Reproduction of Venetian-style furniture in the Otaru museum

Details of the Venetian-style furniture created by the Sommacal furniture factory for the Otaru Museum in Japan.


The
Corner of "Think tank" in Otaru

The “Think tank” was that part of the house of various sizes: the size of the room was in proportion to the Lord's requirements. It could be small if it was used simply as a place of meditation or very big if, in addition to meditation, there was the need to use it as a workshop of ideas..

Unlike Wunderkammera, the “Think tank” were often devoid of special items and collections just to make sure that those who used it could not run into unnecessary distractions and frivolous. The furnishing complements had to create harmony in the environment: it always needed to reflect the wealth of the homeowner.


The Wunderkammer
The Wunderkammer

Since old times mankind has always tried to answer some questions about the origin of the Man, the world and of the universe. As even religion was not able to answer these fundamental questions, man began to rely on science. Consequently, schools and cultural centres where knowledge was the fruit of rational investigations began to flourish.

 

The first collections were gathered in Northern Europe where the owner was able to instil into the visitors a sensation of wonder and astonishment thanks to the "Wunderkammer" (the wonder-room). This chamber is considered the evolution of the small Renaissance study, which it was a place of study and meditation for the noblest families. The words that best describes the Wunderkammer are "naturalia et mirabilia" (from the Latin, natural and wonders). Indeed it was necessary to instil wonder and astonishment through the study of the nature. Therefore every object natural or artistic, which could be considered an innovation, was welcome inside the Wunderkammer.

The first collectors where mostly astrologists, mathematician and men of science, thus it was most likely to find instruments of scientific investigation inside these rooms. Also there where other objects that did not have any scientific use but put there only because of their preciousness and uniqueness. These objects, for example crystals and corals, used to show and highlight the social status of the collectors.

   

The access to the Wunderkammer was not given to anybody, in order to do so it was necessary the permission directly from the collector. This exclusive access would eventually cause two different sensations to the visitors. The first one was curiosity, given that as said before not anybody could access to it, and the second one was more a personal evaluation made by the owner: only the ones who were considered intellectually worthy by him could have the honour to visit his private room. Therefore only a very small group of people could be considered part of this elite.

The bathroom in the 1700s
The Bathroom

The bathroom assumed various functions and meanings in the past so that it would make a real historical reconstruction difficult. The word "bath" comes from the Latin "balneum", and it was the place where the body was immersed for hygienic, healing and ritual purposes. In the early 1900s, the first bathroom rooms appeared in the palaces, which were used to demonstrate the Lord's social distinction over the rest of the plebiscites as a room still considered superfluous to the rest of the home. The primary importance was certainly not related to the need to cure their personal hygiene but was more of a demonstration of their elite state not belonging to everyone.

Thebathtub was the fulcrum of the room: large marble tanks often stalled in the center and needed the work of a large number of housekeepers for their operation.



  • baroque showcase


    Baroque showcase
    Entering the owner's bedroom an elegantly constructed Baroque showcase strikes the eye. At the base angels and putti adorn a seashell from which a female figure emerges as an allegory of spring. This spectacular piece contains precious stones, jewels, perfumed oils, and objects for a woman’s beauty routine.


  • ex confessional showcase


    Ex-confessional showcase
    Always in the reception room we can see two very majestic showcases in old walnut, one on each side. The characteristic of the two showcases is that they were repurposed from two church confessionals that were first disassembled and then reassembled. The Doric capital lends harmony to the squared forms of the showcase.

  • Venetian living room

    Family living room
    In the main hall of the museum the focal point is the stately fireplace in white Carrara marble. Above it is a majestic mirror framed in wood decorated with Murano glass that reflects the furnishing in the hall. A small sitting room in front of the fireplace represents a moment of leisure between a lady and a gentleman.

  • marble fireplace

    Marble fireplace
    In the main hall of the museum the focal point is the stately fireplace in white Carrara marble. Above it is a majestic mirror framed in wood decorated with Murano glass that reflects the furnishing in the hall. A small sitting room in front of the fireplace represents a moment of leisure between a lady and a gentleman.

  • Walnut bureau

    Walnut bureau
    In the central hall of the museum there is a splendid collection of mirrors in Murano glass. Below each of them some bureaus finely crafted by master cabinetmakers to enhance their stateliness. The bureau, accompanied by a bedside table, is veneered in walnut in such a way as to form geometric figures on the sides.

  • Sculpted bookcase

    Sculpted bookcase
    The hall called the “pensatoio” - or “thinking room” - is one of the most unusual rooms of the Otaru palace. Elegant and sophisticated, it contains some truly unique pieces of classic furniture. The Baroque style bookcase is just one example. The base is richly sculpted by hand to contrast with the simple form of the upper part. Inside there are parchments and Murano glass figurines.

  • Foyer console

    Foyer console
    In the main hall of the Otaru Museum, against the wall opposite the fireplace, two Louis Philippe style consoles alternate with the two doors to the room. Their function in the room is merely decorative. Above each of the consoles is a portrait of a lady.

  • Divinity showcase

    Divinity showcase
    Inside the Venetian museum of Otaru there is a showcase displaying unique pieces of Murano glass. The antique showcase in Baroque style presents two mythological figures: on one side the goddess Diana wielding a bow and arrow, while on the other Apollo is holding a lyre.

  • Venetian lion console

    Venetian lion console
    Inside the Otaru Museum's room of wonders stands a console that is truly one of a kind. The base comprises four lions carved entirely by hand to support a crystal table top. The decision to position this console in the wunderkammer was taken after much consideration: the four lions are very realistic, an essential characteristic of the objects worthy of the room of wonders.

  • pink-sofa

    Pink divans
    In the vast area of the central hall of the palace, also known as “Hall of the Gondola”, some two-seat divans are placed along the walls to allow visitors to relax while observing the gondola that transported Prince Charles and Lady Diana during one of their visits to Venice. The divans are faithful reproductions of eighteenth-century Venetian style.

  • Red Venetian table-desk

    Red Venetian table-desk
    In the centre of the room called the "pensatoio" - “or thinking room” we find the lovely hand-sculpted desk in a Venetian style, accompanied by an upholstered bench-style divan and two armchairs. The red colour with gold details lends elegance and sophistication to the entire room. The white Carrara tabletop is the perfect complement to the ivory upholstery of the chairs.

  • Guests table

    Guests’ table
    Just outside the room of wonders there is the reception room, which can be recognised by the stately refectory table that fills the entire centre of the room. The room was used to welcome guests who, very often, had to wait a considerable amount of time for the lord and lady of the home to arrive. The table is the only one of its kind in the world: the tabletop is made of just one single piece of Italian walnut, 13 cm thick and 4 metres long.

  • Dining room

    Dining room
    The large main hall has been divided into multiple settings. On one side of the gaming room in front of the large marble fireplace, we find a table sumptuously set with settings from the Island of Murano. The armchairs around the table invite the guests to partake in the banquet. Above the Baroque-style console is a large mirror offering a perfect reflection of the table.

  • Reception room

    Reception room
    The main hall of the Otaru Museum presents multiple settings. Following the central gaming room is the side dining hall, followed by a reception room. The room is small, bringing to mind a place suitable for chitchat. On the opposite side, there is a specular and majestic Baroque console entirely made and inlaid by hand. The mirror is majestic in form to reflect the rest of the room.



details and curiosities

  • The bathroom

    The WC was not concealed, indeed it had almost the second official function, so that the hosts were usually granted hearing in the fulfilment of their physiological functions or after having received regular etheroclism. Moreover, the medicine of time (1700) knew only three remedies for any disorder: bloodletting, purge or enema.
    The psyche was a long mirror that allowed those who used the bathroom to reflect in their entirety. The sophistication of the object as it was equipped with tilting was part of the vast amount of sophistication that the Lord possessed and showed to his guests with pride. From the lines above you can understand that this part of the building was certainly not an area worthy of privacy but it was often used as a substitute for reception rooms.

  • Die Wunderkammer

    The first collectors where mostly astrologists, mathematician and men of science, thus it was most likely to find instruments of scientific investigation inside these rooms. Also there where other objects that did not have any scientific use but put there only because of their preciousness and uniqueness.
    These objects, for example crystals and corals, used to show and highlight the social status of the collectors.






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