20th-Century Art Enlivens This Standout Among Milan Apartments
“We enjoy reflecting on how to best employ the new technologies,” say Studio Paradisiartificiali founders Alessandro Cortesi and Lorenzo De Nicola. “But we feel very much like children of the 20th century.” That may seem like a dichotomy, and to be sure the pair have made a career of interiors defined by contrasts and surprises. But their latest, a mini studio apartment in Milan, is definitive proof of the virtue of oppositions.
In the modern way, the client—a teacher at a local primary school—contacted Alessandro and Lorenzo online. The rest of the story belongs to the previous century, however. Her 400-square-foot apartment is tucked into a case a ringhiera or, as the pair explains, social housing structures built in the early 1900s. “To live in such places you feel like you are in a time-machine, or a pre-industrial, almost bucolic set,” they add.
Stage set, they enlisted two of the previous century’s major art movements. First, surrealism. “We imagined some hens escaping from their henhouse and running around the kitchen,” they say. Chickens and eggs come to roost in the kitchen via “a bizarre mathematic expression” created in collaboration with Ukrainian artist Pavel Zhovba and digitally printed upon tiles. Next, another tile teamwork, this time in tribute to abstract expressionism. It began, they say, with a painting in the living room, a 1962 work by the gestural artist Peter Upward. “By observing this painting,” they say, “we could notice the limited color palette present in his artwork. This brought us to have minimalistic reflections around the use of color. As architects, we asked ourselves how to interpret color through minimal gestures. Why not imagine the bathroom could become a small art gallery, with an exhibit of another giant of abstraction: Ellsworth Kelly?”
Why not, indeed. They found a company with a wide range of colorful square tiles. “Afterwards we selected some artworks by the master Kelly and we re-constructed them together,” they share. Thus, through very contemporary means, they fit an entire history of the last century in a flat that looks like the future.
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