Public and private, large and small, Milan and New York, Venice and the Hamptons, the works of Gaia Nodari, 31, range from one continent to another, distinguished by competence, passion, enthusiasm and innovative visions.
Text by Virginio Briatore
I met Gaia about 8 years ago when I was presenting young designers at the Design Library in Milan as part of the ‘Vitamin D’ project, conceived with Giulio Iacchetti (among others: La Tigre, Susanne Philippson, Alessandra Pasetti, Studio Klass, Paolo Elce, Brian Sironi, Paolo Iannetti, Giorgia Brusemini, etc). After the presentation we went to sit down, in a few, in a brewery nearby and Gaia was always there. She spoke little but was very present and I was intrigued by her tall figure, hair halfway between Patti Smith and a Great Lakes Indian. I tried a couple of years later to introduce myself in the study of the young architects RGA (Giuliano Iamele and Raffaele Azzarelli) where she worked on two significant restaurants: the Ratanà by chef Cesare Battisti and the Erba Brusca by chef Alice Delcourt. Housed in a liberty building, already used as a railway warehouse for the first station in Milan, the Ratanà was the first place to rise in the large complex of Porta Nuova. RGA and Gaia have recovered its industrial vocation through the use of materials such as iron and wood, linked to that tradition. All the Ratanà furnishing elements were made on site, using the space as a real workshop.
I knew Gaia she had gone to New York and we would sometimes talk on FB, where I often saw her in holiday resorts, like the Caribbean, Florida, the Rocky Mountains, and I rejoiced for her good life! Suddenly this winter she came to Milan and we met again at Ratanà with Giuliano and Raffaele. When she showed me on the iPad what she was doing in the States I was speechless. The holiday pictures were actually all construction sites that she followed on behalf of the New York studio. At that point I asked her to tell me the story from where she left off. “I stayed at the RGA for over 4 years, until 2013, then I felt ready to work with my father and I joined the family building company, because I wanted to understand what it means to build or restore a building, how the plants work , how to relate with suppliers and finally how to do business. ” Family company? And what a beautiful company, able to build high-end hotels and restore princely historical buildings. All of a sudden I realize that this girl, who I saw running from morning to night chasing clients for third parties, could easily bask on the laurels of a privileged situation!
So at the age of 27, she became partner of the family company Costruzione Interna where she had the opportunity to work on important sites including the luxury hotels Cipriani in Venice, the Splendido in Portofino and the Caruso in Ravello. She mainly follows the interiors adapting the interventions to the history and identity of the place and so in Portofino the floorings of the rooms were made of olive or Tunisian stone floors tone on tone Thala beige and cream, while the walls were adorned by traditional Ligurian style decorations. For a couple of years, she worked on construction sites and she had plenty of work. However, she missed the chance to put herself to the test in a place where nobody knew her. In 2015 she landed in New York, with only one address in her pocket: that of the Molteni show room. Here smart people saw her portfolio and said “you would be wasted designing kitchens and tables, you have to work in interior design” and give them 5 names of architectural firms where to send the curriculum. A week later she had his first interview and was hired by the architect West Chin, one of the 50 most highly regarded in the metropolis; the next day she rented a studio, enrolled in a specific language course. Gradually entrusting them to follow projects of private residences, in different locations of the United States and the Caribbean, and strong of its Italian experience, with the study of the master of Chinese origin develops the concept and design for the Two Forks restaurant chain (http : //twoforksnyc.com) a new type of fast food that promotes natural and healthy cooking. Her most successful American project, with West Chin, is probably the Japanese restaurant Momi Ramen in the Hamptons. Here the goal was twofold: on the one hand giving new life to an existing building that had little natural light and was badly connected to the outside, and on the other hand to place the tradition of Japanese cuisine in the marine environment of the Hamptons, renowned holiday destination of New Yorkers. Thanks to the opening of large windows, overlooking the beaches of southern Long Island, and the redistribution of partitions, the environment has merged with the exterior and natural light has become an integral part of the space. A composition of chandeliers revives and populates the rooms, drawing emotions of light, colors and shadows. The use of burned wood for boiserie pays homage to Japanese culture and techniques for the treatment of wood, while murals made by local artists show the peninsula of Long Island, of which the Hamptons are part and that from above recalls the shapes of a fish … different but not unlike the map of Venice!