In May of 2015, Wes Anderson’s Bar Luce opened its Milanese doors in the new art and culture complex, Fondazione Prada. The café looks like it’s right out of one of Anderson’s 1960’s inspired movies: color-blocked Formica tables, whimsical wallpaper, a perfectly modish WC, and a major installation feature for the cafe, a Steve Zissou pinball machine.
“The cafe looks like it’s right out of one of Anderson’s 1960’s inspired movies.”
Anderson says that the bar is built for real life. “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. I tried to make it a bar I would want to spend my own non-fictional afternoons in.”
“I tried to make it a bar I would want to spend my own non-fictional afternoons in.”
Bar Luce embodies the environment of a many Milanese cafès. Although his movies can favor symmetry, “There is no ideal angle for this space. It is for real life, and ought to have numerous good spots for eating, drinking, talking, reading, etc.” Anderson commented.
Architectural details from the original building still remain, such as the arched ceiling, which captures the ‘miniature’ version of the vaulted glass roof of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, a symbolic building in Milan. The Galleria is repeated in the cafe with wallpaper, creating a pattern on the top of the bar, added above the wooden wall panelling, recalling the windows and balconies of this famous building.
To further Anderson’s vision he focused on many aspects such as the seating, veneered wood wall panels, and and other details of the era. He chose to use a range of colors the are reminiscent of Italian pop culture from the 50-60s, drawing correlations to Anderson aesthetic in his short film Castello Cavalcanti. Other sources of inspiration are two notable masterpieces of Italian Neorealism.
The bar is accessed from Via Orobia. It has become a hotspot for the public and a regular gathering place for Milan natives.
“It has become a hotspot for the public and a regular gathering place for Milan natives.”
Wes Anderson, who is best known for his films including The Life Aquatic and The Grand Budapest Hotel, was invited by Prada to create the main dining space inside its new arts centre, which occupies a converted distillery in Largo Isarco, southern Milan.
The commission is the latest of several collaborations between Anderson and Prada, which include a series of movies for the launch of the fashion houses’s Candy L’Eau perfume, as well as the short film Castello Cavalcanti.
Named Bar Luce, the space takes references from famous Milanese landmarks and cafes dotted around the city. The pastel-heavy color palette resonates with the aesthetic of Anderson’s films, which are heavily stylised. But while many of the films favor symmetry in their composition, the director said there are no ideal angles from which to appreciate this space.
Other details include a pink terrazzo floor speckled with flashes of red, grey and white, and two rows of spherical pendant lights.
Fondazione Prada opened its doors to the public last month. Rem Koolhaas’ firm OMA renovated seven buildings at the complex, and also designed three new ones – including a cinema camouflaged by mirrors.
Bar Luce is located in a renovated building but can also be accessed directly from Via Orobia, allowing it to open outside of gallery hours.
“The pastel-heavy color palette resonates with the aesthetic of Anderson’s films, which are heavily stylized.”
Youtuber Beatrice Clarke captured the experience of the cafe on video for us: