“Instead Armani’s interiors possess the formal grace of a Japanese ryokan, only darker in tone and significantly more luxurious.”
-Mitchell Owens in Architectural Digest March 2012
While working on my sayonara series of posts, I had photos of fashion designer Giorgio Armani’s ski chalet in Switzerland from the March issue of Architectural Digest queued up for use. The design featured some tansu used in dramatic ways, but something about the entire home struck a chord with me and I decided to set it aside until I could figure out what it was. It came to me in that magic way ideas can just germinate in a passive mind in a calm moment, that the home felt Japanese in more ways than just the few pieces of furniture. It reminded me of a similar spread on author and Japanologist Alex Kerr’s famous renovation – or more accurately rescue and restoration – of an old Japanese home, also featured in AD, but about ten years ago.
Since then I have managed to read the article accompanying the Armani photos and it makes no bones about the parallel to Japanese design. Armani’s La Punt, Switzerland winter getaway is a restored 17th century barn that has been converted into a sleekly modern ski home, in a very Japanese vernacular. It is not surprising that the gleaming mahogany walls, floors and beams and streamlined furniture coupled with Japanese antiques, including half of a tansu hiding behind the sofa in the photo below, in the soaring cavernous space, remind me of…
…Alex Kerr’s restored 18th century farmhouse in the Iya Valley. In addition to writing Lost Japan and Dogs and Demons, Kerr has become one of the standard bearers in the movement to preserve Japan’s vanishing arts, culture and traditional lifestyle in the face of globalization and modernization.
Beamed details and grid-like wall pattern around the hearth at Armani’s…
…beamed details and grid-like built-ins around the hearth at Kerr’s.
Upstairs at Armani’s place, a pair of fraternal twin tansu stand guard on either side of the window in the bedroom.
Upstairs at Alex Kerr’s there are at least a quintuplet of tansu siblings, including the kaidan tansu on the left and assorted mizuya tansu around the room.
Simple beds, low to the ground and fireplaces with little adornment are common…
…at both homes.
I think Kerr’s place is more romantic, but I am sure Armani’s is more comfy!
Image credits: Giorgio Armani’s home in Architectural Digest March 2012, photo credits: Roger Davies, Alex Kerr’s home in Architectural Digest August 2002, photo credits: Erhard Pfeiffer