Shōji – Shadow and Light

A few years ago, I was working on the computer, the day was sunny and warm and I started wondering what I was doing sitting there, closed between four walls of a room. I turned the page to a travel site questioning what country I would have liked to visit, just in case. The answer came without thinking: Japan. I knew some friends there I could visit, I had never been to Japan, it was a good reason to go. I immediately booked a trip and went to surprise my friends. Finally, got to see and experience everything I had studied in books about the Japanese style, home décor, art, colors, and life.
(click on each picture to see it larger)

At the Nijo-jo Castle – Kyoto

I was intrigued by their uses of shadow and light for aesthetic purposes. In the western world, we are used to closing our homes with metal or wood doors, multiple locks, and security cameras. In japan is sufficient a shōji screen made of washi traditional Japanese paper (I am sure in large cities might be different).

At the tea ceremony house

I sat on a lot of tatamis, an art only Japanese people can do. The beauty of a tatami room comes from the enigma of shadow and the suffused light passing from the garden through a shōji screen. Indirect light is the key element that defines a tatami room whose walls are painted in muted neutral colors that don’t distract from the peaceful feeling created.

Home of a Samurai

Japanese highest aesthetic sense comes from living in nature and emotionally responding to its beauty.
They accept nature as it is, they work with what they have and embrace it. If there is a scarcity of natural light, the Japanese create intimacy in their interiors and mystery in corners. The ceilings are not particularly high to allow a resting place for the heart and have no central lights, only one or two lamps. There is a cosmic emptiness in Japanese homes, the silence of the emptiness is disarming for us westerners used as we are to noises.

Tea Ceremony House

What is the beauty of shadow and light in traditional Japanese homes? Homes in Japan are made of wood, the frequent showers of rain create a need to build large heaves to protect the wood and to keep the rain out. The light, therefore, enters the home horizontally and not from the top, it gets diffused through the shōji screen and shadows become prominent.

The entry to a Samurai House
A private home – Kyoto

Temple in Kyoto

“Beauty arises from our daily life”. I learned so much in the two weeks I was in Japan, their culture was an adjustment for me.

Contributing to the Thursday Door Challenge, organized by Dan Antion has enabled me to go down memory lane and relive those moments. Ciao,
Valentina
Amazon Author’s Page

Copyright © 2022 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Valentina Cirasola is an interior-fashion consultant, author of 6 published books, a storyteller, and a blogger of many years. Her books are non-fictional practical ideas to apply in the home, fashion, cooking and travel.
Get a copy of her books here: Amazon and Barnes&Noble

Mediterranean Door

It’s one o’clock, businesses are closed, schools are closed, and everybody goes home for lunch. In the Mediterranean basin, life stops from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm every day. The main purpose of those four hours of pause is to have lunch with the family. After lunch, people have different activities, take a nap, read, talk on the phone, do house chores, help kids with homework, go out to exercise and many others. At 4:00 pm, all the businesses start again until the evening at 8:00 pm. This is the Mediterranean life, summer and winter.

The balcony above a business, as in my photo, often says the owner of the business lives above. In the Middle Age, it was a custom to live above the business to care for the family easier without having to walk or take the carriage to go home. Today, in Europe, the same work/living arrangement is still valid, unfortunately, there are only a few examples left.

Gioia del Colle, Puglia, Italy

The shutters of the French door on the balcony are real, meaning they have a real function, versus the decorative types I often see on houses in America. In the Summertime, the shutters are kept closed to let the fresh air in through the slats and keep out the ferocious sun. Behind the shutters, inside, the glass panels are always open.
If you are visiting Italy, make sure you eat during the hours Italians eat. Restaurants are closed for a good part of the day, as Italians love to eat under the moon and not under the sun. Lunch in restaurants is served between 12:00 and 2:00 pm, and dinner doesn’t start until 8:00 in the evening until the smallest hours of the night. In some areas on the coasts, restaurants have a full house even at 3:00-4:00 am.

I am happy to participate in the Thursday Door Challenge organized by Dan Antion, I am learning so much about doors in the world.

Ciao.
Valentina
Amazon Author’s Page

Copyright © 2022 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Valentina Cirasola is an interior-fashion consultant, author of 6 published books, a storyteller, and a blogger of many years. Her books are non-fictional practical ideas to apply in the home, fashion, cooking and travel.
Get a copy of her books here: Amazon and Barnes&Noble

At The Golden Crown Door

Prague is a beautiful and very walkable city. History is well represented in buildings, monuments, and public places. I like that, history is about what we are today.
Going around the city, I noticed the elegant stores’ doors, at least in the center of the town all stores have pleasant, inviting entrances and in some cases they are monumental.

This is a jewelry store called The Golden Crown. A lot of gold details are visible on the doors of Prague’s stores, I wondered if it has to do with the city castle where the Crown Jewels are kept, as are the relics of Bohemian kings, precious Christian relics, art treasures and historical documents.

Jewelry store
Castle Private Area

Tourists are not allowed in the private area of the castle. Too bad, I am sure there are a lot of interesting things in there I wanted to see.

Prague is a magical town, its austere look makes it a bit alchemic on the dark side, in fact, a few “noir” European films were produced here, but when the sun shines, the city’s red roofs and spires designing the sky, give the impression of being in a fable book.

This is for Thursday Door Challenge hosted by Dan Antion. Ciao,
Valentina
Amazon Author’s Page

Copyright © 2022 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Valentina Cirasola is an interior-fashion consultant, author of 6 published books, a storyteller, and a blogger of many years. Her books are non-fictional practical ideas to apply in the home, fashion, cooking and travel. Get a copy of her books here: Amazon and Barnes&Noble

The Door To Pleasure

Venice, the only Italian Venice I know, never stops to surprise me. Recently, I visited Giacomo Casanova’s exhibition at the museum in San Francisco. One of the rooms was set up as the “Putta House” (the prostitution house), the only one allowed by law in the Carampane district, often frequented by Casanova. The background wall in the exhibition showed how the lady of the night incited the trade by flashing their breasts from the brothel’s windows that overlooked the “Ponte delle Tette” (the bridge of tits).

The trade of selling sex was a common work in the Republic of Venice in the 16th Century, a city frequented by rich merchants, kings, gamblers, Italian and foreign nobles, art dealers, and a lot of the upper crust of society. The government made this kind of work legal and collected taxes from the women, but they weren’t free to live as they pleased. The government, with a decree, decided on the life of the brothel, limiting the area, time and days of operations, even dictated what the women had to wear such as a yellow scarf to distinguish themselves from respectable women. Although they were allowed to sell themselves legally, they were often scrutinized by the Inquisition for their licentious customs.

Inside a “Putta” House – Casanova Exhibition

The society divided them in two categories:
* the low-rank courtesans “cortigiane di lume” (courtesans of the light), poor and inexpensive;
* the high-rank courtesans “cortigiane oneste” (honest courtesans), very stylish and educated that could pass for respectable women regardless of their sins.

The high-ranking women were social climbers, depending on “la creme de la creme” of the Venetian society, and on influential lovers to accumulate wealth. Among these honest courtesans, Veronica Franco, became well known on the international scene. She was beautiful, educated, classy and was the subject of Tintoretto’s paintings. In the poetries she wrote, she encouraged women to stand up for themselves.

Inside of “Putta” House – Casanova Exhibition

Does this last view look real? Yes, it does but it’s not. It’s a tridimensional painting I brought from Venice.

This is my entry for Thursday Door Challenge, hosted by Dan Antion. Ciao,
Valentina
Amazon Author’s Page


Copyright © 2022 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Valentina Cirasola is an interior-fashion consultant, author of 6 published books, a storyteller, and a blogger of many years. Her books are non-fictional practical ideas to apply in the home, fashion, cooking and travel. Get a copy of her books here: Amazon and Barnes&Noble

Artifact Door

I had the opportunity to meet the renowned Italian artist Gino Donvito whose art doesn’t reflect anybody’s fashion. The artist lives in the Puglia region, a southern part of Italy. Emperor Frederic II and the Medieval life of the Emperor’s time are the focus of his art. A common friend to the artist introduced me to Gino Donvito. He drove me to his home and a new world of art opened up to me. A sign outside the artist’s home grabbed my attention. It said “An artist lives here” almost like a warning. Gino Donvito, the man wearing glasses in the sign, is looking straight into the eyes of Emperor Frederic II, in a confrontational attitude. I felt the sign was a challenge, at least to me.

Sign outside the artist’s home

I couldn’t help, while I was admiring his art, to notice the décor of this very peculiar home. An antique Indonesian door was readapted into a coffee table, with a glass top protecting the beautiful design and the metal decorations.

Artifact Door at Artist Gino Donvito’s home

The mixed eclectic décor made this home masculine, but very interesting. Eastern furniture met Western furniture; modern lighting and old gas oil lamps beautifully illuminated each room; Egyptian fabrics and Persian rugs contributed to the elegance of the home. Nothing matched in this décor, brass and bronze statues, ceramic and carved wood objects, old books and a lot of music records decorated the home. One main area looked into a courtyard full of olive trees, stones and tall succulent plants. The exposed wood ceiling beams and a very tall fireplace made a warm inviting home. The artist’s paintings, brushes, the many boxes of colors, and his wines were scattered everywhere.

Usually, we are accustomed to seeing the same style of interior doors. This home didn’t have a lot of interior doors, but those few were designed with different crowns and everyone hosted books.

Entrance to Gino Donvito’s home

Outside his home, nature was rough, uncultivated, and virgin, therefore the architecture of the home communicated in that context. The wood entry door was very simple, a couple of signs portraying the artist and the Emperor created the excitement of what was inside. His family’s vineyard produces excellent wines and I got to taste them as well. Getting to know Gino Donvito felt very comfortable, I had the impression to have known this artist for a long time.

If you like to know about some of his art, he paints on wood Medieval faces and Medieval life views.
I wouldn’t mind having one of his faces painted on one of my doors.

This is in response to the Thursday Doors challenge, hosted by Dan Antion. Ciao,
Valentina
Amazon Author’s Page

Copyright © 2022 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Valentina


Valentina Cirasola is an interior-fashion consultant, author of 6 published books, a storyteller, and a blogger of many years. Her books are non-fictional practical ideas to apply in the home, fashion, cooking and travel.
Get a copy of her books here:
Amazon and Barnes&Noble

Picasso – Catalan Door

In Barcelona, every street and every building speak art and design. At the Picasso Museum, I expected to find a modern building, maybe a surreal building, as I see many of the modern museums around the world hosting surrealist art, instead I found a typical Catalan gothic style, almost the same as the Spanish Colonial architecture seen in Central America. I was not disappointed, the building was very nice, and I had a lot of architecture to study and admire.  I think the modern glass door needed to be a heavy carved wood door to keep in style with the decorative stone pediment above.

Picasso Museum – Barcelona, Spain

The museum is located on 15 Carrer de Montcada, in the Baró Gotico, basically, the historic heart of Barcelona and it spreads through five ancient stone palaces built in the 13th and 14th centuries. Through an exterior staircase in the courtyard filled with palm trees, the visitors can reach the exhibition areas upstairs.

Up there, the primary focus is on Picasso the apprentice and his early artistic life. With the teacher, his father, he mastered the human anatomy, the psychological insight of portraits, learned to paint real feelings as death and life. Growing up in France he tried to emulate many of his colleagues’ techniques: impressionist landscapes, posters and still lives.

Picasso Museum – Barcelona, Spain

It was a great pleasure to learn about his early work of the period he lived in Barcelona, a collection hardly seen anywhere. One can see over 4,000 works between paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, and ceramics.

Picasso declared he was taught to paint as an adult when he was a teenager and painted as a child when he was in his eighty.
The Museum sells more than one million tickets each year, if you plan of going over there, get prepared.

This is in response to the Thursday Doors challenge, hosted by Dan Antion. Ciao,
Valentina
Amazon Author’s Page

Copyright © 2022 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Valentina

Valentina Cirasola is an interior-fashion consultant, author of 6 published books, a storyteller, and a blogger of many years. Her books are non-fictional practical ideas to apply in the home, fashion, cooking and travel.
Get a copy of her books here:
Amazon and Barnes&Noble

Coffered Door

Bari, my native town is dotted with classic and neoclassic style doors. The coffered red door in my photo was, at one point in history, the entrance to a patrician home. A coffer in architecture is a series of sunken panels in the shape of a square, rectangle, or octagon in a ceiling, soffit, or vault, usually found in historical buildings of powerful families, nobles, and royals. Doors were also designed in the coffer style to mark the importance of the family living there. Today, this building with a coffered red door is home to regular working people, the patina of time on the stones around the door tells the story… it is a great expense to clean those stones, modern people without servants usually don’t pay much attention, busy as they are making a living.

Bari Vecchia (Old Bari), Italy

This type of door has a central panel that opens to let in only one person at a time. It closes with a latch and a huge iron key just like a castle key. An iron door knocker announces that someone is at the door asking to come in, otherwise, the usual screaming in the street, calling someone’s name would do the trick and a person would come out at the balcony to respond.
Usually, this large door opens into an atrium without a roof, where people socially congregated. In the atrium, a set of stairs will take the people to their flats.

Bari’s old town has been revamped to accommodate fancy businesses and tourists more than residents. About twenty years ago, the city gave incentives to people living in the old Bari to leave the area and find newer homes in the modern part of Bari. As a consequence, many designers, movie producers, music makers, architects, lawyers, and many professionals took over the top floors of the historical area. Down below at the street level, restaurants, bars, pubs, various eating places, and shops for tourists occupied what was once warehouses, deposits, and market stalls. Today, old Bari is very safe and retains the charm of an ancient town. It is called the living room of the city. I remember when I needed a man to accompany me as a protection, just to attempt to walk around along the perimeter of the old town, it was never advisable for a woman by herself to get lost in the deep part where it would have been difficult to get out.

This is my entry for Thursday Doors challenge, hosted by Dan Antion. Ciao,
Valentina
Amazon Author’s Page

Copyright © 2022 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Valentina Cirasola is an interior-fashion consultant, author of 6 published books, a storyteller, and a blogger of many years. Her books are non-fictional practical ideas to apply in the home, fashion, cooking and travel.
Get a copy of her books here:
Amazon and Barnes&Noble

La Salle Dore’ – Door With A View

I visited la Salle or Salon Dore’ at the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco when it was just reopened after a newly refitted for a seismic area. The room is a re-creation of an elegant French neoclassical interior architecture. At the time I was remodeling an upscale home in the very same French style. The hinges of the doors in this room reminded me of the same ancient door hinges I had seen in my grandmother’s home and in many ancient homes of regular blokes I visited when I was a child.

The hinges allowed the doors to open away from the frame and lay flat on the walls, giving more space to the ladies wearing a panier dress to pass through without going sideways. That’s what women wore in the 1700s. One can see the full door opened in the rectangular photo (click on the photo to see it larger).
This hinge also allowed the owner of the mansion to see how many guests were in the salon without really being seen. My lovely vane grandmother did the same thing, she wanted to be fully prepared to receive her guests and peeped through the half-open door hinge. She came out when the room was full of people.

A very special door hinge at La Salle Dore’

A Bit of History
During the reign of Louis XVI, the rooms’ style in patrician mansions reflected the grandeur of ancient Rome. Evoking the great exploits of Imperial Rome with giant gilded Corinthian pilasters, tall arched mirrors, trophies of war and love was the way to convey a higher social status of the owner.

Salle or Salon Dore’ Photo: Legion Of Honor

The Salle Dore’ is a historical room that passed hands many times since 1795. Its boiserie (wood paneling) beautified the rooms of many world noble elite, notable business people and bankers, from the Hôtel de la Trémoille in Paris to Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild’s mansion in England, to Mr. Rheem in Burlingame, California until finally arrived in San Francisco at the Legion of Honor Museum and re-created in its full original beauty.

My client ended up decorating one of the rooms in her home sort of like this Salon with bergères, and a canapé upholstered in blue and white silk, armchairs and console tables against the walls. The hinges….?
I had to wrack my brain to find a blacksmith who could reproduce the very same style, nothing less, or my head would have come down.
This is my entry for Thursday Doors challenge, hosted by Dan Antion. Ciao,
Valentina
Amazon Author’s Page

Copyright © 2022 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved


Valentina Cirasola is an interior-fashion consultant, author of 6 published books, a storyteller, and a blogger of many years. Her books are non-fictional practical ideas to apply in the home, fashion, cooking and travel.
Get a copy of her books here: Amazon and Barnes&Noble

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