Mille Miglia, a race of classic, vintage, and priceless motor cars

Enzo Ferrari called Mille Miglia the most beautiful race in the world and a unique travelling museum with its convoy of priceless classic and vintage Alfa Romeos, Fiats, Maseratis, Ferraris racing through the rolling Tuscan hills. Read the full tale here

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Brilliant and imaginative reviews for The Life Negroni

The Life Negroni is a project purely from the heart, straddling the world of spirits and mixology, of art and design, of fashion, people and places… even the motor car. Co-authored by me,  a book that traverses through history and across cultures to explore a simple cocktail.

And it has been receiving some wonderful reviews too! Thank you to all the critics out there, my colleagues from design and lifestyle magazines, food and cocktail publications for your kind and imaginative words!

Here are snippets of some of the best…

‘The Life Negroni is a gorgeous book offering voyeuristic insights into a way of life which may never have existed anywhere other than the imagination, but one that is no less intoxicating for that…. As a publication, I was reminded of Luc Sante’s epic No Smoking of 2004, a masterpiece of book design. It is an album, a love letter, a guide, a memoir and a rich source of graphic delight, ‘ design critic, aesthete and author Stephen Bayley wrote in The Spectator.

Like the drink, the book drips European post-war cool… and it’s just possible it might make you a little thirsty,  Teddy Jamieson printed in The Herald Magazine.

‘Be warned: this is a gripping read,’ said Time Out.

Jonathan Bell in Wallpaper* wrote: ‘Mixing up a monograph about a single cocktail seems like a tall order, but the Banks’ celebration of all things Italian, bitter and sweet offers a life history of a famous drink.’

Bar Magazine printed: ‘The revival of the classic Negroni has given it a cult status that is celebrated over more than 300 pages in a lavish new book.’

‘The Life Negroni is an ode to this cocktail, recounting the fascinating history, examining ingredients and the people, music, art and fashions it’s inspired,’ wrote Olive Magazine.

‘It’s like going on the Negroni grand tour. La dolce vita!’ Urban Junkies.

‘It explores the influence the Negroni has had on style, fashion and etiquette, as well as the part it has played in music, art and luxury hotels,’ Brummell magazine printed.

Plus Icon magazine dedicated the ‘Obsessions’ page of the July issue to The Life Negroni authors. Thank you Icon!

… and for the best of the rest Material GalleryDesign Week, Form Trends, The Spirits Business, Saucy DressingGin FuelledBoots Shoes and Fashion, Fine Dining Lovers

Nargess Banks

This is The Life Negroni,

Learn more about The Life Negroni here

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Pininfarina on material and colour trends in car design

Materials, and colour and trim will increasingly occupy a more central role in automotive design. We catch up with Fabio Filippini, chief creative officer at Pininfarina, who shares his thoughts on the growing trends in this area and explores how his team at the Italian design consultancy are navigating the future of the interior.

How would you define the current major material, and colour and trim trends?

The trend is in offering more variety and options, and I think the level of difference ambiances and specific personalisation [a company offers] is the biggest selling factor. This applies to hyper luxury cars for extreme tailoring, but is also true of say the Smart city car.

We’re also seeing bright colours, patterns and textures that give the feeling of being hand-made, the feeling of craftsmanship.

What has excited you recently with new materials, new manufacturing processes and technologies?

Textile optical fibre that transmits light, special finishing for carbon fibre, exposed exteriors and interiors – these are all ideas we have shared with our other departments. In terms of sustainability, the reuse of natural fibres and making composite substitutes out of natural fibre.

Any specific examples…

Graphene is a new frontier of entertainment material. This is a new composite made of carbon that is clean and can transmit electricity as well as being resistant, flexible and react to shape. It can be used on surfaces to be interactive and is good for screens. It can offer a high level of flexibility and react to stimulation so it is a big step for the interface system.

I’m excited about processes whereby you can mould and treat surfaces to create patterns and textures. For example, 3D printing and digital software, used in architecture and design, can create intricate patterns in unexpected ways. The boundaries are not so defined anymore.

How much do you share ideas with other design sectors from the world of furniture, interiors, product design and fashion?

We are privileged to have different departments working with other products – furniture, sailing boats, trains, airline… so there is a great deal of good contamination from the different disciplines of creativity. We also keep up with global creativity.

Would the treatment be very different when dealing with the emission free car of the future and does it require a stronger focus on exploring sustainable materials?

The evolution of electric vehicles and sustainable technology is very relevant and design has to represent this, take advantage of it. Yes, the expression and colour should reflect the advanced technology. When you work with EV you feel more motivated to break with the codes. The customer is also ready to accept it which is double the reason not to make them look like traditional cars.

Any examples…

Yes, our Cambiano concept of 2012 where we used quite a bit of traditional wood, but in a provocative way. This is a luxury electric car, therefore it has to be technological and innovative. Yet we used recycled wood in a crude yet refined way, and placed in unexpected areas. So even though the element of luxury feeling recalls the traditional code, it still broke with tradition.

Nargess Banks

Read our previous articles on Pininfarina here.

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Piero Fornasetti, Practical Madness

‘I am a stickler for detail who loves uncertainty,’ wrote Piero Fornasetti. The quote opens Piero Fornasetti, Practical Madness, a glimpse into the life of this popular Italian artist and a delicious book in looks, feel and subject that begs to be opened, and the content devoured.

Fornasetti (1913-1988) was a painter, draughtsman, engraver, decorator and designer. Above all he was a purveyor of imagination, of poetry, something that he introduced with intelligence and wit to his body of work. His was a wonderfully whimsical world.

He collaborated with fellow creatives such as Gio Ponti together transforming furniture into objects of art and desire. He designed chairs, desks, screens, plates, cups, candles, umbrella stands, even pianos – a whole range of objects that always represent his unique and timeless aesthetic.

Fornasetti breathed life into his objects by introducing a surreal narrative that elevates the object from its simple duty. I have a candleholder of his with a portrait of a girl with such soulful eyes that, from every angle, tell a different story. The wax has long melted yet the container continues to live its second life.

Fornasetti’s paintings, presented here in this book, use malachite green and Pompeian red, and reveal his baroque imagination and sensibilities.

One incredible section gathers the artist’s drawings for his Themes & Variations plate designs that show hundreds of variations on the face of the operatic beauty Lina Cavalieri.

‘I was born into a family of wretched good taste and I use wretched good taste as the key to liberate the imagination,’ said Fornasetti. The book captures this very spirit.

Here art meets design meets poetry and an abundance of imagination. To quote Fornasetti one last time: ‘Salvation is in the imagination: if I were a government minister, I would set up a hundred schools of imagination in Italy.’ The world could really benefit from such schools.

The Internet has indirectly benefitted publishing. The huge influx of on-line magazines and blogs has forced the print world to buckle up, put every effort into creating books that not only offer information, but a physical experience.

We are hungry for some aspect of physicality to give extra value, and only books, beautifully crafted, thoughtfully written, artfully illustrated and designed, like this, can offer such an experience.

Nargess Shahmanesh Banks

Practical Madness, edited by writer and collector Patrick Mauriès, is published by Thames & Hudson to accompany an exhibition of Fornasetti’s work at the Musée des Arts décoratifs in Paris (11 March – 14 June 2015), curated by Piero’s son Barnaba Fornasetti and Mauriès.

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Italian Futurism 1909-1944

Italy was a relatively new country at the beginning of the twentieth century. It was barely 30 years old – the industrial north and traditional farming communities in the south had little in common. This was the Italy Benito Mussolini grew up in. It was also where the avant-garde Futurist movement was born.

The Italian Futurists worshiped modernity. They admired industry, speed, technology, planes and automobiles. ‘We declare that the splendour of the world has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed,’ wrote their founder the poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti in the 1909 Futurist manifesto. ‘A racing automobile with its bonnet adorned with great tubes like serpents with explosive breath … a roaring motor car which seems to run on machine-gun fire…’

Tullio Crali Before the Parachute Opens 1939. Casa Cavazzini, Museo d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Udine, Italy. Photo credit Claudio MarconCarlo-Carra-Interventionist-Demonstration-1914-©2013-Artists-Rights-Society-New-York-SIAE-Rome.-Photo-Courtesy-Solomon-R.-Guggenheim-Foundation-New-York.Italian Futurism, 1909-1944: Reconstructing the Universe at the Guggenheim Museum in New York attempts to examine the full historical breadth of the movement often lost in the dominance of Marinetti and some of the more famous members as well as its later association with the Fascist Italy of Mussolini.

Putting this association to one side, the Futurists were on the whole pretty avant-garde. The Futurist Cookbook, for instance (which I happen to be reading for a book I’m working on called The Life Negroni), published in 1931 is a provocative book, and part artistic joke, that calls for the abolition of pasta deemed an absurd Italian gastronomic religion that induces ‘lethargy, pessimism, and nostalgia’. They believed modern science would allow us to replace food with pills and vitamins, that eventually food production would be totally mechanised.

The Guggenheim exhibition features over 360 works by 80 artists, architects, designers, photographers and writers from the movement’s 1909 inception through its demise at the end of the second world war. It includes many rarely seen works, some of which have never travelled outside of Italy.

It also examines advertising (again this is something I’ve come across in my research for the book as the Futurists contributed some stunning brand work for Campari… more on this later), architecture, ceramics, design, fashion, film, free-form poetry, photography, performance, publications, music and theatre of this dynamic and often contentious movement that championed modernity and insurgency.

Nargess Banks

Italian Futurism, 1909-1944: Reconstructing the Universe is at the Guggenheim Museum, New York until 1 September 2014

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