An eclectic project on the Black Sea coast
Art Depot Studio
For decades Odessa was the Miami of the communist world. With its grid of nineteenth century and Art Nouveau city-centre buildings and princely villas and tenement-house hotels gracing the northern shores of the Black Sea, it was the destination of choice for the top brass of communist parties from all over the world, who came here to overwinter and escape from their colds and various political ills. Today it is a lively and cosmopolitan tourist and commercial metropolis with a population of over a million, renowned for its cordial and cheerful inhabitants, museums, theatres, tasteful and luxury boutiques (including many Italian designer names), its long sandy beaches and wealth of colours. It also has plenty of large parks, one of which – Shevchenko Park, along Lidersovsky Boulevard – recently saw the construction of a kind of contemporary castle with three high towers clad in glass, aluminium and shiny ceramic, crowned by a dome reminiscent of the bulging cupolas of Orthodox churches or the ogival shapes of Soyuz spacecraft. The sea is close by, just beyond the tops of the trees.
This, then, is the context of the apartment we are visiting. Mariana Bondar, the architect commissioned to create the interior design in the fusion/classic style requested by the clients, took these surroundings into account in the soft solar interiors through an extensive use of white tones, expressively contrasted with the brownish shades of the floor coverings; and together evoking the classicism of the city’s architectures evident in the lacunar ceilings, and in the pilasters and windows that punctuate the walls. The layout on the other hand departs from local traditions and is based on strongly rational and contemporary principles. The daytime areas and the night quarters are kept clearly separated but at the same time can be united by means of a system of doors that transform the house into a large continuous space (almost 150 square metres). In this eclectic scenario, Mariana Bondar – who as well as an architect is also the owner of Terrakota, a design firm closely linked to major brands of Italian furniture and clay products – has created a clear, easily interpretable and elegant decoration based on a strong « old England » sentiment skilfully mitigated by French-style country touches and extensive use of the sophistication and solid expertise of Italian furnishing design. Spruce wood plank flooring, vaguely antiqued leather armchairs, Corinto Divani sofas, I Falagnami beds, a GI Cinque kitchen. But the triumph of Italian products in this apartment is completed by ceramic tiles and mosaics from Settecento, a company that boasts a well-established presence in Ukraine, especially among elite customers as demonstrated by the success of the « Alta gamma » collection. Explaining this choice, Mariana Bondar commented: « These ceramic tiles were chosen for the kitchen and bathroom when the owners fell in love with the damask velvety effect of the Velvet series from the New Baroque collection. They imagined them in the finished project as a kind of Venetian decorative tapestry perfectly in harmony with the mercantile history of Odessa, a crossroads between Europe and the Middle East. » The appeal of the decor is further enhanced by the gloss-matt contrast between the surface and the background and the sophisticated ton-sur-ton colours: the almost camel beige of the walls and the mocha of the floors coordinate harmoniously with the dark brown of the wood floor. « I hope that I have succeeded in creating a rigorous yet comfortable residential space where the subtle contrasts and the interplay between the various inspirations in terms of origin, period, style and materials makes it a pleasant place to live, » the architect observes.