In the province of Como, the spaces that contained the first architecture and design studio of Carlo Colombo in the 1990s have been transformed to create a country house for Colombo’s son: a place of memory that opens to the dynamic, flexible spirit of the new generations

Stubbornly in love with Brianza, where he was born, though he has lived elsewhere for ten years. It might be because this green landscape is the home of the design majors, bearing witness to the success of Italian design in the world, in a constant, ongoing dialogue. It might be because he learned the art of working with materials and forms in the family company at Carimate, in the province of Como.

In any case, the architect-designer Carlo Colombo has conserved a magical place in his native land, and in his heart: his first studio, opened in 1993, in what used to be a hayloft for the stables of the nearby Visconti castle. Covered by tour guides, the Carimate castle is the symbol of this town, which has grown and changed from 1345 to the present, recently become an exclusive residential center gravitating around a golf course.


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Born in Carimate in 1967, he graduated in Milan in 1993 and immediately began collaborating with Cappellini for projects such as the Archimede bed and the ZigoZago rug. In parallel with his work as a consultant for furnishing companies, Carlo Colombo took part in the renovation of both public and private buildings, such as showrooms, offices, restaurants and villas; one of his most interesting projects is the Hong Kong Louvre Gallery, an exhibition space for high quality design products. Today Carlo Colombo, as well as with Poltrona Frau and Cappellini, works for companies such as Arflex, Moroso, Poliform, Varenna and Flou. In 2004 he received the "Designer of the Year" award in Tokyo and, as an Italian member, he held industrial design conferences in Italy, Israel, Greece, Portugal, Slovenia, Ukraine, Australia, Russia, England, Brazil and China.

In this precise context, the time of history has made the place where Carlo Colombo welcomed his first clients, in an elegant, refined atmosphere, be transformed into a seasonal country residence. A house the designer has given to his son, a student based in London and an excellent golfer. The two share a taste for an erudite mixture of memories and timeless impressions.

The original layout of the spaces on three levels, previously reconstructed on an architectural plane, with a sophisticated range of material combinations – rugged stone and brick of the restored walls of the hayloft, the dark wood of the old ceiling beams, the steel of the custom staircase, like a reflecting ribbon to connect the levels, the pale, polished stone of the floors, the thin panes of glass in the vertical dividers – now becomes permeable to the light of a new day.

“On the ground level we have added a kitchen that can be hidden away, for low visual impact,” says Carlo Colombo. “When it is closed it looks like an ebony monolith, and when it is open the doors fit into the sides. This option is perfect for a house that is not constantly occupied. Together with the table-sculpture with a marble top for quick lunches, and the Joe baseball glove by Poltronova, it forms an intimate island in a space that was once the library of my studio.”

On the other side of the entrance, the living area is more social, organized around a fireplace as a place for conversation or listening to music, where the large DePadova table is ideal for dinners and parties with friends.

Other ingredients have come into the narrative mixture, including iconic furniture from the history of design, and custom plastic elements that conserve the original welcoming atmosphere.

By contrast, the other two levels have been completely gutted, reinterpreted and modified in terms of functions: the middle floor contains a studio and a guest zone, while the upper level is for the master suite with a closet, a bathroom and a private living area. The spaces interpenetrate, flowing into one another.

“They are unrecognizable,” the architect continues. “After all, the pleasure of feeling at home (now that it has become a home, to all effects) belongs to my son. The hand, the timbre, the desire to play with spaces and create something enjoyable, belong to me. But the idea of this particular dimension of light, informal comfort is the result of our interaction, of awareness of a generation that is not ours, exposed to infinite connections and virtual relationships, interested in a dynamic, flexible way of dwelling; open to moments of gathering and socializing, but also closed to defend a precious sense of privacy.”

The idea of this particular dimension of light, informal comfort is the result of awareness of a generation that is not ours, exposed to infinite connections and virtual relationships, open to moments of gathering and socializing, but also closed to defend a precious sense of privacy."

In the spaces with essential, clean lines, the latest cookbooks, art, design, fabrics and lamps exist alongside travel souvenirs, sculptures from Asia – Hong Kong, Manila, the Philippines – and Africa, works by Mimmo Rotella and Marco Grassi, and new design pieces selected from the products Colombo senior has designed for various companies. Every item is important, in its own way, for the construction of new dreams, visions and thoughts, in a design that is energy and life.

Project Carlo Colombo - Photos Walter Gumiero