When Lionel, André, Jérôme and Lena laid their hats, at Villa Lena, a few kilometers away from Pisa in Italy, they did so with an idea for a very different kind of hotel. A case, if you will, of "Nineteenth-century Tuscan lady, maybe a bit rough around the edges but still full of charm, seeks the love and attention of creative minds for an inside-out, top to tail makeover.
Protected from the outside world, Villa Lena is nestled into the Tuscan countryside, at the end of a long and winding drive that twists through dense vegetation. The Villa is not just a dream vacation destination for anyone in search of laidback and thoughtful barefoot luxury, it's also an inspiring residence for multidisciplinary artists. Set in 500 hectares of forest, olive groves and vineyards, the outbuildings and six apartments - the villa itself will only be open to the public in 2014 - have been gradually renovated by interior designer Clarisse Demory, who kept in mind the kind of holiday taken by her coterie of cosmopolitan friends; models, photographers, designers and artists. All year round, the creative talents of today and tomorrow are invited to take up residencies to work at their discipline, be it painting, sculpture, music or writing.
The atmosphere is light and joyful, comfort is essential. The pared-down decor invites repose, tastefully combining pieces found on-site with vintage furniture and other objects sourced in the region, mixing the simplicity of a holiday home with polished Italian chic. As for the rest, fun and togetherness are watchwords for the swimming pool and games room, as well as screenings and improvised concerts the space welcomes.
Ahead of its full opening in June 2014, Villa Lena welcomed close friends and artists this summer in a pop-up version of its full self to-be. photo Coke Bartrina