The 80 square meters of a Milanese railing house become, in the Atelierzero project, an opportunity to tidy up, above all mental, among hundreds of pieces of art and icons of great value

An interior project can be a terrific opportunity to bring order, physically and mentally, into your life. Coming to terms with memory, choosing what to keep next to you and what, instead, to leave behind, not without a bit of pain: it is no coincidence that decluttering has long been a topic for psychologists. Then, when architecture is combined with psychology, the result can be a small masterpiece like the one that the Milanese studio Atelierzero has created in the 80 square meters of a typical railing house in the Lombard capital, guiding and accompanying the owner in the very delicate choice of furnishings and art works to be saved and kept in the renovated spaces, between memories of the former Yugoslavia and travel memories around the world.


Developed on two floors, the project leaves the lower floor as a mainly service area and brings the main functions to the attic. A small terrace in your pocket, overlooking the internal courtyard, becomes a moment of openness and contact with the outside that floods the kitchen with natural light.

The “emotional” heart of the project is precisely the reorganization of the mental space, with the long process of selecting the many objects, furnishings, paintings and lamps that crowded the house more by habit than by choice.

“We wanted to redesign the spaces by giving a more suitable and contemporary frame to the pre-existing elements, to objects intimately linked to the customer's personal history” explain the designers. Classic materials such as Vienna straw, grit, marble, parquet, constitute an abacus of experienced and known sensations, used as a base to be reinterpreted and made more suitable for a contemporary apartment.

Thus, the bathroom floor reinterprets the classic Milanese grit cement tiles in a geometric key, the Vienna straw doors of the custom-made sliding doors (which divide the living room from the other rooms) recall the stuffing of the Thonet chairs collected by the customer, marble of the new made-to-measure island matches that of the existing kitchen top, new lamps with essential geometries find their place among the various pieces with a 70s and 80s flavor.

“We began to give meaning to the apparent compulsive accumulation from the pre-work move, which led to changes, even radical ones, to the project”, tell the architects. The owner has lived through Tito's Yugoslavia to the full  some images of which are found in the house, more as a historical memory or scar than as a sign of political belonging – hence the transition and dissolution of the Balkan state. For each travel experience abroad, dozens of paintings and pieces of art and design correspond, only partially reused in the design.

“We spent whole afternoons in the warehouse where all the furnishings and works were stored, from paintings to statues in stone or iron, to be selected and used in the new project. The selection criterion was not so much the artistic or economic value of the pieces (which in any case was very high for everyone), as the personal and emotional significance. Several of the paintings used, for example, are by Carpinteri, a friend and collaborator of Andrea Pazienza, while the most important work is a seventeenth-century engraving by Stefano Della Bella”. 

A bust of Marie Antoinette stands out in the kitchen. The house is dotted with frog statues and figurines, her husband's birthday gifts. Almost all the lamps used in the project are “recycled: Costanza by Luceplan, three Parentesi and a Toio by Flos, Tolomeo by Artemide and a dozen lamps by Ingo Maurer: three Light Au Lait on a shelf in the kitchen, a Delight on the marble sink, a Don Quixote on the bedside table in the bedroom, a One From the Hearth on the desk, a Bibibibi on the coffee table in the living room, two One for the Recession in the studio.

For each piece by Ingo Maurer, the lady has an anecdote to tell: the Don Quixote, for example, is her favorite because she was fascinated by its technology”.