In search of style and design

 WORDS: Heidi Finestone

BMW South Africa’s Eurostyle tour to Munich, Lake Como and Milan gave VISI’s Heidi Finestone the chance to indulge in some of her great passions – architecture, design, fashion, food, vintage cars and… shopping.


The capital of Bavaria features an intriguing combination of baroque, neoclassical and modern architecture. While architectural treasures were destroyed or damaged in WWII, many have been carefully restored in their original style.

Today, strict height limitations have limited the construction of skyscrapers, which is why most high-rise buildings are found at the northern edge of the city where you’ll also find the BMW headquarters beside the Olympic Park.

BMW WELT Don’t miss this flagship delivery centre configured by Prof. Wolf D. Prix, the legendary Vienna-based Coop Himmelb(l)au architect, who visualised a floating cloud as his inspiration for the design of the roof of the double-twisted cone steel and glass matrix. If you aren’t here to collect your new BMW, simply linger and enjoy auditory nirvana at one of the exclusive jazz or classical music concerts on offer.
BRENNER This stylish bar-cum-restaurant can be found in the new Maximilianhöfe. Munich’s elite and wannabe-elite order calamari, pasta and oversized fillets prepared at open cooking stations under the watchful eye of Rüdiger Gietl.
CAFÉ PLATZHIRSCH A new development in Munich’s café culture is the trend of converting grannies’ tea shops into the latest boho bars. At Café Platzhirsch, the only thing that’s really changed is the addition of a record deck playing the latest tunes.
SÜDTIROLER STUBEN This restaurant found in the heart of Munich’s Old Town is run by one of the city’s most well-known chefs, Alfons Schuhbeck, who will take you to gastronomic heaven with signature dishes such as the truffle-infused linguini starter with Parmesan and truffle froth.
UNÜTZER If your designer wallet is still full of euros after lunch, head around the corner to the ultimate shoe and accessories destination. Pumps, stilettoes, sandals, clutches, hold-alls – you’ll find them all here in an array of fashionable hues. Made in Venice, Unützer’s exquisite footwear is also sold worldwide.

Lake Como

Only half an hour’s drive from Milan, Lake Como in Lombardy is an oasis where Mediterranean foliage and snow-capped alpine peaks contrast to form breathtaking scenery. One of the best vantage points for this incredible view is from Piazza Cavour, on the banks of the Lake in the town of Como. Lake Como is also famous for its exquisite villas featuring luxurious interiors and lush gardens.

THE GRAND HOTEL VILLA D’EST & VILLA ERBA created a magical setting for the annual Concorso d’Eleganza under the patronage of BMW. Here, the rich and famous gathered to admire some of the finest vintage cars and the most flamboyant concept cars. On display were more than 50 of the world’s best vintage car selections from 1912 to 1976, and proud owners dressed up according to the unforgettable eras of their wheels. Occasionally, an engine was even revved to flaunt the power of the vehicle and presumably show off the delight of the driver.

• The evening culminated in the Exclusive European launch of the ROLLS ROYCE PHANTOM COUPÉ. Ian Cameron, Director of Design for Rolls Royce, explained that, with this model, the intention was “to emphasise the performance potential of the 6.75-litre V12 engine and the effortless experience that it delivers.”

• The following day, in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the BMW M1, three models were displayed at Villa Erba: The original sports car designed by celebrated Italian automobile designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, the Art Car M1 painted by Andy Warhol and the new M1-Hommage Concept car. It goes without saying that, for their own reasons, each of these vehicles makes time stand still.


We arrived at the world’s centre of chic in the latest luxurious BMW 7 series to discover that Milan is undergoing a significant architectural and urban design renaissance, examples of which are the Teatro Alla Scala, the City Life Project and the European Library. Architects such as Zaha Hadid, Renzo Piano, Norman Foster, Massimiliano Fuksas and Daniel Libeskind are involved with this urban rebirth that will give Milan a new skyline.

10 CORSO COMO This is a true art, fashion and design haven founded in 1991 by Carla Sozzani, a gallerist and former journalist for Italian Vogue. Situated close to the Garibaldi Station, it now also boasts an upmarket bed-and-breakfast furnished by Marc Newson and Jean Prouvé. You will be captivated by the large Fornasetti collection at Corso Como and further intrigued by the work of Danish artist, Tal R, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Arne Jacobsen Egg chair.

SERRALUNGA For the past 180 years Serralunga, situated at Via Osti 3, has produced state-of-the-art objects with strong emotional appeal for indoors and outdoors. The oversized Holly All Vase was designed for Serralunga’s latest collection by Phillippe Starck and has a multi-functional use as seat or sculpture. Many celebrated designers including Ross Lovegrove, Karim Rashid and Ron Arad have designed for Serralunga. Products available in South Africa from The Modern Garden Company,,

TOWN HOUSE GALLERIA Alessandro Rosso’s slick seven-star hotel inside the historic Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle 11 epitomises exclusivity and luxury, for each guest’s whims are catered to by a personal butler. The Deluxe Rooms, Suites and Master Suites are in the elegant style of architect Ettore Mocchetti. Antiques and precious decorations adorn the interiors of key areas, while the room furnishings are modern and all imaginable high-tech gadgets are available for business people to keep abreast of their affairs. (The hotel even supplies you with personalised printed business cards.)

LA TRIENNALE DI MILANO DESIGN MUSEUM For a true Italian design indulgence, visit this museum, which opened its doors to the public in 2007 as Italy’s first museum dedicated entirely to design. I was lucky enough to see the first exhibition, Collezione Permanente, which was supported by a film Blow your Trumpet! – 2 000 Years of Italian Design. Here you will find the story of Olivetti, Vespa, and countless other famous icons of design.

PRADA The original Prada store was opened in 1913 by Mario Prada in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele 11, one of the world’s first shopping centres. Designed by architect Giuseppe Mengoni in the mid-19th century, this arcade was innovative for its time and has remained hugely influential over the years. The Prada, Miu Miu, Church and Car Shoe ranges are distributed in 78 countries and, in the process of “owning” the shoes, travel articles, handbags, sunglasses and frocks on display, I was mesmerised by the exquisite Belgian marble floor, mahogany and brass furniture and huge murals.