In the heart of Milan, in a 1930s building with a neoclassical-monumental architectural flavor, Daniela Gerini lives in a charming apartment crowned by a spacious terrace. And from here, the successful stylist-designer with her experimental and artistic background continues to reinvent her relations with everything around her, starting by listening to the history of the place. “I like the idea of a lively and dynamic home, I like to look for things that have already acquired plenty of experience, readjusting them and featuring them in small settings and arrangements that accompany my moods. It’s another way of rediscovering the spatial, material and environmental qualities of the twentieth-century architecture that surrounds them,” she explains.
“In fact, this house has grown with me. Like the objects from different periods that I’ve accumulated in its rooms over time and that have stimulated the course of my work that began in fashion. They are all ideas and prompts to imagine new big little stories. The important thing is that wherever I look, I can find and feel my own atmosphere, energy, lightness, irony and poetry.
“The architect Vanna Brega Bolzoni, a close friend who has passed away, and with whom I also designed the atelier in via Sant’Andrea, helped me revise the period layout, the succession of many small rooms and closed interiors, turning them into open, bright and fluid spaces, leading through to the terrace that extends the living space out doors during the summer. Together, for example, we designed the very large and convivial kitchen, where there’s even room for a cozy fireplace, specially for winter evenings, a bergère, romantic suspended toys and a large dining table. Here I receive friends and guests, though the heart of the house is the large living room, where the pleasure of mingling and juxtaposing apparently dissonant pieces embraces design and contemporary art, objets trouvés and iconic furnishings.
Even the design of the internal doors were an idea we had. They’re arched in white painted iron and they use silk-screen printing on the glass parts to ‘fossilize’ the same motifs printed on the walls of the communal areas of the building, in search of other symmetries with the large squared perimetral French windows.” In the end Walt Whitman’s “I contain multitudes” and the home as a “mirror of the soul” by Mario Praz in Casa Gerini are so many overlapping layers that rewrite, with a wholly female sensibility, a sort of fresh, joyful and historiated parchment rich in details. A custom-made frame for taste, harmony and aesthetic refinement. In this way there are the colors the designer loves, blue and yellow in particular, bringing life and light to the rooms. There are her geometric, polygonal and broken forms, abstractions rather in the style of David Tremlett, graphically lining the walls; acrylic colors in strong, full shades painted on fabric or canvases that define dense paintings; the tables dressed in fabric with an immediate tactile effect, the totems finished with her beloved Abet Print.
On the other hand, the objects that are not of her own design are variegated presences that often come in pairs. Like the Murano glass chandeliers or Pierre Paulin’s original Sixties armchairs. Or, again, they are one-off pieces of a decorative kind and with a conceptual and archetypal significance that favor a deconstructed figurative quality. Like Masaniello fuori di sè by Ernesto Tatafiore, the symbol of a revolutionary figure made up of four pieces resting on the mantelpiece. Or the ceramic vases by Antonia Campi and Ettore Sottsass. These are the cultural and iconographic parameters of a house that welcomes new patterns of living in its original spaces, revealing how the quality of the interior coincides with the time of life.
“I have a passion for all kinds of artistic expression: in particular the painter Sonia Delaunay is one of my greatest inspirations. But I’m also a fan of Ettore Sottsass and Memphis. Besides fabrics, another material I really like is ceramic,” reveals Daniela Gerini. Unsurprisingly, during the recent Milan Design Week, on display at the Rossana Orlandi Gallery, at the Boschi Di Stefano Museum Home and naturally at the atelier in via Sant’Andrea, there were her recent creations in painted fabric and ceramic, materials that in her hands immediately become beauty and elegance of thought.
Project Vanna Brega Bolzoni architect with Daniela Gerini - Photos Filippo Bamberghi