After the project for the UNA Hotel in Florence, Novembre Studio has continued its work in the Tuscan city to create a new restaurant in the courtyard of Palazzo Strozzi. The flamboyant designer Fabio Novembre, helming the project, has set the ambitious goal of entering a historical context of peerless fame and beauty – Palazzo Strozzi is one of the finest specimens of Florentine Renaissance architecture, a perfect image of the ideal lordly residence – without suppressing his own stylistic identity.
The historic palace that was built by Filippo Strozzi towards the end of the 1400s stands out for its cubical form on three levels, around a central courtyard that becomes the location of the new restaurant, known as Strozzi Bistrò. Outside, the façade features a rusticated surface, attenuated towards the top, suggesting the archaic image of a fortress. The building remained the property of the Strozzi family until 1937, when it was acquired by the Istituto Nazionale delle Assicurazioni; after extensive restoration, from 1938 to 1940, it was adapted as an exhibition space.
Today, owned by the state and utilized by the municipality of Florence, the palace is a dynamic cultural center on an international level, with a fine program of exhibitions and activities. To respect the extraordinary history of the site, Novembre Studio has designed Strozzi Bistrò to represent the essence of a place of belonging, based on centuries of background now in constant dialogue with contemporary art.
The symmetrical arrangement of the original cross vaults has been emphasized with geometric flooring, in matching tones of gray to divide the space into six sectors; the same approach has been taken to the existing capitals on the walls, which have been incorporated with new custom lighting, extending to the floor with newly designed pilaster strips. The space is thus transformed into a large spyglass that frames the impressive mirrored bottle racks, reprising the form of the original door. The bar counter and the kitchen space have been covered in ochre cowhide, with a brick motif to echo the ashlar work of the external façade.
For the walls, Fabio Novembre has designed a covering in tones of blue, the chromatic emblem of the museum, decorated with three crescent moons, the heraldic symbols of the Strozzi family. The project is completed by an outdoor dining area facing the courtyard, often used for contemporary art installations by the likes of Anish Kapoor and Jeff Koons.
Photo © Pasquale Formisano