At home with Alchemyst owner Giorgio Bonelli
Giorgio Bonelli lives in an enviable flat in an enviable neighborhood. As owner of the Alchemyst, he lives in a flat off the courtyard of his hotel in the heart of Mala strana. The property consists of 4 buildings, and contains the hotel, restaurant and residences in the back. He has left his personal style all over the hotel as well as in his home, and graciously offered to share with us, the importance of style, color and personality when it comes to decorating.
“I like lots of different elements, that hopefully will be beautiful in the end,” says Bonelli. The Italian has lived in Prague since 1989, getting involved in real estate almost from the beginning, buying and refurbishing buildings and apartments. “I have a feeling to put a lot of myself into the projects I do,” he says.
Bonelli has lived in his 200 square meter flat for about 2 ½ years. “This apartment is in action every day,” Bonelli laughs. He’s currently re-doing the residences at the Alchemyst, and if one of the apartments needs something, sometimes it comes from his flat. He recently “donated” his bed and one of his couches to the cause.
The first thing you notice about his flat is the natural light streaming through and all the plants enjoying it. Tall, narrow windows line all the walls and are casually decorated with long curtains of royal red, yellow and gold, with matching valances. This sets the stage for the rest of the color scheme, which is warm and comforting.
“I like warm colors; yellow, not lemon, warmer with orange tones,” he says. “Warm reds, with lots of yellow, brown and I like contrast, black and white.” All the walls are painted a soft yellow, and the wooden floors are covered with colorful rugs, heavy on the reds and yellows. The furniture too fits in nicely, in size, color and style.
“The furniture has come from both the Czech Republic and Italy, and some I have designed myself,” he says. The coffee table for example is one of his personal designs. A simple crystal top resting on Renaissance-styled pillars he designed in conjunction with a local sculptor.
Chandeliers hang in every room, and wall scones add a certain charm to the long dining room. A guest room and bathroom complete the downstairs and a narrow staircase leads to two more bedrooms and bathrooms on the second floor. Both rooms are cozy, huddled under the eaves with wooden beams and dormer windows.
Bonelli loves art, especially pieces from around the time of Rudolf II. “I like his style, his way” Bonelli exclaims. “He was crazy, but that’s okay.” Bonelli’s style leans towards Baroque, but with a little Gothic and some Renaissance tossed in.
“I don’t consider myself a skilled collector of paintings and other pieces of art,” he says. “But I like to collect items, and the idea of putting them together, as long as it makes sense.” He displays his paintings in unique but surprisingly suitable locations; in the grill of his fireplace, as well as on the floor, leaning against the stairway railing and has some large original Czech Baroque statues. “It’s up to you if the results make sense,” he adds.
Bonelli advocates this personal way of decorating and collects items from all over the world for his apartment and hotel. “I travel a lot and I’m pretty old and I’ve got a lot of experiences,” he admits. “Whatever I do reflects this. Most of the inspiration comes from your experiences.”
Bonelli also believes nothing has to stay the same. “Inspiration comes from the items themselves,” he says. “I get ideas from things I see, whatever is interesting and around. Like a stone fountain I saw in Spain. I think we can transform it into a table or a bar.”
That philosophy goes for how things are made and how you put them to use. “It’s easier to copy than to invent, but you don’t want to copy anything,” he says. “Do something similar, do it in wood instead of stone.”
When it comes to designing your space, Bonelli has some hints. “Your apartment needs soul and feeling,” he advises. “Even expensive pieces can look flat and boring if there is no feeling.” Bonelli waits until a space is finished before decorating, saying he doesn’t have any preconceived ideas or makes pieces in advance. “I have no plan, no order, no specific idea; looking for items is fun!” he says.
And Bonelli’s final decorating tips? “The concept is to have no concept at all,” he says. “If it fits, it’s fine.”