“Certain love stories never end; they wander far and wide, but then they return, inseparably,” says Antonello Venditti. As if through a principle of communicating vessels, the new Milanese home of Enrica Massei, former fashion stylist and now an interior designer, has the refined look of a tailor-made garment.
A highly creative mix and match of colors and materials, starting with “that bottle green of the paneling that goes so nicely with orange, bordeaux and pale turquoise in the furnishings,” the owner explains. Together with works of contemporary art gathered over time, linear cuts inspired by the Russian Constructivists – especially Malevich – and anonymous objects of great technical prowess, like the vase “made of bent spoons joined to a central egg holder, created by a gentleman who repairs dishwashers in Turin,” flanked by design classics like the table by Tobia Scarpa or the floor lamp by Osvaldo Borsani.
“I was looking for a bigger house, on a high floor,” Massei says. “This one is actually at mid-level, but I can see the sky, and the spaces are full of light. There is an intimate studio space with a cast iron stove found at a market in Paris, framed by bookcases and wall paneling. It is my favorite room, where I work and organize all the publications of houses, which I bind with cord, year after year. In the past they were fashion magazines and books: in forty years of research on fabrics, I put together 6500 magazines and 400 books, which I then donated to major brands when I began another chapter of my life.”
Threads that form connections for many choices. After the first years in Paris with Promostyl and Chloé, with Lagerfeld, Enrica Massei returned to Italy, designing haute couture and ready-to-wear collections for Sanlorenzo (the fashion house founded by her mother), and she achieved success with her own brand, during one of the more vital moments of fashion made in Italy. Those were the Eighties, but the same experimental approach, the same attitude of measure and rigor, return in the matrix of this house.
“I must admit that interior design, like flea markets and art galleries, is a passion I always developed alongside my work in fashion,” she says. “The start of the collaboration with the architect Silvio Maglione dates back to the renovation of this house, in 2017, which marked the start of an interesting period of teamwork, including trusted artisans, a squad that helps us to define unique, personalized solutions. I believe every home requires its own decor, in relation to the specific context. Always with great attention to detail, and the functional layout of the spaces, which have to be enjoyable and livable.”
In this case, the task involved the complete reformulation of the interiors of a classic Milanese flat of about 200 square meters, in a period building in the city center, where many small rooms were lined up along a dark corridor. “Together with Enrica, we shared in the choices of composition and decoration, all the way to the fixed furnishings, rediscovering the keys to update the spaces with a contemporary spirit in the quality and experience of Italian design,” says the architect Silvio Maglione.
“All the living areas have been organized in a fluid, seamless sequence, and face the narrow street below with tall windows. At the center, the living room communicates with the studio and the dining room thanks to perfectly aligned openings. From the dining room one reaches the kitchen, the pantry and the laundry room. The three bedrooms (two for guests) with their own bathrooms are on the other side, looking towards an internal courtyard-garden. In the middle, between the two zones, the spine wall remains, a structural constraint that has been transformed into an opportunity.”
Clad with paneling in strips of dark green lacquered wood, it incorporates and conceals the entrance door, wardrobes, and all the passages towards the nocturnal spaces. This solution has triggered other choices. “Continuing with the logic of underlining the house’s axis,” Maglione says, “we have placed a warm strip of backlighting along the paneling, optimizing its potential in the definition of luminous layers that create the effect of natural skylights on the ceilings, framed by plaster moldings. For maximum flexibility of use, the dark green paneling returns in the studio, covering all the walls in a bookcase version, and in the dining room, where it incorporates the sliding doors that can close off both the spaces, set symmetrically at the sides of the living room.”
Where there is no paneling the walls have been finished in very pale matte gray, in tune with the darker glossy gray on the side that contains the windows. To underscore the poised composure of the whole, the same scheme has been applied in the bedrooms, with facings in glossy resin, accessorized walls, wooden wardrobe cabins, while the bathrooms feature ample surfaces of Carrara marble, along with custom mirrors and lamps.
In all this, a marvelous floor provides the connection of the entire domestic landscape: made with square modules of Piedmont chestnut wood from the 1800s and strips of teak salvaged from a school, complete with engravings of houses, hearts, letters of the alphabet. Other gazes, new curiosities.
Project Enrica Massei and Silvio Maglione - Photos Alberto Ferrero