Travel Diary: Vicente Wolf in Iran
Travel is an essential part of the job for renowned decorator Vicente Wolf. The interiors maven spends three months a year visiting far-flung regions of the world in search of inspiration and one-of-a-kind pieces—everything from rugs and textiles to necklaces and plates—to sell in his New York City showroom, VW Home.
This year, the Cuban-born designer headed to Bali, South Africa, and Iran, where he stayed in small villages and met with local vendors to source items and create custom pieces for clients, both residential and commercial (including Wynn Hotels), and for his own homes.
No destination is off-limits for Wolf, who found his time in Isfahan, a central province of Iran, especially moving. “I’ve had several Iranian clients, and the way they praised their home country made me want to experience it first hand,” he says. “Iran is often discredited in the press, but everyone I encountered on my trip was extremely friendly and hospitable.”
Here, he shares some of his favorite places, pieces, and memories exclusively with T+L.
Abbasian House, a historical house you can visit in the city of Kashan, has beautiful plaster carvings and colored glass windows.
Chehel Sotoun is a pavilion and UNESCO World Heritage Site in Isfahan (the capital city of its namesake province) with terraces and state rooms where foreign ambassadors and dignitaries were once entertained. The building has 20 slender wooden columns in front that support an extraordinary Venetian-glass mirrored ceiling, and which also reflect onto a 52-foot-long pool.
Naqsh-e Jahan Square, at the center of Isfahan.
I had to pose in front of this beautiful tile work.
Bastani, a restaurant in Isfahan where locals gather to eat lunch, relax, and socialize. I stopped there for squab cooked with fresh plums and a lamb and vegetable stew.
Most stores sell wares made by local craftspeople, but I discovered an artisan who actually produces the plates he sells. He showed me the process of applying finish to cloissoné plates, a skill he's really perfected.
Right: I bought several strands of prayer and worry beads made from colored glass and wood inlaid with silver.
A local vendor selling handwoven rugs.
Inside a local bazaar, which was filled with shops specializing in spices, sweets, textiles, metal and lacquer work, prayer beads, and rugs. There were even a couple of art galleries.
I took this while out in the countryside. The architectural details and scenery were really inspiring.
A sunset in Isfahan.
If I had to pick one adjective to describe the Iranian people, it would be "hospitable." Everywhere I went, people asked me where I was from, and thanked me for visiting Iran.
Right: Masjid-I Imam (or Shah Mosque), designed by architect Sheikh Bahai, has an extraordinary application of millions of precisely cut tiles that fit together like a giant puzzle.
A detail shot of the tiles at Masjid-I Imam. Each and every angle was conceived as a perfect receptacle for light and shade.
Masjid-I Shaykh Lotfallah mosque was built in the 17th century exclusively for the Shah. You can tell it was designed for one person, because there are no minarets, which are used to call the faithful to prayer.
Inside Masjid-I Shaykh Lotfallah, full of ornate details and a vibrant, rich golden hue.
Right: Light is cast through the window as the rotation of the sun changes, highlighting different poems that are inscribed on the mosque's walls.
The façade of Saraye Ameriha, a boutique hotel in the historic district of Kashan.
Right: The hotel was converted from a former merchant home, which gives it a unique feel.