THE HOUSE OF TIME

Black, shiny and silent in their gentle rocking motion, two gondolas wait in front of the Venetian palace to re-accompany guests, ready to glide quick and light along the rios and canals, in the damp, tepid breeze that combines the fragrances of the sea with the scents wafting up from centuries of history.

If it were not for the fact that they had recently been immortalized in a photograph revealing their age, you would not know if these ancient steeds of the lagoon would soon come into contact with the shiny, sumptuous brocades and dark, secretive cloaks of bygone eras, or by the far more practical and much less enchanting modern garb. Taken from the waters of the Grand Canal, not far from the spot where this 14th-century building overlooks the ancient waterway, between Rialto and Ca’ d’Oro, the photograph in question occupies a dominant position at the entrance to this large, modern, top-floor apartment, the most linear, airy and panoramic of the ancient building. It is one of the many examples of the presence of the past in a home that narrates, with striking contemporary taste, the distinctive and timeless qualities of Venice, which, beyond the city’s unmatched beauty and charm, liken it to a silent, eternal, and imperturbable divinity. Essentiality, above all. This was the principal characteristic requested by the clients, a couple who are passionate about their travels in Asia and Africa and who envisioned large, well-lit, easily-inhabited spaces, with accommodation for the numerous pieces of their contemporary art collection. Claudia Pelizzari oversaw the refurbishment of their apartment, creating an environment that is at once calm and full of surprises. Sudden glimpses of black or chocolate brown walls create a sense of movement while emphasizing the play of a succession of ancient ceiling beams, creating the impression of upturned boats. Natural materials and soft colors, ranging from white to sand, combine to create an understated, elegant and functional living room, an ideal backdrop for the large painting, After Delacroix, by Timothy Tompkins, and for the tentacled installation in Murano glass by the American artist Dale Chihuly, suspended from the “upside down boat” forms of the ceiling.

The bright yellow hues of the latter work are repeated in an oil painting by the same artist that animates the alcove located in a secluded corner of the room, a pleasant place to relax amongst silks and velvets that give it an air of times gone by. Another symbol of the glorious past is the 18th-century Moor of Venice presiding over the dining room, a space punctuated by the rigorous forms of the steel table and the sharp curves of the American chairs in black lacquer. In counterpoint, on one of the walls, the joyful and colorful installation by Jacob Hashimoto consisting of countless pieces of parchment, mother-of-pearl and Plexiglas, held together by fine threads. This complex piece is rendered vibrant by spotlights that illuminate it from below. The airy modernity of the kitchen, long and narrow as a galley, functions as both a gastronomic laboratory and a passageway between the living area and the guest quarters. A small, un-plastered square in the original wall provides an anchor to the past by revealing a sample of the original brickwork, alternated by strips of wood to reduce the weight of the bearing walls. This natural yet sophisticated atmosphere, animated by interesting touches, continues in the large master bedroom, where a glass wall isolates the bed from the noises of life along the Grand Canal: merchants shouting at the Rialto markets, the wailing sirens of the vaporetti, the calls of the gondoliers. The silence permits the view to evolve in a beautiful and timeless panorama, with the sumptuous marbles of the palaces in their alternating tones of pink and gold, and the mysterious and murky waters of the canal flowing past in a song of supreme nostalgia.