Location: Tuscany, Italy
Type: Hotel & art foundation
Year: 2018 – 2019
Area: 2100 sqm / 22,600 sqft
Hesselbrand is an international architectural studio established by Martin Brandsdal, Magnus Casselbrant, and Jesper Henriksson in 2014, with offices in London and Oslo. Their work includes a wide spectrum of arts, cultural, hospitality, and residential projects, spanning a range of scales from interiors and temporary installations to new build houses and multi-story buildings.
Recent projects include the re-design and major renovation of a hotel and art foundation in Tuscany (Villa Lena), a global concept for flagship stores and temporary retail spaces for a fashion brand (1017 ALYX 9SM), a 200 bedroom hotel and spa in Ticino, Switzerland (Acquarossa), a co-living housing project in Sweden (Rooms House), a high-end holiday home in Norway (Heggesaetra), and a fine art gallery in London (Soho Revue Gallery). In 2016, Hesselbrand delivered the exhibition design for the British Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale (Home Economics).
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The design for Villa Lena, a hotel and art foundation in Tuscany, is based around the principle of creating a social experience for guests and artists who are brought together by common interests. The project is focused on the transformation of an old stable into a space that answers to the contemporary needs of hotel guests and artists alike. A dialogue between permanent and temporary elements, as well as traditional and contemporary design, results in a building that feels rooted in its history while being very flexible in its use.
The two floors of the building have been reconfigured with new plans that allow users to choose how social or intimate they want to be, both in the shared spaces and inside the bedrooms. The main principle for the guest rooms is to create a range of standards that transcends the traditional hotel star system.
The design aims to express the meeting between the classical and contemporary, where the natural meets the artificial and the beauty found in the intersection of handmade and machine-made objects.
The social spaces are designed to work not only for the guests but also for the artists and curators as an experimental space. The artwork changes over time, and many of the objects on display are half-finished prototypes, material tests, or samples taken from the artist studios. The special kind of beauty in the process of making art becomes exposed to the social spaces of the building. This means that the interiors are always in constant development, much like the studio spaces of the artists in residence.