VDW Chapter 7.2: two hotels, one competition, our exclusive interview


VDW Chapter 7.2: two hotels, one competition, our exclusive interview

We are getting closer to the end of our first dossier on Venice Design Week, VDW, and this time we have the opportunity to show the two hotels that host the jewel competition, also thanks to an exclusive interview.

Discover hotel Ca’ Pisani and hotel Saturnia & International, through the voice of the owner, Marianna Serandrei.

VDW Chapter 7.2: two amazing hotels, one competition, our exclusive interview
The Serandrei family owner of the two hotels: Ca’ Pisani and Saturnia & International

We are getting closer to the end of our dossier on Venice Design Week, in few days the 12th edition takes place and we will be there to cover some of their events. Before the beginning of the new festival, which will be on Friday the 08th of October, we had the opportunity to interview Marianna Serandrei, the owner of the hotels that every year host the International Jewelry Competition, one of the main events of the Venice Design Week. Feel free to explore the table of content, or keep on scrolling and enjoy our article.

Table of content

 

A little bit of context

If you are following our dossier since the beginning, you might remember the International Jewelry Competition that we introduced in our sixth chapter, last May. If you missed that article, here is the link:

Venice Design Week Chapter 6: discover the Jewelry Selection International Competition

In 2020, despite the restrictions due to the pandemic, both the exhibition and the awards ceremony were held close to Piazza San Marco, in the historical hall of the hotel Saturnia & International.

The piano nobile of the hotel Saturnia
The hall of the hotel Saturnia where the exhibition and ceremony for the 2020th Jewels Competition were held.

The 30th of September the exhibition of the finalists for the 2021 Jewelry Competition: dazzle me! opened offcially, and it is hosted at the hotel Ca’ Pisani.

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The exhibition of the 2021 finalists at the hotel Ca’ Pisani

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Marianna Serandrei is the owner of both hotels, and thanks to Venice Design Week, we could get an exclusive interview with her, to learn more about the collaboration with the design festival, and the particularity of these hotels.

Meeting Marianna Serandrei part 1: the connection with VDW

Marianna Serandrei greeted us as polite as cheerful as we expected her to be: her reputation is indeed well deserved.

Good afternoon Marianna, and thanks for meeting us. We would like to start our interview asking you about your collaboration with Venice Design Week. How long has it been going on?

Hello and thanks to you. This collaboration started probably 6 or 7 years ago. I met Lisa Balasso [Venice Design Week’s art director – ed] through a common friend, and we connected immediately. How can you not like Lisa? So I can say it started with meeting the art director and connecting on a personal level. Afterwards it was Venice Design Week that contacted us, through Lisa of course, and we started our collaboration.

The real point of connection is that we are both fond of art and we have a common purpose to promote young talents.

And is this collaboration solely about the International Jewelry Competition?

Lately yes, I’d say what we do for Venice Design Week, is hosting the finalists exhibition and awards ceremony. But a couple of years we got involved, and had a light installation exhibition at the Saturnia & Interantional too, that was part of Venice Design Week.

You said you are very fond of art, would you like to tell us more about it? And what is the strongest connection with Venice Design Week on this matter?

Sure, originally, I wanted to teach oriental art, and after my master degree, I was planning a phd in Japanese archeology, that I had to abandon eventually, but the love for art never left, and it is shared even with our hotels’ customers, to the point that in one of our hotels, we had a happy hour where we shared art-themed curiosities. It was a way for many of them to build new friendships. My passion for art mixes with history and archeology, but to make a long story short, what connects VDW and I, is the passion for jewels and glass.

Meeting Marianna Serandrei part 2: The Saturnia & International Hotel

And in fact, in 2020 the exhibition and the award ceremony for the International Jewelry Competition happened inside the beautiful hall of the Saturnia & International Hotel, a 4 stars superior hotel with a long tradition. Let’s ask Marianna about this hotel in particular.

Thanks for sharing a bit of your private experience with us! I would like to ask you about the Saturnia & International Hotel, and particularly, why this name?

The hotel was founded in 1908, by Ugo Serandrei and his wife Zoe Lustig, they opened a boarding house of eight rooms near San Marco, and called it “Internazionale”, International. WWI happened shortly after, and in 1920, Ugo returned to Venice to expand the hotel, adding some improvements. It was in that moment that the “Saturnia” name was combined to the existing International.

After WWII, the hotel was occupied by American troops, and Ugo’s son, Renzo was the new owner. It was thanks to him that the hotel flourished and became a four star hotel, gaining a name for hosting intellectuals and artists. Jean Paul Sartre and Simone De Beauvoir were regular guests, back then.

In the mid seventies, it’s another Ugo, Renzo’s son, who leads the hotel, and who is responsible for the creation of the current hotel, so to say. That was my father, and today it’s not just me, but my siblings too, Zoe, Kim, Gianni and Gianni’s daughter Beatrice, who manage this hotel and the Ca’ Pisani. So: the 4th and 5th generation of my family.

We were left a hotel that was a welcoming house, aiming to harmonise confort and modernity, and this is how we still lead the Saturnia & International today: as a home. Venice has always been a welcoming place for travellers, it’s an old tradition, I think it’s in our DNA, to treat guests as family.

Can you tell us more about the hotel as a structure?

Of course. The building is a patrician palace, dated back to the fourteenth century, and it still holds both the structure and part of the original furnishing. You will see a good melting pot of art deco, Murano glasses, and ancient marbles.

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It’s a hotel with a capacity of 88 rooms, with a style the goes from traditional Venetian too modern. All rooms are different from each other, soundproofed, with wi-fi, air conditioning, and tvs, of course. It is located in a very blessed part of the city, only 250 meters from Piazza San Marco, on a very elegant street.

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It is a modern hotel in a traditionally Venetian scenario, with a gym & Spa on the ground floor for our guests, Turkish bath area and pool created with precious mosaics made of glass, silver leaf tiles and iridescent reflections.

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Can you tell us more about the Caravella Restaurant and Caravellino bar?

Sure. We need to go back in time: the Saturnia hotel had a legendary bar, Ciro’s bar. That’s where Sartre was a returning customer. In 1963 the Caravella Restaurant was founded where Ciro’s bar was originally located. It is inspired by the theme of Columbus’ ships.  There’s a main room with lighting niches that reminds portholes of a boat, objects with motives of sailing, and an internal room in classic Venetian style, with large chandeliers, inlaid wooden countertops, and a fireplace. The Caravella Restaurant serves Venetian traditional food, and largely specialties of Veneto.

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Caravellino bar is complementary to the restaurant, and a meeting place for both our guests and external customers.

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What is the unexpected element of this hotel that should not be overlooked?

Our terrace, absolutely. It’s a delightful and magnificent location overlooking the rooftops of Venice, with its own gazebo and comfortable chaise longues. It’s an incredible place to relax and enjoy Venetian sunsets from a unique point of view.

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Who’s the typical guest at Saturnia & International?

Generally people who want to be close to the San Marco square, we have welcomed travellers coming in groups, thanks to the fact that we have a fairly high number of rooms. It’s a very comfortable hotel for people who want to enjoy Venice and be close to elegant shops too. It’s a very international hotel, as the name says, and offers a lot of comforts, so I would say it is for the typical traveller and also a good choice for your fist visit in Venice.

Meeting Marianna Serandrei part 3: The Hotel Ca’ Pisani

Family Serandrei owns another hotel, where this year the International Jewelry Competition’s finalists exhibition is happening as we write. We continue our interview with Marianna to focus on this hotel, also a four star Superior hotel.

Can you tell us more about the other hotel, the Ca’ Pisani?

We bought the Ca’ Pisani in 1998, and it is the first design hotel in Venice. Mind that it has to be written Ca’ Pisani and no other way. We change location and style, the Ca’ Pisani is in fact in the Dorsoduro district, near the Accademia Galleries and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. Here we have to make an aesthetic difference between inside and outside.

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The exteriors, the facade, is still the one of a fourteenth century palace, Palazzo Pisani Molfetta is our home, and the remains of the exteriors are unchanged.

The interiors and the furnishing are modern and Italian style liberty.

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The hotel was inaugurated in 2000, it has 29 rooms designed in warm tones with original furniture from the 30’s and 4o’s. Both hotels have suites, of course, and the Ca’ Pisani has three original bedrooms with exposed beams in the attic.

Tell us something particular about this hotel. What is there to know about the Ca’ Pisani?

As you know I am very fond of art, so one of the main characteristics of this hotel, is that we have art exhibitions, and guests can buy the works they see. So we have temporary exhibitions, but we also have a collection of art we are particularly proud of. We have paintings in tempera by Fortunato Depero.

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One of the most significant figures of the 20th century, Fortunato Depero, was able to propose an innovative vision of art, and he seems perfectly in style with the allure of the Ca’ Pisani.

Who is the typical customer here?

The hotel is located near the Accademia Bridge and close to main attractions, and attracts mainly architects, gallerists, people who are fond of art, I’d say people who focus on this cultural side of Venice. Well informed guests, with a good knowledge of the city, who stay for longer periods of time, self-confident professionals are typical attributes of our returning guests.

I think Ca’ Pisani is a flagship for my family, there is a huge attention to details, and it’s not unusual that guests become family friends. It is smaller, with 29 rooms, and we manage to create a personal relationship with many guests. It happens of course with the Saturnia & International too, but because of the cut that this hotel has taken, guests tend to be very curious and interact gladly with us.

What about the La Rivista Restaurant?

Oh yes, what about it? It is the hotel’s restaurant, and it is open to external guests too. The name of the restaurant is inspired by the 1925 floral motif of an original tempera by Fortunato Depero, which is exhibited in the room. Dark wood furniture and 40ies style, plus multiple references to futurism. It has 40 seats inside and a dehor, when weather permits.

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La Rivista serves traditional Venetian cuisine and a selection of Italian wines.

Any terrace to enjoy Venice from the rooftop here?

Of course! The hotel Ca’ Pisani is considered one of the most interesting addresses in Dorsoduro, how can we leave you with no terrace? The Altana rooftop terrace is also a perfect location for a romantic experience.

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Meeting Marianna Serandrei part 4: not only Venice Design Week

The Serandrei family is famous not only for being in the hotel business now at its 5th generation, and the collaborations include not only Venice Design Week, but also another prestigious Venetian event: The Venice Film Festival.

This would be our last question for this interview, and I thank you kindly for your politeness: how is your family connected to the Venice Film Festival?

A cousin of my maternal grandfather was a renowed technical editor, Mario Serandrei. We patronise the International Critics Week Technical Editing Award, which is dedicated to him and assigned every autumn as part of the Venice Film Festival.

The Mario Serandrei – Hotel Saturnia Award for Best Technical Contribution, this is the correct name of the award, is sponsored by the Saturnia and conferred by a jury of experts*

What incredible stories you had for our readers! Thank you again for giving us your time to share your stories!

Thank you and your readers for the interest in our projects and family business. Hope to meet you all in Venice, in one of our hotels!

*Notes:

In 2021 the jury for the Mario Sernadrei’s award was composed by Massimo Causo, Adriano De Grandis, and Silvana Silvestri.

Eles Transportan a Morte (They Carry Death) by Samuel M. Delgado and Helena Girón (Spain, Colombia, 2021) won the Mario Serandrei Award as part of the 36th International Critics’ Week. This is the jury’s motivation:

for the ability to elaborate an immersive sound dimension, in which the tension between figures and environments is amplified and [in which it] deeply dialogues with the visual research of the authors. A score of sounds, noises and images, which feeds a story of mysteries, life and death, from the dimension of myth to the existential drift of the characters

Useful links

If you missed some of our former articles on our dossier on Venice Design Week, here are all the links

  1. Venice Design Week Chapter 1 meet Venice Design Week
  2. Venice Design Week Chapter 2 the tradition of Murano Glasses
  3. Venice Design Week Chapter 3 the Light Art and Color Competition
  4. Venice Design Week Chapter 4 meet Next Future Transportation
  5. Venice Design Week Chapter 5.1 meet Pieces of Venice
  6. Venice Design Week Chapter 5.2 meet Feelin’ Venice
  7. Venice Design Week Chapter 6 the International Jewel Competition
  8. Venice Design Week Chapter 7.1: the outstanding hotel Heureka
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