|Grand Canal from the Rooftop Terrace of T Fondaco dei Tedeschi|
|T Fondaco dei Tedeschi - Photo: DFS|
|Rialto Bridge currently being restored by Renzo Rosso from water entrance of DFS|
|Aerial view Fondaco dei Tedeschi - Photo: Archdaily|
The reconstruction took place behind covered scaffolding, closed to the public. Venetians are always suspicious of change, and braced for the worse.
|Thursday night Gala at T Fondaco dei Tedeschi|
|T Fondaco dei Tedeschi - Photo: Cat Bauer|
1. To make sure that the architecture was consistent with its history.
2. To create something which adds value to Venice and elevates the profile of the city -- to add a dimension so people can stay in Venice longer, and don't need to go to Milan or Rome for shopping.
3. To bring a level of service to the building which that the customers of DFS have come to expect. They created 500 jobs, and had to decide how to fill them -- should they hire people away from other retailers, or train employees from scratch?
|Silva Shehata & Missoni scarves exclusive for the Fondaco|
I spent several hours in the Fondaco dei Tedeschi on Saturday interviewing dozens of employees, and I have never met a group of people who were so excited and grateful for their jobs. It seemed like most nationalities, languages and skin colors were represented, from every continent in the world (maybe not Antarctica:-). Most of the employees I spoke to were from Venice or the Veneto. Even if they had been born in China, Brazil, India, Africa, Southern Italy or beyond, they had either stayed on after attending university here, or had arrived as children with their families.
The employees were professional, enthusiastic and courteous -- and remember, I was talking to them on their very first day on the job. A 25-year-old woman in the shoe department lowered her voice and said, "I want to tell you something. I have never had a job before in my life. We have created a entire world inside the T Fondaco dei Tedeschi, filled with people from all over the globe. I see this not as just a job, but an opportunity for a career."
|Fiori from Venice & Giulia from Jesolo in cosmetics|
Up in cosmetics, a young Venetian woman smiled at me: "But I know you already. You go to my gym!"
Over men's fashions, a young Russian student told me, "But I know you already! From the library at the university."
As I was wafting through the perfume section, another young woman asked me if I wanted to try a scent.
"What is it?"
"The Merchant of Venice."
I paused, then grinned: "I know the owner of your company, Marco Vidal. You are in good hands. He is passionate about his product and about Venice."
|Chinese-French DJ MIMI XU at opening gala T Fondaco dei Tedeschi|
For example, the Ceccato family has been around for four generations. The Venetian clothing brand, Emilio Ceccato, is the official supplier of gondoliers' uniforms, which you can buy yourselves -- that is a real Venetian souvenir. A percentage of each purchase goes directly into supporting the gondoliers of Venice, helping to keep the ancient profession alive. I was at the very first presentation of the official logo a couple years ago, and I was there when the gondoliers got their very first check, which I wrote about here:
|Escalator at T Fondaco dei Tedeschi|
TIP: As soon as you enter the Fondaco, stop at the front desk and ask if you need a ticket to visit the rooftop terrace with a spectacular panoramic view of Venice. Due to space and safety, only a limited number of people are allowed up on the terrace at one time. They are still experimenting with the best way to control the line, so be warned that there could be a wait at the top anywhere from five to thirty minutes, or you might get lucky and score a singular view of Venice.
Once on the top floor, you will enter a contemporary cultural venue and meeting place, which kicked off with "Under Water," a video installation by the Italian artist, Fabrizio Plessi, a familiar face around Venice.
|Ancient well in former medieval courtyard|
OMA, the architectural firm founded by Rem Koolhaas, has created a page on its website filled with a description of the project, articles about the gala opening, images from social media and more, so click over there if you would like more information.
|Cat Bauer on terrace of T Fondaco dei Tedeschi|
Ciao from Venezia,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog