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Moving the Boundary: an emotionally charged Italian experience.

Updated: Jan 30

I laughed, cried, learned, and felt everything so deeply. Who am I?


 

A designer with aspirations as long as the world is round. My goal is always to combine wellbeing and feeling as tools to create spaces that are whole. Spaces that are regenerative and promote the living while honoring that which has come before us. With that, comes many facets of the industry, research, and the human experience. The experience of Life itself.

 

I was in San Diego when I saw that the next Moving Boundaries program would take place in Venice with a focus on architect Carlo Scarpa. It may be news to you, but Carlo Scarpa is my absolute favorite! I CRIED happy tears when I saw that this beautiful group would honor him. A few design deals, project wrap ups, and many sacrifices later, it was December and I was there, driving the public ferry from Marco Polo Airport to my destination in Dorsoduro (yes, they let me steer the boat).


The Visual Treasure I brought back:

The architectural highlight of my life (so far) is visiting the work of Carlo Scarpa. I was never disappointed nor underwhelmed. We visited Negozio Olivetti showroom San Marco, Fondazione Querini Stampalia with courtyard, one wing of Museo Gypsotheca Antonio Canova, the renovation at Ca' Foscari University of Venice and Tomba Brion (the space that made me fall in love with Scarpa in the first place).

Negozio Olivetti Showroom


Fondazione Querini Stampalia with courtyard



one wing of Museo Gypsotheca Antonio Canova Statues

Museo Gypsotheca Antonio Canova


Ca' Foscari University of Venice




What I learned from Scarpa:

  • Design the door! Forget about buying one. Design it from scratch if you must.

  • Listen to, and learn from your client

  • Work hand in hand with the fabricator for he is the true creator.

  • The foundation can be a gorgeous conduit, especially if it's underwater.

  • Let the water in. It's coming whether you try to stop it or not. Give it a path to follow.

  • You are in control of how people move their bodies through space.

  • Adaptability isn't just a trend, it's life and the client leads the design outcome.

  • God is truly in the details.

  • Teach the next generation to honor local materiality and history.

  • The curvature of the hand is sacred and should be celebrated.

His son Tobias Scarpa, gave a lecture and lovingly answered questions from us as well. We had a pretty special connection by the end of it all. These are memories that I will cherish, of course.


a selfie with Tobias Scarpa
Meeting Tobias Scarpa

Moving Boundaries from my POV:

Jet lag lead the way as I met with fellow colleagues and attended lectures for up to 8 hours a day. The waters of Venice have a way of reflecting both the peace and the chaos of the region. That city beat me up all day. The bridges confused me and brought me back to sanity when I was lost. This place, besides Tijuana, MX, was the easiest for me to get lost in. We would have to unlock the puzzle of getting to the lecture. Then the lectures were so complex in most cases that I would leave for lunch often exhausted with suspended caffeine-free veganism habits. All while the questions piled, then fell over. Venice was filled to the brim with new faces and handshakes. I was shaken by how hard and fast the information from the lectures were pouring in and I will likely associate Venice with my inferiority complex.


What I'll take with me from lectures and discussions:

  • If the circadian rhythm is consistently off, it will ruin your life, not just your sleep.

  • Lots of experiments are done without diversity.

  • Art is everything.

  • As an academic, you can fail at proving anything at all and still be celebrated for it.

  • We still need to bridge the gap between science and practice; hanging out and being human together really helps.

  • Hot take: I feel that Virtual Reality Experiments are not conclusive! (I said what I said).

  • When we're daydreaming is when we are absorbing an environment.

  • Emotion effects perception.


Hedges, maze under sky with strong sunlight
Castello Di Solfagnano, Perugia, Italy

 

The rest of this blog is from the heart.

Read further only if you're ready to experience more photography and some vulnerability. Thank you for coming this far. Peace be with you, loves.


 

To my holistic space holders: I realize that every memory I have of a vacation or an adventure, I always think of the people who were with me. For example, whenever I think of 15 year old Steffi in Europe for the first time, I think of the loneliness of being in a disagreement with my friends. I think of the heartache and the judgement. London is a mean (but also bright green) place! When I think of my roaring 20's in San Miguel de Allende MX, I think of a romantic time with my ex and how blissfully in golden-red love we were. Of course that town is stunningly beautiful in my eyes! As for Italy, it was a mixed bag. My emotions made the memories and echoes in the tune of how I felt in that moment. The spaces take on a ringing, that same chord of a feeling.


Venice for me, is associated with: inferiority complex, attraction of the mind, honoring tradition. bright brick orange, stone, flowing, ambient reflection, black cuttlefish ink and mold. Do with that information what you will.


Murano, a neighboring island, is known for its glass and glass makers. I will associate it with lite romance, peace, and lovely yellow winter sunsets.


Firenze is ripe with frustration. I think I lugged around too much weight on my back and broke a glass water bottle on a wild goose chase. I was hardly impressed until we visited David. He was lovely, and his sculpted figure lifted my spirits for the Anish Kapoor exhibition we visited soon thereafter.


Frienze, & Images from the Anish Kapour exhibition



From there, we went farther south to the very heart of Italy. I will associate Perugia with a warm family embrace. Impeccable service and open arms seemed like the theme for the lecture series at Castello Di Solfagnano. I wept at the lovingly planned services and amenities. Somehow, I found the biggest patch of moss I had ever seen and took a nap there.


Castello Di Solfagnano


This place calmed my nerves so much so that by the time it took to present my research, I did so with great confidence. Mind you, I am not a professional researcher. I am a professional none-the-less. Thus, I created a space for discussion of neurogenesis/neuroactivity in spaces and what effect psychedelics have on that dynamic. The hyperconnectivity of psychedelic ritual and how surrounding space supports functioning of the brain. Mind you, the subject matter is out there and weird, thus, we took the conversation to some great places! It made the experience worth it because we welcomed that conversation as neuroscientists & architects seriously and without judgement. The biggest take away from what I presented was simply putting forth our full intention into spaces so that they do more than we can even imagine.


I stole as many breaths of rural Perugia air as I could before I made my way to Assisi. It was powerful and I could feel the collective prayers that have been woven together for centuries. It left me feeling sanctified and mysterious to even myself. All of the off-white stone tunnels must have gotten to me. Or perhaps it was because I was alone at that point and I was super absorbed in the energies around me.


Assisi, Palermo, and Cefalù


Lastly was Palermo. Sicily is a massively emotional island, as I experienced it. By this time I was accompanied by a best friend and had (likely too much) contact with a more toxic ex. I will remember the intimate details of this city due to emotional outbursts: happy, very sad, fed up, and scared. This place is not for the faint of heart. I have been traveling a bit more these days but this was an entirely new level of tourism for me. The streets were post-apocalyptic. It's people were rough and we could tell that they had to be. Perhaps it was just the grey side of town I was on, but it seemed so far from the softness of the moss in Perugia.


The memories that are entrenched in emotion will outlast everything else over time in my mind. When I zoom out, I tend to associate spaces with only the emotion experienced there. Not the temperature it was outside, not the food I ate (best pizza was in Palermo for those who are curious) nor the money I spent. The company we choose and the feelings we fuel, go on to provide the definition of our memories, together.


Ciao!

-Steffi Holistica


P.s. If you have a project that you want us to create experiences with your loved ones in, write to me and I can help you to hold space for the energy that matters most.

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