Spiegel Editorial Staff House in Hamburg by Verner Panton.
CONNECT is a series of chandeliers inspired by DIY and Bike punk culture combined with aesthetics rooted in the Victorian era created by LA based artist Carolina Fontoura Alzaga. Her handmade bespoke pieces evoke a strong industrial look and invite the viewer to examine them up-close in order to come to grips with their fine details and the technical precision needed to put them together. Carolina managed to master the challenges faced by resilient materials such as bicycle chains and cassettes and created a stunning collection which also addresses universal themes around sustainability and the environment. She admits to having a strong connection with urban bicycle culture and hopes to inspire audiences to question their ideas on what is beautiful and functional.
Above and below: Connect 14a Model.
Carolina: “The idea for ‘The CONNECT Series’ began from seeing pots and pans hung from a makeshift pot rack which had been created from a used bicycle rim during a time that I was completely immersed in DIY and bike punk culture. In turn, it inspired me to make a mobile made from a bike rim, bike tube and bike gears”.
Above and below: Connect 8 Model.
Carolina: “Visual art has the unique quality of being able to relay information on a level that language alone cannot access. There’s an immediacy to this sensorial reaction that is very special. What I find pleasing about these bicycle chandeliers, especially when seen in person, is that they command attention. They trick the eye – most people usually confuse them with regular chandeliers but have a moment of surprise once they get closer. Most of us go about the world accepting ideas as immutable fact when in reality, things are much more dynamic and malleable”.
Above: Connect 4a Model.
Carolina:”The most challenging aspect is making each chandelier an approximate perfection despite the imperfect nature of the material. I’ve had to surrender to the rhythm of creation and accept regressing in order to progress”.
“I didn’t start out being interested in lighting but now I absolutely love it! The CONNECT Series is bound to bikes as a material so as to maintain the integrity of the concept. It can’t have motorcycle parts or anything else because then it’s not TCS, it is something else”.
Carolina: ” I’m sure that in the future I will be making other sculptures with lights in them as well as other proper lighting fixtures”.
Above: Bentwood stools arrayed in front of the bar.
Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron recently finished work restoring a classic 1925 building in the heart of the city. Volkshaus Basel, a onetime concert hall now bar, brasserie, and concert space, with a hotel coming soon. The world-renowned architects went to great lengths to restore the former grandeur of the space, which had been aesthetically compromised during a 1970s renovation. The architect’s stripped the building back to its original frame (the ceilings had been lowered during the renovation), and restored the original height of the rooms while preserving as much of the original detailing as possible. Using a black and white palette, the decidedly modern decor successfully restores an air of Swiss Old World glamor.
Above: Thick hand blown LED pendants are a modern take on chandeliers.
Above: Metal-topped dining tables. The architects chose materials such as metal, leather, and wood, which will gain a weathered patina over time.
Above: A table setting with embossed leather cover.
Above: The design of the chairs are based on the original Volkshaus chair model.
Above: Wallpaper with seventeenth-century etchings are used in the antechambers of the restrooms and hark back to the early days of Basel, when this area was once a medieval manor.
Above: On the wall, a mural provides a guide to all the Volkshaus ventures.
Behind the façade of the art – deco – influenced exterior, lies a perfectly preserved and ultra – luxurious piece of Chanel history. The apartment, situated above the flagship boutique on Rue Cambon, remains exactly as Chanel left it. Today, just a restricted number of VIP with a badge are permitted into the building.
In contrast to Coco’s personal space, the staircase had a heavy art- deco influence. It is still covered with cream carpet, while the walls are lined with panels of mirrors. During the fashion shows, which took place downstairs, Gabrielle Chanel would sit on the staircase. Thanks to the mirrors she could see everything taking place, but no one could see her. She wanted to know the immediate reaction, if the journalists and clients were pleased with the collection.
She had this chandelier custom made. Can you see the iconic 5’s?
The clear table in the picture below was the first piece of merchandising furniture for Chanel. Coco asked the designer to do something very clean and very simple to have all the costume jewelry, make-up, skincare, and perfume merchandised. It was to enhance the beauty of the product. At the time, it was very clever as she was one of the first to do this.
“An Interior is the natural projection of the soul and Balzac was right to give as much importance to it, as to the way people dress…”, she once confided to biographer Paul Morland.
The entrance to Coco’s apartment where an original work-chair is still where she left it. Lower chairs were used for fittings as it was easier to sew and work with the fabric closer to the ground.
The octagonal shape of the mirror on the wall was the inspiration for the cap of CHANEL No.5. It is also the same shape of the iconic Place Vendome, which Coco could see out of her window of her residence at the Ritz Hotel.
The gold boxes on the coffee table were a gift from the Duke of Westminster.
A small herd of carved wood deer silently occupy the space...
The scale of the chandeliers, the coromandel screens, the mirrors: all reflected her intrepid personality. Coco had an eclectic mix of decor. French classic furniture, antiquities, Italian influences and Japanese deers. At the time, it was really exceptional to mix Orient and Occident- when East meets West.
Above and below: a Greek statue over the fireplace’s mantle.
The desk where Coco sketched her creations on paper.
All of Coco’s books have deep red tones. Just like the iconic lipstick and the inside lining of the bags she created.
Coco was very superstitious. Elements of this can be seen all over her apartment with sculptures of different animals and religious artifacts. She wanted to feel protected at all times. Chanel was a Leo and she incorporated its symbol, the Lion, into her personal space.
The pig keeper of silver and gems may have been found by Chanel at a flea market.
Chanel considered wheat to be her lucky charm…..here it glints in gold on the book bindings of the Old Testament.
This tiny birdcage was a present from a retiring employee and was the inspiration for the 1992 Coco perfume campaign, starring Vanessa Paradis, that was set in the Chanel apartment on Rue Cambon.
The ornate Chinese screens and wall panels feature coromandel birds and camelia flowers, which came to be a signature for the Chanel fashion house that continues to be used to this day. It symbolized purity and longevity in Asia and was very prevalent in her designs.
The Salon where Chanel entertained her guests including Elizabeth Taylor, Pablo Picasso, Igor Stravinsky and Salvador Dali. She is said to have hated doors and obscured them with Chinese screens.
Chanel herself designed this long, sensuous sofa in the salon at 31 Rue Cambon. It was important to her that it was comfortable, and she took the unusual decision to have it made in suede, rather than silk or velvet. It was very cutting edge. An entire wall of leather bound books. Beige, brown and fawn colors are accented with black and crystal.
The open mouth of a frog brings love, luck, money and health. If you look closely you can see a crystal placed in its mouth. Once, while Givenchy sat in the drawing room, a piece of crystal fell from the chandelier. He placed it in the mouth of the frog and it was never removed.
Coco was photographed many times in this iconic white chair.
A French trumeau over the fireplace, flanked on either side by Spanish vestry mirrors, crystal laden table lamps, and large rock crystal chandelier bejewel the main salon…
Mirrors were designed to be octagonal in shape. The top of the two tables below are black lacquer but were originally marble. Gabrielle Chanel wanted to take off the marble and have the black lacquer. It may remind you of CHANEL’s make-up-black lacquer with the logo on top.
This hand sculpture was made for Chanel by the Italian artist Alberto Giacometti.
Coco’s trademark black-and-white allover aesthetic.