3 Must-See Fashionable Interiors in Milan

For Milan Fashion Week SS 24, we revisit our three favourite Milanese interiors – designed to inspire your next home refresh.

Article by T Australia

07-TMAG-SOZZANIS-HOME-3In the living room, a collection of raku ceramic works made by Sozzani’s partner, Kris Ruhs, complement one of his oil paint and metal relief works. Photograph by Federico Ciamei.

There’s no place more fashionable to be right now than Milan, where the likes of Fendi, Jil Sander and Gucci are showcasing their Spring Summer 24 collections. However, in fairness, the city is considered to be alla moda all-year round – as the writer Heidi Dokulil wrote in our “Structure” issue, Milan is the “epicentre of Italian commerce and the home of the Negroni, risotto alla Milanese and the Fondazione Prada.”

If Italy’s fashion capital has captured your imagination, live as the Milanese do and embrace the locals’ surreal yet cosy approach to interior styling. From Barnaba Fornasetti fantastical home to Piero Lissoni’s ever-shifting abode, here we revisit the Milan interiors worthy of your attention this week.


Everything in Carla Sozzani’s Home Has a Story, Including Her Cat

Carla Sozzani sits on a Gaetano Pesce Up 5 armchair in her Milan apartment. Photograph by Federico Ciamei.

The founder of the concept store 10 Corso Como has filled her Milan apartment with treasured pieces collected during her life in fashion.

It was the night the lights went out that Carla Sozzani realised just how influential she’d become. On that day in March 1999 — nine years after founding 10 Corso Como, arguably the world’s first concept store, on an unremarkable thoroughfare on the northern edge of Milan — she was putting the finishing touches on an exhibition in the space when the neighbourhood went dark. “I called the city,” Sozzani recalls, “and they told me, ‘Carla, you’re going to be very happy, the power is off because the construction work has started. Corso Como is going to be a pedestrian street from now on.’” By putting down roots outside of Milan’s centre, Sozzani had forced its fashionable shoppers out of their comfort zone, and like-minded businesses had followed suit. Suddenly, this tract of city was the most exciting place to be.

By Laura May Todd

Read the full feature here.

Inside the Surreal Home of a Celebrated Milan Design Family

More than 50 mirrors hang throughout the house. Photography by Marco Mucig.

Barnaba Fornasetti has kept the fantastical spirit of his father’s namesake business alive in the clan’s house and offices, where whimsy and surprises abound.

Barnaba Fornasetti, 73, was three years old when he first collaborated, albeit unwittingly, with his father, the famed artist, designer and lithographer Piero Fornasetti. He had wandered into Piero’s studio on the ground floor of the family home in Milan’s Citta Studi neighbourhood to offer him two small gifts — a daisy and a hydrangea leaf, which he had plucked from the dense bushes just outside the window. By then, the elder Fornasetti was well known for his furniture and household objects adorned with wildly surreal illustrations: chairs with smiling sunbursts rising up their backs, trompe l’oeil cabinets that resemble heaving bookshelves and, most famously, ceramic plates printed with infinite iterations of the opera singer Lina Cavalieri’s pale oval face. Moved by his son’s simple gift, Piero made a sketch of it and later that year reproduced the illustration, titled “Foglia di’Ortensia,” on a white metal serving platter.

One of these trays now resides in the entryway of the house, propped up in a glass case teeming with Fornasetti ephemera (matchbooks, ceramic vessels and miniatures all decorated with Piero’s drawings). Barnaba, who became the artistic director of Fornasetti when Piero died in 1988, still lives in the home, and among his trove of treasured objects, the plate has a particular sentimental value: He considers it the beginning of his near-lifelong creative dialogue with his father.

By Laura May Todd

Read the full feature here.

Piero Lissoni Can’t Stop Reinventing His Milan Apartment

In the living room, a Lissoni-designed Living Divani Floyd sofa, PK71 nesting tables, a PK80 bench and a pair of PK22 leather chairs, all by Kjaerholm and currently produced by Fritz Hansen, along with a small round wooden table from Mali and an Arco lamp by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni for Flos. The artwork is by Alberto Biasi. Photography by Martina Giammaria.
In the living room, a Lissoni-designed Living Divani Floyd sofa, PK71 nesting tables, a PK80 bench and a pair of PK22 leather chairs, all by Kjaerholm and currently produced by Fritz Hansen, along with a small round wooden table from Mali and an Arco lamp by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni for Flos. The artwork is by Alberto Biasi. Photography by Martina Giammaria.

The architect and designer has created a space that celebrates ever-shifting and highly edited juxtapositions.

Piero Lissoni is nothing if not precise. The 65-year-old Italian architect and designer micromanaged everything in his new Milan apartment, from the severe steel window frames to the irregular jigsaw pattern of the primary bathroom’s Carrara marble floors. He is quick to point out that the walls of the apartment, located on a low floor of a 1950s high rise, are not merely white but something known as 9010, or pure white, according to a design-industry colour chart dating back to Weimar-era Germany. However, he equivocates when asked how he managed to make the two-bedroom, 230-square-metre home — marked by formal tableaus of austere objects and a palette that’s best described as chilly — feel somehow cosy, before deferring, finally, to his wife, the 47-year-old Italian photographer Veronica Gaido.

By J.S. Marcus

Read the full feature here.

A Compact Moroccan Apartment Filled With Over 10,000 Curios

By crowding his home to the corners with vintage furniture, antique china and collections of trinkets, a chef proves that too much is never enough.

Article by Nancy Hass - Photographs by Guido Taroni

In the chef Soufiane Lezaar’s living room, plates of Spanish, Moroccan, Italian and Slavic design and collections of masks, fans, tools and toys. A quilted leather pouf sits atop a boucherouite rug in shades of pink and violet. (Guido Taroni)

The Italian Horticulturist  and writer Umberto Pasti has always been a collector, not merely of things and plants — his homes in Milan, Tangier and the Moroccan village of Rohuna are chockablock with Neolithic pottery, antique textiles and Berber pots; his gardens hold roughly 2,000 species of native and exotic flora — but also of people: the more creative and eccentric, the better.

For example, in Rohuna, a rural outpost over 40 miles south of Tangier where Pasti, 63, built his house two decades ago, he met a teenager named Najim Imran, who would likely have become a shepherd had Pasti not sent him to Tangier to study carpentry. Now 30, Imran and his cousin Othman, also 30, use branches of the flowering strawberry tree to build brightly colored painted chairs and tables evocative of 18th-century English garden furniture.

The plate collection spills over into the eat-in kitchen, which is separated from the bedroom by a Berber matrimonial handira. A northern Moroccan morfa wall shelf that houses a collection of owl figurines hangs above the dining table and a pair of spindle-back chairs. (Guido Taroni)

But Pasti’s most unusual aesthetic collaboration has been with his cook, Soufiane Lezaar, 37. The two met five years ago in Tangier, and while Pasti was impressed by the chef’s skills in the kitchen, especially his fluency in European standards such as bouillabaisse and paella, he also encouraged his new employee to pursue his interest in sculpting with galvanized stainless-steel wire. Since then, Lezaar’s graceful tabletop trees, which appear whipsawed by the North African wind, have been sold at London’s Tristan Hoare gallery.

However, it’s the pair’s obsession with collecting that truly binds them. While other homeowners might prefer their live-in cook keep an antiseptic apartment, Pasti celebrates Lezaar’s magpie urge to acquire, a compulsion facilitated by Tangier’s famous flea markets. Virtually every crevice and curve of his 500-square-foot, three-room quarters at the rear of the 4,300-square-foot Tangerine-style house that Pasti shares with his partner, the 63-year-old French fashion designer Stephan Janson, is crammed with vintage finds.

Layered with both story and history, the Mediterranean-style flat makes the main home — a whale’s vertebrae sit atop a 17th-century northern German wardrobe, above which hangs the border of a 17th-century Isfahan rug — feel airy by comparison. But Pasti’s belief is that Lezaar’s environment is less a cabinet de curiosité than “a living Cornell box,” the dioramas redolent with found objects by the 20th-century American artist Joseph Cornell. “It’s like entering someone’s inner world — their mind,” Pasti says.

Lezaar, dressed for work, with his intricate wire sculptures. (Guido Taroni)

It would be impossible to accurately catalog Lezaar’s items, though the men estimate there are at least 10,000. The 200-square-foot living room alone holds about 80 pieces of furniture — wingback chairs upholstered in an Art Deco print, a 1940s octagonal end table, settees covered in kilims and boujaads — that provide display space for assemblages of smaller objects. To some people, such a space would feel claustrophobic, “but I find it comfortable,” says Lezaar, gesturing toward the dozens of tiny tin cars, alabaster eggs, porcelain dolls, archaic medical instruments, miniature airplanes, beaded necklaces and carved gourds.

Several walls are hung with his agglomeration of international plates, ranging from Dutch Delft to Japanese Imari; above his bed is a series of thrift-shop watercolors. A collection of owls in china, glass and wood fill the bottom of the kitchen’s Moroccan wall shelf, known as a morfa. On top of it, Lezaar keeps at least 60 pairs of vintage shears.

That Lezaar’s collecting seems to be escalating is a source of shared joy between the men. No one seems to worry that the space will get too crowded. In fact, Pasti feels energized by his chef’s expanding vision: He believes it contributes to Lezaar’s aesthetic journey, which ultimately is more important to him than being served the perfect soufflé. “After dinner, he leaves on his motorbike and goes to the night market to buy and buy,” Pasti says. “And then in the morning, he shows me everything. It’s heaven.”

Cozy Comforts of Fire, Now Luxe

Once a necessity, fireplaces are now an indulgence.

Article by Craig Kellogg

fireplaces_1A wood-burning fireplace and original Brocatello marble mantelpiece, revived during restoration for a client by architect Alan Barlis, in a West Village 19th century townhouse once owned by Robert De Niro. Photograph by Ashok Sinha/The New York Times.

New Yorkers know all too well the familiar, grating sounds of winter: the hiss, clank and gurgle of radiators.

In elite corners of the city of 8.5 million people, a privileged few are soothed by something else: the crackle.

A working fireplace — from a wood-burning hearth to a gas-powered pit — is as rare as Central Park’s Hot Duck. In 2015, the city banned wood-burning fireplaces in new construction. But fire once powered New York, where many buildings predate electricity, said Kirsten Ring Murray, an architect and owner at Olson Kundig.

“It’s easy to forget about how necessary and fundamental fire was,” she said. “We’ve removed something so essential and beautiful from our everyday experience with modern technology. As designers, we are bringing back its primordial pleasures.”

Fire is now a luxury.

A room’s gas fireplace at the Aman New York, a hotel conversion of a 1921 office building by luxury resort designer Jean-Michel Gathy that contains more than 100 fireplaces. Photograph by Ashok Sinha/The New York Times.

Fires Everywhere

As a boy in Belgium, Jean-Michel Gathy, a luxury resort designer, was charged with adding logs and shoveling ashes to keep his family’s enormous walk-in fireplace burning six months a year.

With that inspiration, Gathy placed more than 100 gas fireplaces within Aman New York, a hotel conversion of a 1921 office building at 57th Street and Fifth Avenue. Gathy’s design uses fire lavishly, as multiple gas fires ring the indoor swimming pool and more burn in the lobby. The adjoining outdoor roof terrace hosts a modern sort of gas bonfire on a tidy round island centered in a reflecting pool.

In a suite upstairs, wood panels that retract surround a bathtub so bathers can view an impressive free-standing glass fireplace at the foot of the bed. Whenever he sleeps at the Aman, the designer said in an email, he keeps his “fire going even when I switch off all the lights, until the very last moment.”

The lobby gas fireplace, with industrial crank and chains for raising and lowering its safety screen, at the Cortland Condominium, a brick tower on the Hudson River in Manhattan. Photograph by Ashok Sinha/The New York Times.

Crank It

Sawmills, foundries and warehouses once filled West Chelsea, so architect Kirsten Ring Murray said she wanted to “touch the industrial memory of the neighborhood” for the new interiors of the Cortland apartments, a riverfront brick tower by Robert A.M. Stern Architects.

The centerpiece of the lobby is a rugged lobby fireplace that she said telegraphs “light and life.” The fire, which is gas, burns sealed behind glass. Children may safely take a turn at the playfully oversized crank and exposed chain, which raise and lower the decorative sepia bronze fire screen mechanically. “Adults love it too,” she said, noting the “sense of wonder from seeing how things work.”

‘Jump Around’

A downtown Manhattan couple, Alana Frankfort, 38, and Dovid Spector, 45, headed to the Upper West Side after their daughter, Sienna, was born in 2018. They settled on a penthouse in a newly built tower with brown oak parquetry and beige limestone, although Tori Golub, the couple’s interior designer, found it “hard to imagine a fun young family there.”

Golub looked for ways to adapt the apartment to the tastes of Frankfort — a founding member of digital retailer Gilt City and a daughter of Lew Frankfort, the former CEO of Coach — and Spector, a real estate executive. “We don’t take ourselves too seriously,” Frankfort said.

So the couple trusted Golub when she advised demolishing a humdrum mantelpiece and re-imagined the hearth by taking inspiration from the 1960s sculpted fireplaces of French artist Valentine Schlegel. “It was like, ‘How do I interpret her work without copying?’” Golub said. The finished white lime plaster surface is by Art in Construction.

The fireplace withstands family life, although children were not its sole intended audience. “They run and jump around, but we also entertain adults,” Spector said.

A Duraflame log buns in the fireplace at the East Village one-bedroom of Zack Moy. Photograph by Ashok Sinha/The New York Times.

Smoke Free

“We don’t have a country house, so this is where we need to be cozy,” said Carol Holt, a retired real estate agent.

She had admired the contemporary lines of a Manhattan neighbor’s bio-ethanol hearth, and asked its architect, Rawlins Design, for something similar in her high-rise living room with no chimney.

The alcohol fuel, which is colorless and fermented from plants, does not produce soot or carbon monoxide that would need venting outdoors, said Christopher Rawlins, the firm’s principal. He alerted building management, but did not need special approval from the New York City Department of Buildings.

The wide new 78-inch custom burner from Polish manufacturer Planika has a white powder-coated finish to match the custom polished Calacatta Michelangelo marble firebox. The fire serves as the focal point for Holt’s living room, with a TV above. “There’s an altar to the television in every New York apartment, so we covered it up,” she said.

Surprisingly heavy robotic doors, plastered by Kamp Studios, slide open automatically with a smartphone app. Holt decided not to link the fire itself to the app. “The grandkids love to grab our phones,” she said. “We hide the fireplace remote in a high cabinet so they can’t just start pushing buttons.”

The Cub Scout

When Zack Moy was searching for an apartment to buy, he spotted an East Village one-bedroom — photos showed a large, unlit wood-burning fireplace. “Does that work?” he asked a real estate agent, hopefully.

It did, and Moy, who founded Afterword.com, a supplier of funeral planning software, was sold on the “small but mighty” apartment.

Moy, 35, didn’t actually know how to use a fireplace. Knowledge of making fire came from his Cub Scout days so he watched several YouTube tutorials to learn to build one “without burning the building down.” Once a month, he bought wood from a bodega to mark special occasions or to roast s’mores. Then he learned about more convenient pressed-sawdust logs.

He ordered three boxes of Duraflame logs and estimates that the logs cost $1 an hour to burn. “I’ll come back from visiting a funeral home in Chicago, light a fire, sink into the couch, and I’m home,” he said.

How Many Fireplaces Are Enough?

Underneath the deteriorating 1970s décor of a West Village town house were multiple grand 19th century rooms, said Alan Barlis, an architect. “America has a bulldozer culture,” he said, and he has a passion for sustainability.

The house, once owned by Robert De Niro, had 14 fireplaces, although only six actually worked by they time Barlis got his hands on it a decade ago on behalf of a client.

The facade of the building has official landmark status, but the interiors can be changed as an owner sees fit. Barlis embarked on detailed restoration, with an eye toward ecology. They went from 14 fireplaces to two — one is in the basement kitchen and the other, with an original Brocatello marble mantelpiece in the rear parlor, is the star of the show.

Its mantelpiece too fragile to move, the fireplace was remade gingerly. A 4-inch supply pipe got nested within the old chimney shaft, to duct fresh outdoor air down from the roof (supplying the oxygen needed for combustion, outdoor air that never mixes with the room air). Can heavy, dirty firewood — typically chopped miles away — be considered more sustainable than, say, a gas log?

“Well, wood is not a fossil fuel,” said Jessie Goldvarg, an associate at Barlis Wedlick.

White marble was used by Rawlins Design to create a sleek, broad hearth at the apartment of Carol Holt, with flames powered by bio-ethanol, a plant-derived alcohol fuel that does not produce soot or carbon monoxide and needs no venting. Photograph by Ashok Sinha/The New York Times.

It’s So Ralph

Fireplaces and Ralph Lauren go together like corduroy and cashmere. Two of the Ralph Lauren boutiques on the Upper East Side have traditional fireplaces that burn gas.

But upstairs from Ralph’s Coffee on Madison Avenue, one of the seasonal furniture salons features a bold, unapologetically faux fire nothing short of master stagecraft.

Dramatically magnified footage of flames, like a seasonal yule log video on the Jumbotron, licks across frameless LED screens. Indeed, the 22-second loop is broadcast from a mini PC running digital-signage software. To complete the illusion, the store’s visual team sheathed a boxy faux hood using painted wallboard, adding an oversized framed abstract by Chicago-based artist Michael McGuire.

In the Bath

“I love sculpting things,” said Bill Sofield, the jet-set architectural designer.

He sculpted a plaster bas-relief for the chimney breast of an indulgent primary bathroom of a home in the West Village for two New York friends Sofield has known since their days at Princeton. The floor is travertine, the P.E. Guerin taps use rock crystal, and the free-standing Waterworks tub is burnished cast-iron.

The Island Diversified workshop in Calverton, New York, enlarged Sofield’s handmade scale model for the enchanted forest inset, then walked it up the stairs in a single piece. Rather than fake logs, however, the gas fire here dances across a collection of futuristic ceramic spheres and cones.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

Everything in Carla Sozzani’s Home Has a Story, Including Her Cat

The founder of the concept store 10 Corso Como has filled her Milan apartment with treasured pieces collected during her life in fashion.

Article by Laura May Todd

07-TMAG-SOZZANIS-HOME-2Carla Sozzani sits on a Gaetano Pesce Up 5 armchair in her Milan apartment. Photograph by Federico Ciamei.

It was the night the lights went out that Carla Sozzani realised just how influential she’d become. On that day in March 1999 — nine years after founding 10 Corso Como, arguably the world’s first concept store, on an unremarkable thoroughfare on the northern edge of Milan — she was putting the finishing touches on an exhibition in the space when the neighbourhood went dark. “I called the city,” Sozzani recalls, “and they told me, ‘Carla, you’re going to be very happy, the power is off because the construction work has started. Corso Como is going to be a pedestrian street from now on.’” By putting down roots outside of Milan’s centre, Sozzani had forced its fashionable shoppers out of their comfort zone, and like-minded businesses had followed suit. Suddenly, this tract of city was the most exciting place to be.

Nearly 25 years later, Corso Como, the avenue, has evolved into a fashion and nightlife hub against a backdrop of newly erected skyscrapers. “There was a greengrocer there and not much else,” she says of the area when she first arrived. Her plan at the time was to open a gallery that would exhibit the work — including images by photographers like Paolo Roversi, Sarah Moon and David Bailey — that she’d fallen in love with during her 20 years in magazines. (She became the founding editor in chief of Italian Elle in 1987, and after that the director of special editions for Vogue Italia, where her younger sister, Franca Sozzani, was the editor in chief until she died in 2016.) But bit by bit she kept adding on: In 1991, she opened a boutique on the gallery floor selling forward-thinking fashion lines like Maison Martin Margiela, Comme des Garçons and Alaïa; that same year, just upstairs, came a bookstore devoted to art and design; in 1998, she debuted a cafe serving simple Italian food; and in 2003, she took over a stack of apartments in a building across the shop’s courtyard and transformed them into a three-bedroom hotel. Sozzani likes to compare 10 Corso Como to an Italian piazza. “Everything you need is inside,” she explains. “You just need a drawbridge to close yourself in.”

In the living room, a collection of raku ceramic works made by Sozzani’s partner, Kris Ruhs, complement one of his oil paint and metal relief works. Photograph by Federico Ciamei.
One of Sozzani’s two sets of Shiro Kuramata Side One drawers. Photograph by Federico Ciamei.
A vintage Pierre Paulin Ribbon chair in front of a pair of Arne Jacobsen Series 7 chairs from Sozzani’s recent collaboration with Fritz Hansen. Photograph by Federico Ciamei.

From the start, 10 Corso Como’s concept and visual identity have been the joint product of Sozzani and the American artist Kris Ruhs, to whom Sozzani was introduced on a trip to New York in 1989 and who has now been her partner for 31 years (his work was the subject of the gallery’s first exhibition in 1990). Ruhs designed the store’s hand-scrawled logo, and its interiors are filled with his playful sketches, elaborate curtain-like wall hangings made of painted Plexiglas and black-and-white cloudlike paper mobiles. He has also had a hand in shaping the apartment the couple share on a leafy boulevard in northwest Milan.

Sozzani tells me the story of the blackout on a scorching July afternoon while sitting on a grey-and-white Osaka sofa by Pierre Paulin, which is surrounded by piles of art books and exhibition catalogs, in her and Ruhs’s cavernous sitting room. A former 1930s-era office, the home has herringbone parquet floors and bright white walls that are contrasted by a veritable crush of art and objects. When she purchased the U-shaped unit in 1986, Sozzani demolished most of its compact rooms to create a single open living space, punctuated by the occasional load-bearing partition wall. On this day, she is, as always, impeccably dressed, in a pristine white Alaïa shirtdress, pressed black trousers (“Dior, from the Galliano era,” she says) and studded leather sandals, also Alaïa. With a pale, almond-shaped face and a sly grin, her countenance is part Modigliani muse, part manga heroine, and framed by long blond waves tied at the nape of her neck with a velvet ribbon.

The monochromatic kitchen was custom-designed by Ruhs with help from a local carpenter. Photograph by Federico Ciamei.

In the living room, which looks out onto a lush private garden, the walls are covered with Ruhs’s monumental mixed-media reliefs constructed largely from found materials like metal, rope and paper in black and white with the occasional fleck of red or blue. In the adjacent dining area, a glass-topped table with an interlocking carved wooden base of Ruhs’s design sits beneath a cluster of his raku ceramic pendant lights, which resemble bulbous jack-o’-lanterns. And in the hallway, which acts as an informal gallery space leading to the couple’s bedroom and private quarters, there are a spindly black chair, a chrome concave seat and two wavelike plexiglass chaise longues, all made by Ruhs and arranged next to a black-and-white Joe Colombo tube chair. Ruhs even had a carpenter build the kitchen to his specifications, using wooden boards painted in his signature polka dots and loopy hand-drawn forms in lieu of a conventional backsplash.

Sozzani describes her decorating ethos as combining “layers and layers of life.” Thus, the home is also a palimpsest of her long career spent at the nexus of the worlds of fashion, art and design, and nearly everything in it has a story to tell. As we’re talking, a spotted Bengal cat leaps onto the sofa, nuzzles my knuckle and announces herself with a loud meow. “She was Azzedine’s,” Sozzani tells me, referring to the designer Azzedine Alaïa, who was one of her closest friends. “I took her after he passed. She’s named Lola, after [Julian] Schnabel’s daughter,” she adds, pausing to stroke the cat’s skinny tail.

A Roberto Matta Malitte sofa sits in front of a metal and oil paint relief by Ruhs. Photograph by Federico Ciamei.
Sozzani began her career as a magazine editor and keeps piles of books, magazines and exhibition catalogs around the apartment. Photograph by Federico Ciamei.

Many of the furnishings have similarly rich histories. The Pierre Paulin sofa, for example, which she found in the ’90s at the Clignancourt flea market in Paris, is the exact model later re-editions are based on. “Pierre came here in the 1990s to take the measurements,” she recalls of the pioneering French designer, who died in 2009. “His own version had been lost over the years.”

In the ’80s, Sozzani socialised with Ettore Sottsass, the founder of the Italian postmodern design collective the Memphis Group, among whose members she discovered another of her favourite creative talents. “Ettore, his wife Barbara and I spent so many nights together singing and drinking. That’s how I met Shiro Kuramata,” she says, referring to the Japanese industrial designer. She keeps one of his iconic Miss Blanche chairs — a straight-backed armchair, made from clear acrylic resin in which roses are suspended as in amber, that was inspired by the protagonist of Tennessee Williams’s 1947 play “A Streetcar Named Desire” — in her dressing room. “I use it every day,” she says. “When I put my socks on, when I put my shoes on. It reminds me of those times.” She also has a rare Kuramata prototype, an early version of his curvy Side One drawers in rough, unvarnished plywood instead of the usual black-and-white ebonised ash and steel, a set of which she also owns. When Giulio Cappellini, the art director of the Milan-based design firm Cappellini, took over Kuramata’s archive, she tells me, “I convinced him to sell me the original.”

A nylon and oil-painted paper work by Ruhs dominates a living room wall, and is offset by an Arne Jacobsen Series 7 chair. A nylon and oil-painted paper work by Ruhs dominates a living room wall, and is offset by an Arne Jacobsen Series 7 chair. Photograph by Federico Ciamei.

But her first love in furniture will always be the Danish midcentury designer Arne Jacobsen. “His Cylinda tea set was the first piece I collected in the 1970s,” she says of the 1967 stainless steel service, which features a tall cylindrical pot with a spout sprouting from the base like the arm of a Saguaro cactus. “It’s very beautiful, but totally useless.” She went on to amass an army of his fluidly formed chairs (a smooth, curved white Egg chair, designed in 1958, sits in the corner of the living room, offsetting the rough surfaces of Ruhs’s reliefs). “I think the purity of the shapes is what attracts me,” she says. “They’re very sensual. There is nothing forced.” Her zeal for his work even led the Danish design brand Fritz Hansen to enlist Sozzani to collaborate a relaunch of Jacobsen’s bent plywood Series 7 chair last year. Perhaps surprisingly, given the restrained palette of her home, the collection features 16 new colors, ranging from muted pink to forest green, that were inspired by a vibrant storefront Sozzani saw on a trip to India.

These days, though, most of her Jacobsen collection lives at her office at 10 Corso Como where, as our conversation winds down, she plans to return for the remainder of the afternoon. Thirty years after opening its doors, Sozzani is as dedicated to the store as ever and is still planning its expansion. She is currently preparing, for example, to add a space for pop-up design exhibitions, which will open during the Salone del Mobile furniture fair in September, to the already sprawling compound. “10 Corso Como is where I spend most of my time,” she says. “It will always be my first home.”

An Office in Which Screaming Is Encouraged

At the Berlin headquarters of the art magazine Blau International, editor in chief Cornelius Tittel doubles as an instructor of Kundalini yoga classes.

Article by Gisela Williams

24-TMAG-OFFICE-SCREAMING-2Cornelius Tittel leads a Kundalini yoga class in the Berlin office of Blau International, the biannual art magazine he edits. The sculpture behind him is by the German artist Raphaela Vogel. Photography by Felix Brüggemann.

On a Sunday afternoon in January, high-pitched shrieks and deep howls could be heard emanating from an elegant Art Deco building in Berlin’s Charlottenburg neighborhood. Their source was the third-floor office of Blau International, a large-format art magazine whose contributors include the French interiors photographer François Halard, the French fashion stylist Marie Chaix and the German astrologer Alexander von Schlieffen. Published twice a year in English by the German media group Axel Springer and overseen by founding editor in chief Cornelius Tittel, 46, the nine-year-old magazine has recently run such stories as an essay by the Austrian novelist Peter Handke about the 17th-century French artist Nicolas Poussin and one by Tittel himself on the psychedelic work of the young Parisian painter Pol Taburet.

“Now scream as loud as you can, with your whole being,” encouraged Tittel that Sunday, dressed in white and sitting cross-legged at the front of one of the five grand rooms that make up Blau’s headquarters. Almost 40 people, many of them also dressed in white, responded with a cacophony of wails. Someone’s pet Pomeranian began to bark. Making the scene more dramatic still was the room’s décor: two dozen animal skin paintings hung on the walls, which, reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s tinfoil-clad Factory, were covered almost entirely with the silvery Mylar blankets often used by recovering marathon runners. Behind Tittel was a six-foot-high omega-shaped altar made of melted white plastic and finished with two small gnome-like figurines.

The walls of the yoga studio are covered with Mylar blankets and hung with animal skin paintings by Vogel. Photography by Felix Brüggemann.

Was this an editorial meeting? An art happening? It was in fact one of the semiprivate Kundalini yoga and meditation events that Tittel has been hosting for the past year in his magazine’s workplace, attracting some of the better-known figures in Berlin’s art scene — among them the gallerist Philomene Magers of Sprüth Magers and the collector and author Angelika Taschen. Tittel, said Taschen, “manages to combine the best of two complex worlds, art and Kundalini, both of which are connected to our higher selves.”

Beside being the venue for these sessions, which take place each Thursday and on occasional Sundays, and are open to Tittel’s friends and their friends, the Blau office distinguishes itself from other workplaces — even those of art magazines — in different ways, too. Once the private home of the media mogul Axel Springer — whose namesake publishing company has remained one of Germany’s most influential since his death in 1985 — the neglected turn-of-the-century space was turned over to Tittel and his small team in 2015. “When I was asked to take on the project that became Blau, I said I would do it if I could work in beautiful surroundings and not in the main corporate headquarters,” explained Tittel, who was previously the deputy editor of Springer’s Welt Group, the division of publications and businesses related to the daily newspaper Die Welt. (The company’s main campus is across the city in the Mitte neighborhood, on a street named after Springer.)

Tittel became a certified Kundalini yoga teacher during the pandemic. Photography by Felix Brüggemann.
Abstract drawings by the German artist Peppi Bottrop cover the walls of the office’s entrance hall. Photography Felix Brüggemann.
In Tittel’s personal office, the artist Michael Williams’s painting “Do you need it with mustard?” (2012) hangs above a rug reworked by the interior designer Ricky Clifton. Photography by Felix Brüggemann.

Tittel brought in his friend the Berlin-based interior designer Irina Kromayer, and on a relatively small budget they transformed the 2,800-square-foot apartment into a contemporary work space filled with midcentury furniture — some of it left over from Springer’s occupancy — and art by Tittel’s circle of collaborators. The entrance hall, which like all the rooms has honey-colored parquet floors and ornate moldings, is decorated with bold scribbles by the German abstract artist Peppi Bottrop. The ceiling of the grand salon, now used as a library and meeting room, is covered with canvas panels upon which the Czech-German artist Jiri Georg Dokoupil made paintings using colored soap bubbles. (“There was a faded fresco with flying angels there before and it was awful,” said Tittel.) Monumental Plexiglas chandeliers designed by the German American architecture firm Barkow Leibinger and resembling giant clusters of icicles hang in two rooms. And with the last remaining euros of the renovation funds, another friend of Tittel’s, the New York-based interior designer Ricky Clifton, bought a stack of cheap synthetic carpets, cut them into irregular shapes and spray-painted the edges of some in contrasting shades before distributing them throughout the space.

Last spring, Tittel converted the final room, Springer’s onetime bedroom, into a yoga studio, incorporating works by the Berlin-based artist Raphaela Vogel. “I had already purchased some of her animal skin paintings and then I saw a picture of a gate she’d made of white polyurethane, guarded by garden gnomes, and she agreed to lend it to me,” Tittel explained recently over the phone from Munich, where he was helping the German artist Georg Baselitz curate a retrospective of his prints.

The magazine’s library and meeting room, with a fresco-like painting of bubbles by the artist Jiri Georg Dokoupil. Photography by Felix Brüggemann.
A chandelier of laser-cut Plexiglas tubes designed by the architecture firm Barkow Leibinger hangs above a work area. Photography by Felix Brüggemann.
A velvet-upholstered armchair that belonged to the publisher Axel Springer, beside a painting by Robert Janitz. Photography by Felix Brüggemann.

Tittel’s transformation into a teacher of Kundalini — a form of yoga influenced by Tantric practices that emphasizes chanting and repetitive poses said to open the body’s chakras — began at the start of the pandemic. He was going through a breakup with his wife, and a friend, the hotelier and T contributing editor Philomena Schurer Merckoll, suggested he try a class. The experience resonated so deeply with Tittel that two weeks later he started a teacher training course with Panch Nishan, a Berlin-based American practitioner who now occasionally joins Tittel’s sessions. On this particular Sunday, she led the closing meditation, instructing those in the room to “open the lotus flower of your heart,” while Anne Thieltges, another yogi who often assists Tittel, sounded a large gong. At the end of the meditation, Nishan thanked Tittel for fostering this growing community — one that has also informed his work at the magazine. Since taking up yoga, Tittel said, he has experienced some “beautiful chance connections and unexpected opportunities.”

Springer was politically and socially conservative; in the late ’60s his newspaper Bild was protested by thousands of demonstrators following what critics saw as its hostile coverage of the West German student movement. But when asked to imagine what Springer would think of the yoga classes now being held in his former bedroom, Tittel responded that the publishing magnate had esoteric beliefs of his own: He often consulted an astrologer, and at the end of his life he spent time on the Greek island of Patmos to be close to the monastery of St. John the Divine. Tittel added that a few months after he installed Vogel’s works, the office nearly burned down when two of the animal skin paintings, which were covering a lamp, started to smoke. “Not long afterward, the gate sculpture cracked and fell over and I had to have Raphaela come to restore it,” he explained. “She said, ‘I think we’re shaking up some ghosts in here.’”

A portrait of Springer in the library. Photography by Felix Brüggemann.
One of the office’s two Barkow Leibinger chandeliers. Photography by Felix Brüggemann.

In Naples, a 19th-century palace passed down for generations

An elaborate gift from a king to his wife, Villa Lucia has enraptured for decades, and the home’s current inhabitants are continuing the love affair.

Article by Gisela Williams

Naples villaThe neoclassical southern facade that overlooks the Bay of Naples features reliefs depicting mythological scenes. Photography by Allegra Martin.

In the heart of Naples, Italy, a city whose peeling jewel-toned apartment buildings and Baroque churches often call to mind a faded but still glorious opera set, there is a 25-acre private park so lush and tranquil, it feels more like an enchanted woodland. Though it is mostly wild — a tangle of holm oaks, palms and flowering acanthuses intersected by a few winding trails — at its centre is a romantic neoclassical marble fountain carved in the early 1800s. Positioned above a shallow pool, two winged figures — Hymen, the ancient Greek god of marriage ceremonies, and Eros, the mischievous god of carnal desire — gaze at each other over a decorative urn. “Both the stillness of this place and this fountain are so sacred to me,” says the artist and jewellery designer Margherita Marzotto, 32, admiring the work as if for the first time.

But Marzotto, in fact, spent her childhood summers playing hide-and-seek in this garden. The property — which also includes Villa Lucia, a palatial Bourbon-era house — was developed by Ferdinand I, the king of the Two Sicilies, as a home for himself and his new wife, Lucia Migliaccio, the Duchess of Floridia, in 1817. “Their relationship was quite a scandal at the time, partly because they married only two months after the king’s first wife died,” says Marzotto. “And the villa was their love pavilion.” After passing among several subsequent owners, the estate has been in Marzotto’s family for almost a century and has cast a spell over her for as long as she can remember — not least since 2016, when she and her husband, Barthélémy d’Ollone, 41, a French musician and gem hunter, began living in the house for part of each year.

Naples villa
The dining room is decorated with 19th-century frescoes of floral wreaths, birds and fruit. The chairs and ornately carved table are from the 18th century. Photography by Allegra Martin.
Naples villa
The great room of Margherita Marzotto’s family villa in Naples, Italy, features a grand piano made for the king of Naples and a copy of “L’Aurora,” Guido Reni’s 1614 fresco of the Sun Chariot guided by the Hours and Apollo. Photography by Allegra Martin.

Constructed in 1807 and updated by the government minister Cristoforo Saliceti not long after, the structure was built into a steep slope just below the garden, in the city’s hilltop Vomero neighbourhood. Under Ferdinand’s direction, it was transformed by the architect Antonio Niccolini into a grand two-storey manor in which the king and his wife could both escape and entertain. Accordingly, the house has two radically different faces. The fanciful northern facade with views of the park is modelled after that of a Doric temple preserved in the ruins of Pompeii, roughly 30 kilometres southeast. Fronted by five nine-metre-tall fluted columns, its stone and stucco surface is covered with otherworldly frescoes depicting cherubs, angels, swooping red-and-blue birds and mythological creatures. “That one’s a hippocamp,” Marzotto says, pointing to an animal with the upper body of a stallion and the lower body of a fish. “They were said to be the horses of Poseidon.”

The villa’s southern facade is more restrained. Painted pale butter yellow, it is decorated only by a series of stone reliefs set above the seven shuttered French doors that line a narrow upper balcony. A second, wider terrace, bordered by leafy hedges and oleander trees, extends from the ground floor toward the hillside. As we stand there, it is immediately clear why Niccolini made this side of the building relatively unassuming: There was no point in competing with the vista beyond it. Spread out some 180 metres below is the city’s historic harbour, with its medieval fortifications and park-lined waterside avenues and, beyond it, stretching to the horizon, is the Bay of Naples, bookended to the east by the bruised purple slopes of Vesuvius and to the west by the hazy, rugged form of Ischia. “We still marvel at this view every time we’re here,” says d’Ollone.

Much like Naples itself, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, the house is a place where the layers of time seem unusually, tantalisingly porous. In the 16th century, the land on which Villa Lucia now stands was a place of prayer for an order of Benedictine monks; d’Ollone likes to imagine that, before that, it was the site of a pagan temple. “One feels a deep sense of calm here,” he says, adding with a laugh, “it’s the only corner of the world in which Margherita and I don’t argue.”

Naples villa
In the mauve salon, which has views of Capri and Mount Vesuvius, a painting of Marcantonio Trevisan, the doge of Venice from 1553-54, and an 18th-century cabinet depicting a hunting scene with Capodimonte porcelain figurines. Photography by Allegra Martin.

Marzotto’s great-grandfather Italo de Feo, an Italian politician and intellectual, bought the 700-square-metre villa in the 1920s from one of the heirs of the industrialist and art collector Alfonso Garofalo, converting it into a salon of sorts. He changed very little inside, preferring to keep its rooms spare and open. With his death in 1985, the house passed to Marzotto’s maternal grandmother, the late senator and journalist Diana de Feo, who filled it with cosy seating areas and artwork she picked up on her travels, using it as a place to host both fellow dignitaries and family members. And while Marzotto herself grew up on a rural estate outside Venice, she soon became enraptured by Naples. “The energy here is stronger, more dramatic than in the north,” she says. “The city has a wild elegance that has always fascinated me.”

Indeed, it’s these two places — Villa Lucia and Naples — that inspire the fantastical designs of Ollone & Ollone, the fine jewellery house Marzotto founded with d’Ollone and his brother Melchior in 2016. For the last several years, the villa has served as a temporary base for the couple — when they’re not in Naples, they divide their time between Paris and Hong Kong — as well as for their business. It is here that Marzotto, working either at a desk facing the distant island of Capri or at a table on one of the home’s terraces, sketches each numbered piece — whether a gold ring featuring a 10-carat Ethiopian emerald encased in a setting that resembles the centre of a poppy or one with a three-carat neon blue-green Paraíba tourmaline from Brazil embraced by coral-like gold tentacles — before it is handmade by master artisans in Paris, Naples or Bangkok.

At the core of the company is its founders’ dedication to redefining what is truly precious. The d’Ollone brothers began sourcing rare stones from small mines (alexandrite from Russia, Mahenge spinel from Tanzania) 15 years ago, typically selling them to collectors. Not long after Marzotto met d’Ollone in 2014 at a carnival party in Venice, she joined one of the brothers’ trips to Madagascar, where they worked directly with the country’s miners to buy Santa Maria aquamarines at fair prices. The journey inspired Marzotto to make a pendant using one of the stones, whose colour reminded her of the waters around Capri, and gold she’d panned for alongside women from a village in which the group had stayed. She went on to study goldsmithing under Gerard Courcoux, a now-retired master jeweller who often supplied pieces to the king of Thailand, and soon she and the d’Ollones realised that their skills would be best applied producing their own designs — ones that would express Marzotto’s creativity and represent a new form of luxury, defined by respect for the environment and for the work of skilled craftspeople. “How nature creates such a diversity of colours is a miracle. Once you start learning about gemstones, you become obsessed,” says Marzotto, lifting her hand to show me one of the brand’s early pieces, a ring inspired by the story from Greek mythology of the nymph Daphne’s transformation into a tree. At the centre of its delicate gold band — sculpted to resemble unfurling branches — is an 11-carat spessartite stone the colour of an Aperol spritz. “There are also diamonds hidden in its most secret nooks,” she says.

Naples villa
The kitchen is decorated with 19th-century Neapolitan tiles. Photography by Allegra Martin.
Naples villa
In a corner of the primary bedroom, a 19th-century daybed serves as a dog bed. Photography by Allegra Martin.

The promise of unseen treasures defines the villa, as well. The home’s upper level consists almost entirely of two large, connected salons. The first, a more intimate space carpeted with worn Persian rugs, is filled with 18th- and 19th-century furniture (barrel-back wooden armchairs carved with mermaids and upholstered in powder blue silk; a crooked white Murano glass chandelier) that the Marzottos purchased with the house and have kept in the family. The lilac-painted walls are adorned with formal landscape paintings and portraits of European royals (King Charles III, Ferdinand I). Originally intended for entertaining guests, the room is where the couple like to read and work. “This is our TV,” jokes d’Ollone, pointing to an ornate 18th-century carved wooden Neapolitan cabinet set atop a matching table with decorative turned legs. When opened, the cabinet reveals a painted backdrop of a hunting scene and a tiny stage, set with rare porcelain figurines of soldiers on horseback, flute-playing cherubs and wine-pouring women made by the city’s renowned Capodimonte ceramics factory. The piece inspired the design of the brilliant red silk-covered jewellery boxes, each resembling a miniature theatre, in which Ollone & Ollone presents its creations.

The second living room — a grand hall with a grey-and-white terrazzo floor and a copy of the Italian Baroque painter Guido Reni’s majestic 1614 ceiling fresco, “L’Aurora,” which depicts Apollo driving his horse-drawn chariot into the dawn — is divided into multiple seating areas. Across from an ornate 18th-century gilded desk and chair, two long cornflower blue gingham couches face each other over a low wooden table heaped with books, and near one of the French windows is a mahogany grand piano that was made for King Ferdinand. “When my mother was young,” Marzotto says, “this room was almost completely empty except for the piano and a monumental Aubusson tapestry commissioned by the king in the early 1800s and used as a carpet.”

Naples villa
On Marzotto’s worktable, one of her hand-painted jewellery boxes inspired by details of the villa. Photography by Allegra Martin.

The ground floor of the house, reached by a marble staircase lined with prints purchased by Marzotto’s grandmother at a Paris flea market, is more informal. A large bedroom, which features a pair of Napoleonic-era four-poster beds and a bust of Seneca by the late 19th-century sculptor Vincenzo Gemito, overlooks the bay. And two smaller bedrooms, both of which double as libraries, flank a sunny dining room whose walls are painted with a neoclassical mural of pigeons and woodcocks flying amid wreaths and swagged garlands of flowers. In the middle of the space, a large oval wood table, inlaid with onyx, stands near a carved white marble fireplace. The comparatively small kitchen — whose walls and old-fashioned wood cabinets are painted a faded sage green — is down a long, narrow hallway, a remnant of a time when, like those of many grand houses, the room was used only by servants. “At some point, we’d like to have a big kitchen on the top floor where the salons are,” says d’Ollone. “We love to cook and, these days, the kitchen is usually the heart of a house.”

Naples villa
A 19th-century marble statue of Diana, the goddess of the hunt, in the main entrance. Photography by Allegra Martin.
Naples villa
Marzotto and her husband, Barthélémy d’Ollone, in the villa’s garden, in front of the facade that overlooks the Bay of Naples. Photography by Allegra Martin.

For now, though, when he and Marzotto entertain at Villa Lucia, it is generally on one of the terraces. Once a year — typically in spring or fall, when the weather is warm — the couple invite a small group of Ollone & Ollone’s customers and friends to spend several days in Naples, during which the pair take them to places in the city that have inspired their work. The brand’s first collection referenced Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s marble sculpture “Apollo and Daphne” (1622-25), and so Marzotto and d’Ollone organised a treasure hunt that led their guests to Baroque artworks across Naples. The second year, the collection alluded to the sirens that in Homer’s “Odyssey” swim in the Gulf of Naples: The couple arranged a mermaid-themed tour of the area that included a visit to the famous 19th-century mermaid-shaped fountain in the Piazza Sannazaro and a boat trip to the tiny island of Procida. But more than these excursions, it is the intimate alfresco meals at Villa Lucia — when the couple serve local dishes such as ricotta-stuffed zucchini-flower fritters and penne alla Nerano at long, candlelit tables while musicians play their favourite old-school Italian songs — that tend to make an indelible impression on guests. “True luxury is not an expensive dinner at a restaurant,” says d’Ollone as he looks out over the bay from the home’s upper terrace. “It’s the contrast of a wild garden growing in the centre of a busy city or of enjoying the simplest food while looking at this view.”