CARPI, ITALY — Don’t expect flowery or ruched settees, romantic canopy beds or embroidered pillows at Anna Molinari’s hotel.
This story first appeared in the December 27, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Actually, it’s hardly noticeable that the clean and minimal Touring Hotel here is the latest undertaking from the designer known for her feminine collections and her rose-flowered patterns. The only giveaways are the designer’s licensed bedspreads and bathroom tiles.
In addition to a certain dose of reserve, Molinari said there is a more practical reason behind this evasiveness.
“Since we expect our guests to be here on business for a number of different fashion houses, we thought it more tactful to avoid any personal publicity,” she said.
The small town, west of Bologna and about 100 miles from Milan, is one of Italy’s strongest knitwear production centers, with almost 2,000 manufacturing laboratories, but no hotel accommodations, until now.
While the Touring Hotel has a history dating back to the Fifties, when it was created by the designer’s father, Guido, it was shut down more than a decade ago when he passed away.
“The new Hotel Touring is both a tribute to my father and to the city of Carpi, our hometown,” the designer said.
The hotel was restructured during the past three years, with the help of her son, Gianguido Tarabini.
“I could never have done it without him,” she said. “We have the same taste and agree on everything. I’m ready to repeat this experience with other hotels around the world.”
Tarabini, who worked alongside three architects to restructure the hotel, in his everyday life is in charge of of business relations with Asia at Blufin SpA, the family company that produces the Anna Molinari and Blumarine labels. His father, Gianpaolo, is the firm’s chief executive officer and his sister, Rossella, designs the Anna Molinari label.
The hotel is set at the intersection of three streets and is a five-minute walk from the town’s station. The building is comprised of three wings and the 68 rooms are marked by three colors: azure gray, seafoam green and salmon. The original brick facade is now encased in a steel web with aluminum plates.
“In the evenings, the lighting is impressive, playing with the steel slabs,” Tarabini said.
The main common areas of the hotel are the sitting and reading room behind the reception, the bar, called Bluebar, and a restaurant.
“The design is clean, minimalist, essential and modern — but never cold,” Tarabini said. “We want our guests to feel at home.”
This effect is achieved through the scattering of carpets from Afghanistan and crepe mats, lamps made with paper shades, raffia armchairs and soft leather pillows.
An earthtone palette and soft lighting contribute to create a warm environment, with ecrù hard-back stuffed chairs, bleached oak shelves and champagne tablecloths contrasted with dark wengé-wood tables and chocolate brown sofas. Wall-size mirrors framed in wengé wood give light and space to rooms. Small, handcrafted plates from the Philippines, orchids and other exotic plants add an Oriental touch to the furniture, which reflects sleek designs from the Far East and Japan.
The restaurant overlooks a private garden, enclosed by the hotel. Tarabini asked a well-known family of restaurateurs, the Bellonis, who own eateries in Genova and Las Vegas, and a hotel in Portofino, to manage the restaurant. The hotel restaurant offers Italian food, with a special selection of local dishes. Emilia, the region where Carpi is located, is famous in the country for its handmade pasta, tortellini, lasagna and Bolognese sauce. Emilia’s ham and other cold cuts are enough to attract gourmet palates from all over Italy.
“All this washed down with our Lambrusco [a sparkly red wine], there is nothing better,” Molinari said.
“We hope our aperitifs will attract customers who are not staying in the hotel, so that the bar becomes a meeting point for the city,” Tarabini said.
The four-star hotel, where rooms cost between $120 and $150 a night, opened in mid-November, but will officially be inaugurated in January.