You wouldn’t expect the new Milan outpost of Fondazione Prada, the cultural foundation spearheaded by Miuccia Prada and her husband Patrizio Bertelli, to have just any old cafe, so who better to design it but style-conscious director Wes Anderson?
Called Bar Luce, its décor is a tribute to both traditional Milanese cafes and some of the director's favorite Italian Neorealist films of the '60s (such as Luchino Visconti's 1960 film Rocco and His Brothers), an influence that informs the aqua formica tables and lime green banquettes in the small booths.
Anderson fans will make a beeline for the pinball machine with a Steve Zissou (marine explorer anti-hero of Anderson's The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou) motif (below). At the same time, the cafe retains some architectural and decorative details from the complex's original structure, a distillery built in 1910. Its arched ceiling is a smaller-scale version of the vaulted glass roof of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, a 19th century predecessor of the shopping mall and one of the city's iconic buildings (still filled with shops).
"While I do think it would make a pretty good movie set," Anderson said of the new cafe, "I think it would be an even better place to write a movie. I tried to make it a bar I would want to spend my own non-fictional afternoons in.”
The Fondazione's Milan arts complex (there's another one in Venice) is itself a similar blend of the traditional and the contemporary filtered through an artistic sensibility. The distillery's seven existing buildings have been supplemented by three new ones designed by architect (and United Nude shoe impressario) Rem Koolhaas. They include galleries to house works from the Prada permanent collection, a cinema, and two permanent installations.
Inaugural exhibitions include displays of cars created by artists; an exploration of how the part represents the whole featuring works by Robert Rauschenberg, Man Ray, and David Hockney, among others; and a cinema that is screening a documentary about controversial director Roman Polanski as well as 15 of Polanski's own films and six movies by directors who have influenced him.