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Villa Lena: the perfect holiday retreat for artists

The Villa in Tuscany is not just a dream vacation destination, it's also an inspiring residence for multidisciplinary artists. BARTRINA apt 33 terrace.jpg?1397682653

We first came across this hidden gem, nestled into the Tuscan countryside, through the Instagram account of creative Ana Kraš, girlfriend of musician Devendra Banhart and known for her beautiful lanterns. On the pictures we saw her at work with Julie Ho, half of the duo behind Confetti System, co-creating beautiful wall hangings. It was clear: these two New York city girls were enjoying the good life in Tuscany at Villa Lena and we wished we were there to enjoy it too! BARTRINA apartment 33_MG_7880 copy.jpg?1397682613 BARTRINApalmshadow.jpg?1397682711 BARTRINA apartment 54_MG_8922 copy.jpg?1397682629 BARTRINA apt 31 kitchen.jpg?1397682637 BARTRINA collab Villa LenaxAnna Topuriya 110€.jpg?1397682660


Barefoot luxury

At first we thought of Villa Lena as an artist residency, but now that renovation works are over, the place is more than just that. The 19th century neo-Renaissance house is an inspiring residence for multidisciplinary artists, merging art, design and ecology. Villa Lena is like a home and a laboratory for artists and friends. The new concept in barefoot luxury was created by Lionel, Jérôme and Lena - entrepreneur, musician and art consultant respectively (the walking embodiment of cool on the Paris art scene right now). Hidden away with a gang of friends in a quiet corner of Italy, they launched Villa Lena. Set in 500 hectares of woodland, olive groves and vineyards, filled with extraordinary fauna and wildlife, the restoration of Villa Lena commenced in 2013. BARTRINA Sotsass and superstudio for zanotta in reception_MG_9171 copy.jpg?1397682704 BARTRINA recycled and customized fabrics for decoration_MG_7858 copy.jpg?1397682691 BARTRINA recycled fabrics for hotel interior design_MG_9266 copy.jpg?1397682697


Neo folk style

We had a chat with interior designer Clarisse Demory whose eclectic ’neo folk’ style creates a fresh and uncluttered atmosphere throughout the hotel. BARTRINA apartment 37_MG_7679 copy.jpg?1397682622 BARTRINA Confetti SystemxAna Kras innreception.jpg?1397682676


In terms of decoration, which was the biggest challenge for you at Villa Lena?

It was quite easy and a natural thing to do, although I didn't have that much time to decorate the 13 apartments. I only had three months, and none of the apartments was alike. They each had different measurements. It took me quite some time to find decent second-hand shops selling good small furniture and accessories at cheap prices, but as soon as I found them, things went on really well. I found treasures like the Superstudio table, now used as a reception desk. The difficulty with a hotel is to create a homey feeling with a minimum quantity of objects. After all, housekeepers can't take three hours to clean each apartment. BARTRINA palm.jpg?1397682684


In which way did the Tuscan environment inspire you? 

When I arrived, the hotel was already furnished with a lot of heavy dark varnished furniture that is commonly found in Italian agriturismo, a kind of gloomy 90's neo-rustic interior design. But for each of my projects I love using what is available and optimize it. Ana Kraš and I painted the leaves of a dead plant. Gave a tacky sofa a new look, by removing the upholstery, sanding the wood and tossing in some new hand painted cushions. Old curtains were hand bleached and re-used them to make pillows. BARTRINA apartment 31_MG_8649 copy.jpg?1397682606


Which is your favorite apartment and why? 

I have several favorites, but I'd say number 33 because it has a big private terrace facing the villa  and the incredibly high ceilings add grandeur to the space. The bedroom, the living room and the kitchen all have French windows. And during summer it’s really enjoyable when the wind blows against the white veils. BARTRINA apt 33 private terrace and view on villa.jpg?1397682644 BARTRINA apart 33 kitchen.jpg?1397682598

Thanks to Clarisse, guests can now enjoy accommodation speckled over several residencies, including rooms in converted stables, self-contained apartments, and private houses. All year round, creative talents of today and tomorrow are invited to take up residencies to work at their discipline, be it painting, sculpture, music or writing. Villa Lena looks amazing, doesn’t it? Shall we go?

photography: Coke Bartrina


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