom!). My son remarked that the simple loom, with its two upright poles and cross bar, resembled the top half of a field goal. He was right to be thinking of sports, since the two women tossed the yarn back and forth to thread the loom, creating a reversible textile.

Inspired: Hecho A Mano | CLOTH & KIND

A weaver’s story, though, is told in most detail on an individual loom. Designs depicting natural elements such as rivers or mountains, stripes of varying thickness and color, and even animal figures emerge from the weaver’s mind. During Incan times, textiles commemorated personal milestones and peaceful offerings while representing basic beliefs and values of their makers. Even now, hundreds of years later, you get the sense that whatever a woman is feeling – whether longing or love or loss, she is expressing this through her choice of color and is identifying with Pachamama’s serenity, strength and survival.

Inspired: Hecho A Mano | CLOTH & KIND

On the afternoon we spent in Chinchero, women gathered to weave in the town’s center and on a patch of grass beside the cobblestone road. Some removed their shoes, made out of recycled tires, and used their toes to hold the yarn. Others worked dutifully on backstrap looms designed for individual use. I envied these creative women for having their community within arm’s reach. Mine is dependent on email, phone calls and care packages. I missed my girlfriends, the ones who value the importance of making something with your hands, who turn hardship into something artful and beautiful, who own their power and use it for a greater good, who get that once you share your story, your few drops of water on the ground, you share yourself with the world, and in doing so, you are sustaining it.

Inspired: Hecho A Mano | CLOTH & KIND

IMAGE CREDITS | All photographs taken by Rasheena Taub.

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