(WIRED) — If you, like us, lusted after the art deco tiling and rose-colored lighting of the Grand Budapest Hotel lobby, or drooled over the yellow Parisian hotel room in Hotel Chevalier, here's some enchanting news: Wes Anderson has designed a bar.
It's called Bar Luce, it's in Milan, and it's like an Anderson film set rendered in real life, where you can sit at a vintage formica table, sip a Campari on the rocks, and pretend you're in 1950's Italy.
This is Anderson's speciality: the director doesn't make movies so much as he conjures fantastical worlds.
The Grand Budapest Hotel, for instance, isn't set in Hungary; it takes place in the state of Zubrowka, a quirky facsimile of 1960's Eastern Europe that Anderson and his team built from vintage artifacts and custom cardboard props.
Lately, he's been applying his storybook design aesthetic to Bar Luce, the adjoining café inside the newly minted Fondazione Prada, the fashion house's new art and culture complex.
The Fondazione's new space is housed in a distillery from the 1910's that architecture studio OMA (Rem Koolhaas's firm) has expanded into a campus of buildings, including several art galleries, a kid's play area, and, of course, Anderson's kitschy bar. The whole shebang opened on May 9.
Anderson—who's collaborated with Prada before on commercials and the short film Castello Cavalcanti, with Jason Schwartzman—says he designed Bar Luce to echo old-school Milanese cafés.
Bar Luce, like any Anderson-made setting, is more of a composite homage to several parts of Milan: it's like the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping mall and an Italian neo-liberal film set all rolled into one.
Part of that aesthetic came with the original architecture, like the arched ceilings that mimic the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.
Other details, like the perfectly centered schoolhouse clock, the retro jukebox, and the pinball machines are distinctly Andersonian. (However, in a weird act of self-promotion, one of the pinball machines is Steve Zissou-themed, and the other is Castello Cavalcanti-themed.)
Anderson specifically name-checks two Italian Neorealism films, 1951's Miracolo a Milano and 1960's Rocco e i Suoi Fratelli as sources of inspiration.
Both movies follow a down-and-out cast of characters in Milan.
What's probably more telling, in terms of influence on Anderson, are how the streetscapes from a movie like Miracolo a Milano informed the set design for the short Castello Cavalcanti. In Castello, sea-foam green formica furniture appear on set, just as they furnish Bar Luce. You can see how each project impacts the next. An interesting tidbit from Matt Zoller Seitz's book, The Grand Budapest Hotel, is that a lot of Anderson's handmade set designs are actually 2-D or small-scale mock-ups.
The getaway train station in the movie, for example, wasn't a working physical train station at all but a flat cardboard creation taped together and assembled on a dolly.
These illusions work for Anderson's style of filming, which often involves a dead-on symmetrical shot or a simple left-to-right camera pan.
Unlike the filmmaker's prop-filled sets, Bar Luce is full-scale and three-dimensional, brought to life by drinking, lounging, real people, some of whom will no doubt write screenplays on their laptops: "I think it would be an even better place to write a movie," Anderson says.
"I tried to make it a bar I would want to spend my own non-fictional afternoons in."
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