Turin or Torino, both correct,

…it just depends on who you ask.

Artist Patrycja Holuk takes us on a (for now) virtual trip to her adopted home city and an insight into why it’s such an inspiration to students of design.


white carousel by valeria berruti

The Carousel in the Reggia di Venaria


Turin became my new home when I was 14, my family moved from Kalisz in Poland to Italy and the vast difference in cultures was striking.
Living a ‘good life’ bella vita, is a very real concept here in Italy, a celebration of everything that is beautiful in the every day; food, company, music are enjoyed within this framework. To understand the heart and soul of the country one needs to grasp the level of respect afforded to history, and through that to design and research. Italians are constantly on the verge of discovering something historic or thinking about something new that will have a future impact.

They call Turin a  piccola Parigi and I absolutely agree. The French influence is clearly evident. There are wide streets with tall trees, the River Po and great piazzas with grand palazzos at every corner, but, let’s be clear, the similarities end there. The atmosphere in Turin is much more secluded, almost private. You have to earn it., peel away the layers to discover it, a bit like a pomegranate.


gold symbol of the city triangles figure in the history of turin


I studied graphic and virtual design at the Politecnico di Torino after graduating from Giuseppi and Quintino Art School in Biella, and actually won a graphic design competition.  However, Politecnico wasn’t a perfect fit so I left to join my family’s business as a pastry chef. However art and the need to make art is something that is not like a tap that one can turn on and off, and it was clear that any diversions were simply that, diversions.

For a student of graphic design, the ‘triangles’ add another dimension to the city’s mystic. There are those that believe that the city lies at the vertex of black and white triangles,  the white representing white magic linking Turin, Lyon and Prague and the black triangle denoting black magic linking Turin, London and San Francisco. There are even tours that explore the mystical, alchemical aspect of the city’s character

What to see 

Turin is spectacular, with many architectural highlights, both historically and aesthetically, the must-sees include Reggia di Venaria, a marvellous XVII century palace surrounded by nature, with a beautiful ballroom and temporary art installation by Valeria Berruti of a carousel.

Palazzina di Caccia di Stupinigi, Villa della Regina the Museo Nazionale del Cinema which is Turin’s National Museum of Cinema located in the Mole Antonelliana Tower – there’s an obligatory lift ride to the top.


dome of Duomo di Torino

Duomo di Torino, Chapel of the Holy Shroud


Galleria Subalpina


A more recent edition is the architecturally significant Palazzo degli Affari designed by the genius architect and designer Carlo Mollino. His home, Museo Casa Mollino has now been transformed into a museum which inspired me to create Hint.


home of designer carlo mollino
home of designer carlo mollino

Museo Casa Mollino


Oh… and we can’t forget Castello di Rivoli, a 10th Century castle, now the home of the Museo d’Arte Contemporanea. Talking about art… two insider  recommendations, Galleria Franco Noero and Fondazione Merz.


The Fiat Building, Lingotto – a category all of its own

The ‘ribs’ of the building, are like the skeleton of a dragon and if you’re curious like me, you just have to understand the history. The building is a constant source of discovery, really. I didn’t know there’s a pinacotheca inside (with Matisse, Modigliani and Renoir paintings!) until very recently. And now there is another transformation: the famed Italian Job roof track is being reinvented as gardens. This is what I love about cities: constant evolution responding to the needs of the people.


Lingotto former fiat factory


extention to centro luigi pecci

Prato Centre of Centemporary Art Luigi Pecci

A trip out of town 

Prato, a commuter’s trip from Turin is home to the Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci, Italy’s first museum dedicated solely to Contemporary Art. Designed by Italo Gamberini and extended by Maurice Nio in 2016

Where to eat 

To live in Italy is to eat well, actually, it’s virtually impossible to eat badly in Turin and I’m definitely a foodie. Imagine a piece of art that you can smell and taste that ends up inside you. It’s almost a spiritual experience. I had the good fortune to meet some Michelin starred chefs and I could’ve listened to them for hours talking about food. This is actually one of my recent obsessions: ancient recipes, the evolution of cooking as we understand it today. Bagna Cauda (only for the brave), agnolotti, gianduiotti, baci di dama bônèt…You have to try them all.

A mandatory for any visitor to Turin is to stop by Caffè Al Bicerin, a Turin institution since its opening in 1763. But sometimes when it’s just about grabbing a coffee, or lingering over an aperitivo then my favourite places are Barneys, a bar located inside the 18th Century Palazzo Graneri della Roccia (very Turin – the old and the new side by side) or for a cosier atmosphere head to 16 Pincopallo, Bar Beatrice or Magazzini Oz.  Another spot is Snodo, which started life as a terminal to repair trains, its a place with a strong industrial esthetic which is now a cafe and events space.


in a golden light turin castle

Brutalist architecture in Turin

My work in progress

I am developing Hint …. it’s a work which will continue to evolve, enabling me to combine my love of spaces, aesthetics, photography and film. I take inspirations from Italian photographer Davide Sorrenti, whose work transmitted a sense of nostalgia tinged with sadness, Fan Ho who creates visual poetry and the work of Vivian Maier and Elliot Erwitt who found irony in everyday life. Glueing this all together is my knowledge of interior design (I trained in Milan) and a love of taking pictures of people, still life, and animals. What I look for in the perfect shot is a story, a reference, an interesting angle, reflections, a shadow that hits the right place. Key, for me, to quote Sorrenti, is to ‘show the object in its best, possible light’
Check out Patrycjah’s work:  https://patrycjaholuk.myportfolio.com/

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