600 Years and Still Standing | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

August 19, 1418, Florence announced a competition for anyone to participate with an idea on how to build the dome for Santa Maria Del Fiore Cathedral. Up to that moment, the cathedral had been building for a century already and no one knew how to build a dome on top with a span of 143 feet diameter, thus the construction came to a dead end until a goldsmith and a clockmaker participated with extravagant plans and won the competition. He was Filippo Brunelleschi, forty-one at the time. For the next twenty-eight years, he would be preoccupied with the novelty construction methods he proposed for the dome and occupied building it. Brunelleschi revolutionized architecture with his original plans and designs.

In the Renaissance, the patrons of the arts threw a lot of money around to get the best-looking buildings, the most beautifully decorated rooms, or to acquire paintings made by the most known artists. It should have been easy to build something extravagant, in reality, it was not. Due to the lack of powerful machinery, Brunelleschi felt the need to invent sophisticated pieces of engineering machines and mechanic tools never been seen before to bring his plans to the realization. Some of those types of machinery are still in use today.

Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral

Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral – photo by Gabriele Colzi with permission of the author

The city official of Florence needed a large striking cathedral to reflect its political importance in the world of the 1500s Renaissance, a time when every European country was erecting the tallest buildings just to prove how close to God they could be. Brunelleschi’s life as the master of this project was not at all sweet. People tried their best to discredit him, there was gossip, feuds between prominent political Florentine families, intrigues, the fight between city, states, nobles, and all the artists competing, then the plague arrived and decimated Europe.

The dome construction kept going despite all the adversities and it was completed. It is the largest dome still standing since the fifteenth century. No one to these days has made a different form of Brunelleschi’s dome.
Somewhere in the world history is remembered, revered, studied, and not burned down.

Author Ross King wrote a book called Brunelleschi’s Dome, a very informative book about the construction of the dome, the machinery invented on the spot to get the job done, and all the disputes behind the curtains of this massive project. I read the book twice, I was so enthralled, that year I planned a trip to Florence, just to enjoy with my eyes what I read.
I also reviewed the book on Goodreads. Visit me there too, if you can.

Today, scrolling through my Instagram feed I found this beautiful photo by Gabriele Colzi from Florence. He makes pictures with a soft pink/yellowish tone using Huawei P40 Pro. His photographs are so beautiful. Many thanks to Gabriele to let me use his photo. Ciao,
Amazon’s Author Page 

Copyright © 2020 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

It’s my hope that through my writing and my stories I am enriching your aesthetic sensibility towards design, style, and inspiring you to live in beauty. I love to encourage my clients to show their personality through their home décor, or the clothes they wear. I have loved my profession as an interior-fashion designer since 1990. I am here ready to offer consultations on-line if you need it. Check out one of my books on the subject of colors, ©RED-A Voyage Into Colors, Second Edition.Amazon:
and Barnes&Noble


The Eye Of Your Home | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

http://myatozchallenge.com/2012/02/20/welcome-to-my-a-to-z-challenge-2/Welcome to my personal A to Z Challenge on the subject of Home. The goal, in a year time, is to elaborate and dissect topics regarding the Home not as containers of stuff, but as a cocoon for the soul, mind, and heart. I will touch on decorations, style, trends, history of the home and sometimes technical information.
Now I have two months left to complete my challenge. The beat is on.

What is an oculus (plural oculi)? It’s an eye-like opening or ornament found in many Neoclassical, Baroque and Byzantine buildings of Italy and Europe. It is often a round window and less often a circular opening at the apex of a dome. The Pantheon in Rome is the finest example, its oculus measures 27 ft in diameter. The purpose of the oculus was to collect rainwater, which was channeled into drains for later usage. The water functioned as an early example of air conditioning as it kept the building cool during summer months. The other necessary function was to allow the sunlight in for natural light in the building.

The world admires Filippo Brunelleschi’s Dome and Santa Maria Del Fiore Cathedral in Florence, Palladian villas in the Veneto area of Italy and Syrian Byzantine buildings all carrying oculi,  but I really wonder if the mass tourism cares to know about these architectural inventions that stood the taste of time and are still loved today.

Photo: Florence – Eleonora Altomare – Unsplash

Opéra municipal de Clermont-Ferrand, œil de bœuf – Photo: Stockholm -Wikimedia Commons


Photo: Fernando Tapia -unsplash

During the Byzantine Empire the oculi were common details to see on buildings from 5th to 10th century in Constantinople, however during the Italian Renaissance the open oculi on cupolas were substituted with round windows and skylights and in the Baroque era, round windows with an eyebrow on top or ornate stone carvings around an oculus took a more elongate form than circular. The French called them œil de boeuf (bull’s eye).

Nautical Theme Model Kitchen

In my early design career, one of the projects I designed with oculi gave me a lot more satisfaction. It was a remodeling of a kitchen for a gentleman who had devoted his life to sea navigation. For him, I choose naval style cabinetry with ship porthole on each door,  decorative brass details, and hardware (see photos of my model). After the kitchen was completed we went on to remodeling the rest of the house, all in the naval style.

In modern décor, round windows and openings are not very common due to the high manufacturing cost, but when there is one, it is usually a very good-looking style. I love the Brooklyn Clock loft round window I found on Pinterest.

Looking at a view through a round shape is very natural. It’s like your own eye projecting subtle illumination in the interior spaces. My suggestion is to spend money on solid architectural details that will add value to the home and leave out the meaningless details. Solutions are limitless, ask me if you need ideas. Ciao,

Copyright © 2013 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved  

PrintIt’s my hope that through my writing I am enriching your aesthetic sensibility towards design, style and inspire you to live in beauty. I have loved my profession as an interior designer since 1990. I am here ready to offer consultations on-line if you need it. Check out my latest book on colors ©RED-A Voyage Into Colors, available on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

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