An architect can do magical things, when the project is able to embrace the attitude of the inhabitants of a space, immediately bringing out its potential. The refined, cultured couple active in the world of numbers who called on Davide Fabio Colaci to construct the theater of their lives, an apartment of modest size in the center of Milan, with the plus of a terrace level on the roof, trusted his judgment. “We were already thinking about the design of the apartment next door, on which we were focusing, but during the course of the work everything changed, including the choice of which unit to buy,” the owners explain. The reasoning on solutions proposed by the professor of Interior Architecture at the Milan Polytechnic, who explores composition in ways that are never banal, was convincing. He was offered total freedom, simply with the expressed desire to have exceptional order in the spaces of the house, combined with exceptional liberty of use for special occasions, parties and gatherings. On an operative level, this meant inserting many storage elements, and the re-orchestration in new balances of a traditional layout formed by a central corridor with rooms at its sides.
Taking complexity as a dimension of the project without succumbing to the ploy of emptying and slimming everything to achieve the result of an at times anonymous spatial lightness – “interiors that are too terse and rigid are often more violent than kitsch,” Colaci points out – the architect intervened with a series of unconventional devices that join forces, with all their differences, in the perception of an extremely effective synthesis, as soon as one crosses the entrance threshold. “In the living area, which is very luminous thanks to an arrangement of tall windows on the internal side of the courtyard, we have conserved only the rugged circular pillar in fair-face concrete, like the root of what existed there before, working with a series of central elements, custom furnishings or iconic pieces from the history of design, and contemporary items, to set the pace of the open space, constructing new relationships,” the architect says.
“Very clean, rigorous lines, warmed by a forceful but basic, almost humble material, in tones of petroleum green and powder pink, capturing contrasts between reflections and transparencies, white light and dense colors, soft textures and stereometrics forms, to enhance the sense of fluidity and visual connection between the islands.” Hence the entrance zone has been reinterpreted with an object caddie and a wardrobe with reflecting doors and built-in lights, designed for the occasion. A new monolithic staircase in raw earth, that does not reach the ceiling, connects the two levels of the apartment, incorporating a small closet behind the door covered in fabric, with a Mollino-like form. A stone step marks the starting point and a metal step marks the landing, while the curved metal handrail anchored to the wall, made by Mingardo, protects transit while permitting the light from the roof terrace to reach the living area, applying the same fine craftsmanship that sets the tone of other presences in the domestic landscape.
Like the elegant bookcase in Viroc, a composite panel of wood particles, that forms the fulcrum for the layout of the spaces: an enclosure with a circular form, juxtaposed with the full materiality of the wooden floors and the top of the large round table in the living area. A double full-height partition marks the open passages from the living room to the kitchen with two deep thresholds, following the rhythm of the windows and producing other visual fields. On one side, there is a storage cabinet (also for the climate control system) with doors in bronze-effect metallic laminate, enhanced by details in oak (handles) that link up with the Fiemme wood floors installed in segments. A surface that takes on an almost rosy glow with the light at sundown, welcoming on fixed paneling the poetic license of a directional lamp over the large wooden table.
On the side of the kitchen the wing instead becomes an accessorized wall, with a petroleum green lacquer finish, to gather refrigerators, service elements and an overhanging island in black granite, like the table that establishes a dialogue with a mirror window and a formal feature that references Sottsass. “It is never very enjoyable to eat up against the wall,” the designer says, “so a mirror with a structure in desaturated lemon yellow can become a magical touch, ideally projected elsewhere and immediately triggering unexpected relationships.” The opposite wall, free of hanging cabinets (the hood is hidden in the suspended ceiling) conveys the strong character of an absolute black granite top with a larger depth than in traditional kitchens.
In the master bathroom, the designer’s research on materials shifts to wood and Ceppo di Gré, cladding the space which features a larges shower and a continuous mirrored cabinet over the washstands. In the guest bathroom, a circular solution of accordion curtains, like the ones preferred by Gio Ponti (another erudite reference), play an important role: they separate the ante-chamber from the service area, and the laundry room on the right.
On the upper level an unexpected terrace becomes the true high point of the house. Here the custom fixed furnishings contain a green border developed with landscape designer Dario Valenti, while the conversation, dining and solarium zones create other outdoor rooms, rendered fluid by a unified teak deck and offering exceptional views of the city.
Project Davide Fabio Colaci with Margherita Sanfelici - Stylist Alessandra Chiarelli - Photos Andrea Martiradonna