wonderful wes

when in milan last week i couldn’t resist taking a slight detour off the official salone route and making a pilgrimage to the wonder that is bar luce, designed by one of my favourite cinematic auteurs: wes anderson.

located within the fondazione prada at largo isarco (itself a spectacular piece of architecture and space that definitely demands a visit next time i’m in town), the interior décor is quite simply stunning, akin to stepping onto the glossy set of a movie.

imagine being able to immerse yourself in the wonderful world of the grand budapest hotel at the height of concierge gustave h’s heyday, or fancying yourself as margot tenenbaum and ordering a butterscotch sundae, plotting the best way to get yourself locked in overnight. all of this is possible within the walls of bar luce…

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inside, the spectacular arched ceiling recreates the vaulted glass roof of the galleria vittorio emanuele, one of milan’s most revered arcades. the sugared candy colour palette is reminiscent of the classic italian aesthetics from the 1950s and 60s, accentuated by the pink terrazzo flooring flecked with red, grey and white, along with the  veneered wood wall panels that frame the brilliant turquoise counter fronts perfectly.

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“while i do think it would make a pretty good movie set, 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.”

i certainly share his sentiment and could happily have whiled away many an hour in the bar working on my creative endeavours – aperol spritz in hand, natch.

anderson’s work has always been characterised by his strong visual style, incorporating a high degree of formalism emphasising colour, line, shape and texture. every cinematic shot is carefully staged so that the action occurs in every segment and, more often than not, what happens on the periphery is just as important to the narrative than the action in the centre of frame.

the same holds true at bar luce, and not just in the exquisite details of the decor. sitting in my sherbet-colour formica single-seater, i took the time to sit back and survey my surroundings, taking in not just the beauty of the setting, but also all the social interactions occurring within its walls. from couples sharing both seats and gelato cones, to tourists busy snapping away on their iphones, the place was a hive of social activity.

i had swooned over the retro-chic of the steve zissou and castello cavalcanti-themed pinball machines when i entered the bar, but they took on a whole new level of fascination for me as i watched two smarted-dressed italian gentlemen huddled deep in conversation over them, trying to suss out the game. they were just so adorable!!

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even the staircase down to the washrooms was totally en-point..

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it’s definitely a spot i’ll take time to revel in further next time i’m in town, taking up station at a booth for a day and starting to pen that long-awaited novel… (well, a girl can dream!)

bar luce @ fondazione prada, largo isarco 2, 20139 milano


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  1. Hannah

    20 April

    this is SO cool!!!!! I love Wes Anderson, Moonrise Kingdom is one of my favs. This cafe looks like a dream, details everywhere. x

    • kate

      20 April

      Such a dream Hannah – so much to take in! oh, and Moonrise Kingdom is one of my faves too :)

  2. Molly

    20 April

    I’m swooning! Looks amazing, and love your write up and photos, especially of the two men at the pinball machine. Just lovely.

  3. Sue

    20 April

    I love these shots!! They’d make fab greetings cards

  4. Oh my goodness, this is AMAZING!! How did I not know about this place?! Your shots are fabulous and really capture the magic. Okay, now I need to go and watch The Grand Budapest Hotel again. Wes Anderson is a genius. xxx

  5. Carole

    20 April

    Looks amazing. Really lovely, atmospheric photo’s hun. You do the place justice! x

  6. karen jones

    20 April

    What a beautiful place and such gorgeous photographs. I need to travel more !

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