We recently traveled to Italy and, like always, we were dazzled by the romance and character around every turn. In cities like Rome and Florence, the charming clash of the ancient city fabric with the new contemporary design attitudes make for a seamless integration that favors history and modern progress equally. Forward-thinking design is encouraged but it is always celebrated in contrast to the authenticity and character of all that is old - the tactile materials, the weathered brick & mortar, the cobblestones worn smooth by hundreds and hundreds of years of foot traffic. It makes for physical environments, both private and public, that are unparalleled. The soothing nuances created by this clash of history with contemporary society permeates everything - the spaces, the buildings, the fashion, the cultural attitudes - everything. And it's utterly beautiful.
In our work in-and-around Chicago, we regularly struggle with the interesting challenges of bringing contemporary design to authentic, historically-rich buildings. Although each project presents a unique challenge, the common goal in nearly every case is to develop an appropriate harmony between our celebration of the old and our interest in the new. In many cases, greater preference is given to the new interventions due to functional requirements or other factors outside our control. Our recent time in Italy, however, has re-galvanized our attachment to the old and has reminded us of how important history, authenticity and memory is to our work. Walking through the winding streets of the Italian cities, we were continually moved by the textures, tactility and scale all around us. It underscored how directly these things can affect us - our attitudes, our perspective, our perception - and how they can craft the most vivid of memories.
We will never forget the emotional connection we had to the cities and the amazing people with whom we were lucky enough to spend our time. While we've reserved most of our special photos for our own albums, we felt compelled to share the photos below. These bring inspiration to our work and will continue to do so for years to come. We hope you enjoy them.