Technician restores a antique furniture to give life to the art project. - Gitaly contract



by Samuele Tordini - Technical and Manager Director

«As easy as drinking a glass of water... or almost.»

How to break the ice?

I’ll start by telling you right away – so there are no secrets between us – that I am the technician in question (to be blended), while the other key ingredient in our recipe, the art project, concerns the Mas De Pierre Relais Hotel Châteaux , which I was in charge of.

When the client commissioned us with the project for the total renovation of the public areas, l imagined that l would have to ‘do my own thing’ as in any project. It is not that my work is not complicated, quite the contrary. Every day there is always something new, a problem to solve, a challenge to overcome, and I am used to it.

In this case, however, I had to try something different… Let’s go step by step.

First of all, l’ll answer the question, for those who don’t know (for others it will be a brief review) what a technician like me is called upon to do in any project that clients and architects like you commission from us.

It is not easy to explain. In brief, together with my colleagues, l deal with the purely technical part, more specifically, I check the feasibility and budget of each imagined element, l develop the detail drawings for the production of each component either for the supplier or directly for the machine, and l monitor each step of production, checking its quality.

Oh, and of course I also supervise the construction phase.

I thought I had to do this in this case too (easy enough) but as l said, it wasn’t quite like that. Perhaps l should have already guessed from the name given to this place, namely “bastide”, or from the architects who have worked on this project over the years, or simply from the style of the structure, l don’t know.

«...Comparing apples to oranges»

Comparing apples with oranges, l think you’ll agree with me, it doesn’t make much sense.

They have almost nothing in common except the rounded shape.

For those of us who speak French, the most pertinent idiomatic expression is “Il n’a rien à faire avec la choucroute”.

Well, let’s just say it was a bit like that, between me and this project.

I will now describe what l have been called upon to do in this case, offer my point of view, show the project through my blue eyes and you will understand why l have chosen the title above.

Before starting, l will give you an overview of what Mas De Pierre Relais Hotel Châteaux is.

How to define it? An enchanting country house, a chateau, a picturesque luxury retreat, a wonderful Hotel nestled in the Provencal countryside.

There is not a single effective description. The property is a combination of these things, a well-designed five-star historic place with Provencal charm and appeal.

Over the years, the spaces and rooms have been renovated and redesigned to make this place even more enchanting. Familiar names such as architect Philippe Caron, interior designer Patrick Ribes and landscape architect Bruno Ricci have taken care of it.

We were commissioned to refurbish the public areas, or rather the furniture in these spaces, including carpentry work.

You already have a first idea of the differences from my usual work.

Let us continue. This was not just a simple renovation, but a real restoration in style, what those of us who speak French call “à l’identique”. Everything had to be studied in detail and reflect the initial project. To complicate matters, no two pieces of furniture, restored or new, are the same. So, a variety of supplies and materials such as solid wood (walnut, oak, etc.), treated with natural techniques.

Not only did this take longer to design and manufacture, but it made mass production and the use of machines impossible. Yes, my beloved machines had to be abandoned.

A further requirement was to be in harmony with the surrounding Provencal landscape, while maintaining the 1950s style.

When faced with such an artistic project in historical terms and with a very precise style, without being able to use machines for production, having to deal with details, finishes, particular furnishings, it was like comparing apples with oranges.

Did l succeed? Read on to find out.

«...Let's blend the ingredients»

Let’s start with the furniture, the main object of the project. The existing furniture was redesigned, making it necessary to dismantle it and restore it; we created the new furniture according to the style, finishes and details of the existing one, mixing it with the typical atmosphere of the 1950s that we wanted to recreate.

The knobs look like real antique gold brooches, used at the time to charm and embellish hats matching women’s and men’s clothing.

Each piece of furniture is different from the other, made of solid walnut, oak and whatever else, treated with natural processes.

The upper part of the concierge unit consists of a front panel made of fireproof MDf fixed to a wooden frame, and drawers and doors with invisible hinges in the lower (storage) part. All parts were coated with a siliconized mirror with polished edges.

For the wall-mounted storage unit, we used black melamine wood while the worktop is made of silestone. For the coat rack in the restaurant, we opted for a melamine wood with chrome turbo.

The furniture is really artistic. I personally have restored 19th-century canvases, paintings and frames using innovative techniques. There are also a number of colourful mirrors in special materials, some of which are tinted.

The frames are identical for all fixtures, furniture and fittings. We have also included silver decorations for the various counters.

If you haven’t yet understood how far this project is from my world, let me tell you more.

In an effort to recreate the atmosphere of the 1950s in the bar, we chose iconic furnishings, such as woven straw chairs, typical French bistro tables with metal feet, a custom-made bistro-style bar counter according to the existing model, consisting of an antique brushed oak facade and frames, a pewter top with a thick shaped edge. The bar stools were upholstered in aged leather or faux leather, chosen from the “Antic line” selection, vintage model.

The restaurant called “Bistrot de Pierre” has been renovated to a more modern look, but its authenticity and conviviality has been preserved and its “home & casual” spirit maintained.

The Provencal style has been recreated through the use of authentic and natural materials, while the casual style is expressed through the choice of comfortable and modular furniture. The chandeliers with their handcrafted character and artistic form make the guest feel at home. The setting is characterized by a real show kitchen, the colours are those of old Nice, yellow ochre and red ochre.

The project also included the supply and installation of framed black and white photos in various formats depicting 1950s Nice or scenes from black and white French films such as “La gloire de mon père” or “Manon des sources”.

I’ll stop here. I don’t want to go on too long, but if you want to know more, I will definitely write an in-depth article sometime in the future, that’s a promise.

The time has now come to open the blender and see what we have obtained.

«Like for like (Birds of a feather flock together)»

By this point, you might have understood that I was able to face and complete this challenge.

At the end of the day, we were not too different. Just as apples and oranges are similar in shape, maybe l have something in common with this project.

The ability of the Gitaly team to adapt their work to the client’s requirements certainly helped.

As a technician, l can assure you that l never even expected to have to write a blog article like this and yet, here l am.

Business card with inserted the image of the facades of Everness Hotel. - Gitaly contract



by Elisabetta Boldrini - Project Manager

«Beautiful inside... but what about outside?»

Here l am, writing again, and l’m going to go against the tide.

We always refer to inner beauty, “the important thing is to be beautiful inside”, l imagine you have heard this at least a hundred times. This is a very correct concept when referring to people, but not so correct, in my humble opinion, if related to a Hotel.

Imagine that you are a guest: you book a room, you arrive at the place and, even before entering, you find yourself in front of an old, ugly structure, with the worst colours or terrible facades. Well, maybe inside you might come across flying elephants, pink unicorns, fire breathers and the most innovative design in the world, but your first impression of the Hotel is not a positive one.

Even worse, let’s assume that we are just ordinary travellers, that we have not booked and are wandering the streets looking for a hotel. We find three on the same street to choose from. Obviously modern technology helps us make the decision, but we will largely rely on what we like best from the outside or what evokes the most positive feelings.

So, while the fact that a hotel is well-designed, functional and aesthetically appealing on the inside is crucial, so too is the exterior.

If you don’t want your Hotel to look like a prison from the outside (yes, l can tell you that this could happen), read on.

«Rome wasn’t built in a day»

So now that we have answered the question “beautiful inside… but what about outside?” with “equally beautiful”, l want to share another obvious truth with you: designing the facades of a Hotel requires study, research and time. The result, like Rome, will be magnificent.

I like to give some substance to what l say, and it is not by chance that l work at Gitaly, whose main objective is to make your ideas, projects and desires come true. This is why l would like to deal with this subject by mentioning a project we have worked on, which concerns the facades of the Hotel Everness & Resort***.

It was beautiful indoors: the new strategy was to distinguish itself from the standardized and depersonalized hotel industry and to entertain a deeper connection with the customer. This research was reflected in a series of facilities: a new wellness area, modernization of the rooms (we took care of this, EVERNESS HOTEL), development of a bar-restaurant concept, transformation of the lobby. Everything was beautifully done, but from the outside the facades did not match the image of the interior.  Let’s say that from the outside it looked like a completely different structure (remember the example above? This is the case).

Moreover, the Hotel is clearly visible from the motorway linking Geneva and Lausanne, the main road leading to Switzerland’s main cities, such as Zurich, Bern and Basel, so it was important to give character to the structure, which looked very insignificant from the motorway.

As the building is located in the middle of nature, the idea was to make it more surrounded by it by redesigning the facades.

In addition, we developed a concept that could “break the modules” by interrupting the extreme regularity and rigidity of the structure (look at the picture, it’s worth a thousand words) and also give it more verticality, considering its horizontal development.

Edgar Allan Poe said: ‘to hide something, you have to put it in full view’. Well, in such cases never do that, never paint an external staircase red to “hide” it if it doesn’t look the way you want it to.

In fact, we had to redesign the external staircase to make it part of the structure and achieve aesthetic improvement, thus harmonizing it with the concept of nature.

«A, B or C?»

I know what you are thinking but this is not a game show with one right answer. These are simply three different options that we analyzed in order to realize the facade project for the Hotel Everness & Resort***.

Let’s summarize our goals in 4 points:

● greater contact and harmony with nature and the surrounding environment;

● giving verticality;

● breaking up the modules, thus making the structure less rigid;

● improving the external staircase, by integrating it into the volume…

We carried out an in-depth study to develop the concept and to choose the materials to be used, selecting different options.

Option A

Concept for facades linked to the colors of the sky and the lake. - Gitaly contract

Materials and geometries inspired by the colour of the sky and the surrounding lake, capable of evoking strong vibrations.

Option B

Reflecting materials that could capture the surroundings and the sky for facades. - Gitaly contract

Reflecting materials that could capture the surroundings and the sky.

Option C

Natural materials such as stone or wood for facades. - Gitaly contract

Natural materials such as stone or wood to create a strong link between the structure, nature and its surroundings.

In developing the concept, we were inspired by great masters (you can always learn from the best) and l am going to mention some of them for your knowledge and to show you the great work of preparation behind each of our projects.

Who better than the new residential building designed by Cino Zucchi at the Darsena in Ravenna to express the concept of harmony with nature and the surrounding context? Just think that the building was designed with a double face (I don’t mean that in a bad way, eh): on one side it responds to the existing urban layout and on the other it connects and opens up towards the water front of the adjacent river. The structure looks like a real mosaic, giving it verticality, while the colours recall nature.

For the choice of light-reflecting materials, we looked at projects by APA Zalewski Architekci in collaboration with the Trespa company, in which they used these elements for the facades, creating a kind of union and “play” with light and the environment.

«Which option would you have chosen for your Hotel? Which one did we choose?»

If you have come this far, l hope this topic will be of interest to you. Which of the above options would you have chosen for your project? Don’t worry, there is no wrong option and you don’t win anything. We chose option B.

We opted for a light-reflecting material, because our main idea was that the facades should reflect the sky and be able to change colour according to the sky and sunlight, which, when manipulated, can become a real design element, giving the facades a unique and different look at different times of the day.

The materials chosen are HPL panels by the company Trespa from the latest collection called Lumen, available in three finishes: oblique, opaque, diffuse (they differ in their reaction to light), capable of reflecting the surrounding environment, thus perfectly integrating the structure into it.

The colour thus comes to life through light reflections.

Photorealistic rendering of facades designed for Hotel Everness & Resort. - Gitaly contract

Now, a big question: what happened to the red external stairs?

I have already told you that they have been redesigned, but let’s see how.

For the development of the concept of the external staircase we completely embraced the idea of nature and vine leaves.

We wanted to create an association with this concept because the Hotel is surrounded by vineyards and both the bar and the restaurant serve various kinds of wine from the surrounding organic vineyards, as the Director proudly reminded us several times.

The stairs were therefore covered with a geometrically textured module with perforated triangles, illuminated at night by the interior lights, creating an intersection between the interior and exterior, incorporating the staircase more into the structure.

We were inspired (to name but one) by the designs made by the international architecture firm Snøhetta for some of their clients; we revised the shape and geometry to make the project unique and branded Gitaly.

Concept of external staircase inspired to the idea of nature. - facades - Gitaly contract

Look at the images, do they remind you of anything? Well, being the nostalgic Italians that we are, it takes us back in time to Expo 2015, Italy Pavilion. You may have seen a similar texture before….

We produced drawings on drawings to optimize the cutting and drilling of the panels and reduce material waste, and then we managed to install these elements without difficulty and make our customers satisfied whilst keeping timing and budget.

Pavilion Italy - Expo 2015 designed with geometrically textured. - Gitaly contract