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Meet Luca Barberini, arguably the coolest mosaic artist in Ravenna. He is taking an old medium and transforming it into fresh and modern art.

Luca’s Via di Roma 136 project is ingenious. The kind of idea which, if I were a mosaic artist myself, I’d snap my fingers and say “Darn! Why didn’t I think of that first?!” But then, I would still need his talent to execute it.

So “Via di Roma 136” is a permanent installation. A condominium building with 56 windows etched into the wall of his studio. Each apartment window is an individual white-framed mosaic painting, each depicting various cultural, political, and everyday lifestyle scenes. A person cooking in the kitchen, a library, people having a romantic dinner, people taking a selfie with a selfie stick, bookshelves, potted plants, religious figures, someone being stabbed in a bloody bathroom

Each apartment window is numbered, signed, and also for sale for “a handful euros“. Each time an apartment is sold, it is referred to as the residents of Apartment No. 433 (example) moving out. When a new window is created, it means new residents have moved in.

Each apartment window is photographed and shared on Facebook and Instagram and a voyeuristic community has been built around the concept. Now followers want to know who has “moved in” and who has “moved out” and get a glimpse into their everyday lives.

Just how cool is this project, right?

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Beyond the condominium concept, I love that Luca is taking an old medium – mosaics – and making them fresh, contemporary, and ultra-modern in his execution. When I dropped by his studio while traveling around Emilia Romagna, he was working on a commissioned series of portraits. A photographer who’d just returned from a trip around Asia and had shot various local portraits commissioned Luca to interpret those images in his own way using colorful mosaics.

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Vividly creative in so many ways – I was instantly drawn to Luca’s visual style. He could put just two or three pieces of tiles together, and you could immediately guess who he was portraying. Some of his work touched on political and religious themes as well, inviting the viewer to question what they’ve always believed as truth.

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Luca runs Koko Mosaico alongside his wife and partner, fellow mosaic artist Arianna Gallo (pictured above) where mosaic artists gather to learn and talk about their medium as well as teach mosaic-making workshops – from beginner to advanced, and family courses. They work on a variety of commissioned projects from copies of ancient mosaics to more modern designs and contemporary installations.

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So if you head over to Ravenna to check out its UNESCO-protected mosaics, be sure to drop by Luca’s inspirational studio and get in touch with him if you’d love to buy your own window into Via di Roma 136. You can check out more photos and mosaics from his studio in my image bank below.

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My trip to Italy was with the award-winning #BlogVille campaign and a collaboration between the Emilia Romagna Tourism Board and iambassador.

  • Alessandra Giannelli

    When I saw for the first time the artistic work of Luca emerge from a gallery of images on the web I felt as if I made an important discovery.

    I thought wow! So simple but so ingenious and so darn realistic after all!
    It was at that precise moment that I realized my “visceral need” to own one of his artworks although I had never seen one in person.

    Looking at his portfolio I got inspired from a series of portraits of fantasy he made few years ago and I suddenly got this idea to turn some of my best ‘non professional’ shots captured between Africa, Asia and South America into mosaic portraits, an artwork that I could really feel as mine.

    So it comes the series of portraits of real people caught by the lens in moments of everyday life, protagonists often unaware of the pictures.

    Now this beautiful private collection of 33 “travel portraits” result of a lucky intuition and of course of the great ability of the artist and destined to increase in size is permanently exhibited in the halls of CARDAMOMO in Como, Italy where it is having great success among the public.

    Alessandra Giannelli

    • Hi Alessandra!
      Thank you so much for your wonderful comments and thoughts about Luca’s work! He’s an innovative and refreshing artist.

      • Alessandra Giannelli

        Yes indeed he is and I’m happy to have worked with him. By September portraits will be exhibited along with the original photographs printed on canvas. Photographs will be facing portraits involving the public in a funny game. A kind of treasure hunt or, more properly, a photo hunt trying to identify shots that inspired each singular portrait.

  • Monica-USA

    Very cool ideas!