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Dream Weavers: Missoni Opens First Hotel

The house of Missoni is throwing open its closets for a museum exhibition and a brand new hotel.

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“Futurist Suit” by Giacomo Balla.

“Futurist Suit” by Giacomo Balla.

Giacomo Balla

“Nuovi Arazzi 7” by Ottavio Missoni

“Nuovi Arazzi 7” by Ottavio Missoni

Ottavio Missoni

The entrance to the new Missoni hotel in Edinburgh is as hard to miss as one of the house’s signature knits: oversize ceramic vases covered in that unmistakable geometric pattern serve as a welcome mat. Rosita Missoni, creative director of the firm’s home collection, hopes these pieces will be a giveaway to the hotel’s branded design and serve as a model for more outposts.

“I didn’t want big, bold signs, but something iconic and distinctive,” she says.

Though the discreet basalt facade blends in with the surrounding buildings, the hotel’s interior features a bold exercise of color: acid green, fuchsia, red, orange and purple are all used to kaleidoscopic effect. Six floors of 137 rooms and seven suites are peppered with furniture by Marcel Wanders, Eero Saarinen, Arne Jacobsen and Hans Wegner, at times upholstered with the brand’s colorful prints. And Missoni even gave a nod to Scottish heritage, including works by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, like his famed ladderback chair.

The project, which opened last month as part of a 15-year license with the Rezidor Hotel Group, is “a natural evolution of our home business, which was initiated 30 years ago,” says Massimo Gasparini, Missoni’s ceo.

The venture has served as an experiment of sorts: The company had to develop a specific fiber for the black-and-white fringed curtains — originally made of viscose — through which guests view the majestic Edinburgh Castle, sea and rugged volcanic hills beyond. And, naturally, employees all sport Missoni-designed uniforms.

It is the first of many hotels from the fashion house. A second will open in Kuwait this fall; another will be completed in Cape Town, South Africa, in time for the 2010 World Cup football tournament there. A future resort is slated for Oman in 2011, and an ecological one is planned for Brazil.

Hotel Missoni Edinburgh, 1 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, +44-131-220-6666,hotelmissoni.com. Rooms start at 210 pounds, or $347.

— Luisa Zargani

There’s a riot taking place in north London’s quiet, leafy Canonbury Square — and the Missonis started it. It’s a clash of eye-searing colors, patterns and textures, a pileup of patchwork, knitwear and artwork, which showcases Ottavio and Rosita Missoni’s inspirations during their 56 years in fashion.

The exhibit, “Workshop Missoni: Daring to be Different,” which runs until Sept. 20, highlights the fashion label’s artistic influences: the French artist Sonia Delaunay and the Italian Futurists like Giacomo Balla and Gino Severini.

“Futurism was my parents’ youth,” says Luca Missoni, the couple’s second son and curator of the show at the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art. He’s referring to the early 20th-century artistic movement that treasured all things mechanical, swift, bold — and often violent. “They grew up in Forties and Fifties Italy, an incredible period for creativity.”

As Luca explains, the show is meant to highlight the origins of his parents’ passion for color and texture. Rosita and Ottavio — Tai as he’s known — discovered a mutual love of the arts, color and fabric when they met in 1948 during the London Olympics, where the Dubrovnik-born Tai was competing as a member of the Italian track team.

This show reflects a lifetime of work and acquisition, featuring a mix of pieces from the Missonis’ private art collection as well as their original creations from on and off the catwalk. A 1918 Futurist Suit by Balla, covered in irregular triangles, hangs alongside Severini’s brightly colored, angular painting, “Danseur Classique,” and Delaunay’s upbeat watercolors.

There are also Tai’s tapestries and portraits of his children, each of which have been crafted from scraps of fabric; examples of special projects such as the couples’ Africa-inspired costumes for the 1990 World Cup opening ceremonies, and films of the busy looms at the Missoni factories, their hum transformed into a soundtrack, which Luca proudly refers to as a “textile symphony.”

Other highlights include a 30-minute documentary about the Missonis by Maggie Norden, director of creative media at London’s College of Fashion, and video works by the Turkish artist Ali Kazma that track the couple’s creative process.

Earlier this year, Luca founded the Ottavio and Rosita Missoni Foundation, the aim of which is to promote and preserve his parents’ history and Tai’s original art. “They met and there was a spark,” Luca says, “and then a melting pot of creativity.”

— Samantha Conti

Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, 39a Canonbury Square, London, +44-20-7704-9522.

 

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