Joining forces to create a unique Tuscan sanctuary, art professional Lena Evstafieva together with her musician and producer husband Jérôme Hadey and Parisian restaurateur and nightclub owner Lionel Bensemoun, have created a space where people can come to practice their art surrounded by stunning landscapes, or one that people can simply visit to escape to a beautiful retreat. Lena, who studied a Master’s degree in Fine and Decorative Arts at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, bought the estate in 2007 with Jérôme and Lionel. It was in an extensive state of disrepair, but Lena’s keen eye for aesthetics as well as Jérôme and Lionel’s skills and knowledge were combined, to redevelop the property and lead them to create the remarkable villa that it is today.
The initial idea was formed by the trio when they wanted to create an environment that combined their experiences in music, art, entertainment, film, fashion and other creative fields, in a place where nature, culture and community intertwine. But Villa Lena isn’t simply a place with a creative atmosphere; it is a stunning artist’s residence with the Villa Lena Agriturismo and Art Foundation. Its residency programme, run by Lena herself, welcomes creatives of all sorts, such as writers, musicians and artists. In exchange for a programme of talks and workshops, each creative is provided with two months of accommodation and studio space, and food fresh from the grounds. Whether a musician leaves a song, a writer leaves a poem or an artist leaves a painting, a piece of work must be left behind as a record of their stay.
Caring about environmentally sustainable and socially responsible projects, Lena has been able to combine both of those passions into their artist-residency programme. The concept of Villa Lena and the Artist Foundation continues to develop throughout the seasons, but the core remains; to create an environment where both guests and artists can have space away from everyday life, get creative and be inspired by the 500 hectares of breathtaking Tuscan landscapes, in which Villa Lena is so beautifully nestled.
The creative haven of Villa Lena is made up of 14 loft apartments converted from old farm buildings, and decorated with art, instruments and sculptures from the visiting artists. The remaining aspects of the rooms have been beautifully pieced together by the aesthetic eyes of the founding trio, to echo the nature of the Tuscany countryside and assist in connecting to it and its resident artists. The trio wanted to create a space where people could feel comfortable being as social or as isolated as they would like to be, so each guest is able to experience this stunning retreat at their own pace.
Lena, Jérôme and Lionel are clearly a trio skilled in weaving together their visions, passions and ideals, and after the success of Villa Lena, we would not be surprised if they decided to do it all again!
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