This should have been our first clue that we were in for the ride of our lives at the Gessi Concept Lab in the heart of the Brera fashion district in Milan, Italy. As we first entered the building, we snapped pics on these adorable little vintage Vespas (the kind that everyone is dashing through the crowded streets of Milan on!) in front of the Gessi step and repeat before descending the dramatic set of stairs into one of the most unforgettable experiences of the entire BlogTour Milan trip.
What exactly is the Gessi Concept Lab, you ask? It is a luxurious multilevel wellness play space comprised of waterfalls and pools, stone, wood and surprising underground vertical gardens, all set up to showcase Gessi's bath and kitchen products but it feels like anything BUT a showroom. We will do our best to share this magical place that brings the beauty and elegance of the Gessi brand to life through our images and words, but in reality the only way to truly experience it is to be there yourselves. If you ever find yourself in Milan, we highly encourage a stop into the Concept Lab, which is open to the public. You won't want to leave, trust us!
The space is set up almost like a museum exhibit, and is titled The Bathrooms of the World. It includes seven installations with inspiration from Morocco, Japan, Russia, New York, Scandinavia, the Mediterranean and Bali. Perhaps what we loved most about the entire thing was Gessi's ability to mix their often times sleek and modern products with rustic, natural or timeless pieces of furniture and accessories to create that storied and layered look that we always seek in our own designs. Proof, yet again, that the best interiors include a variety of finishes, styles and tones mixed together to create the most interesting of patinas. Allow us to share a few of our personal favorite spaces from within the exhibit. First, the dramatic entrance to the space...
The Moroccan project features the traditional Tadelakt technique, a nearly waterproof plaster used in the palaces, hammams and bathrooms of Morocco. Special Moroccan lime is applied to the walls, which are then finished with river rocks and treated with a soft black or olive oil soap for water resistance. The beauty lies in the glowing, soft undulating touch of the individual artisan.
In a new twist on Oya stone, the Gessi Design Studio mixed slats of wood and sandblasted travertine in a Japanese bath. Created naturally from lava and ash, and known for its warm texture, Oya stone was used by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1923 for the facing of the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. In this Gessi version of a Japanese bath, an original tansu-type piece with its signature hardware becomes a stunning vanity.
The epitome of cool, calm and collected, the Scandinavian-inspired bath blends limed pine, marble, stone and hemp, along with other materials. The mirror is framed with a special treatment of lime with a hemp-based coating.
In a fresh twist on time-honored Indonesian design, the Balinese bath features a rugged wood block wall and teak bench that contrast with slick stone walls, modern pedestal sinks and Italian faucets and showers.
As you can see from above, the use of the natural world throughout the space was incredible. A living wall, ferns draping over walls and mirrors, palm fronds abound. We loved it all!