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FLORENTINE BRILLIANCE

Bold use of a lowly material on walls, floors and panelling sets this Firenze apartment aglow in burnished jewel tones. Photography MA XIME GAL ATI FOURCADE & L AUR A FANTACUZZI /LIVING INSIDE Words CARLI PHILIP S

These pages, from left The 1934 glass dining table by Pietro Chiesa for FontanaArte is a collector’s item. Exotic 1920s cabinet by Otto Schultz. On the floor, small marble tiles meet with the linoleum floor of the dining room. Looking to the hallway through an arch in green marble sourced from the Alps, grooved walnut panelling in the corridor hides cabinets and doors while a linoleum-covered door glows in the background. Nanna Ditzel teal-coloured fibreglass side table for Oddense Maskinsnedkeri.

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These pages, from left Above the late 18th-century vertical corner table, a pair of artworks by Andrea Sala from Federica Schiavo Gallery echo the curving aspects of the interiors. Vintage Marcel Breuer ‘Cesca’ chairs surround the Pietro Chiesa glass dining table for Fontana Arte on a Moroccan floor rug from the 1950s. On the dining table are ceramics by Salvatore Arancio from the Federica Schiavo Gallery. Pair of mid-century leather armchairs by Ingmar Relling.

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egularly seen as the flooring of choice for public buildings and high-traffic areas, linoleum is a surface not typically associated with luxury. So it was with scepticism that architect Massimo Adario approached the material he had first encountered years earlier on the renovation of an apartment that had originally been built and occupied by a wealthy family. “I had always recognised linoleum in hospitals but never saw it as particularly beautiful,” says the Romebased architect of the cheap but eco-friendly material traditionally used as a basic floor covering. “But I was surprised to see that it was once considered sophisticated, a material of the future,” he says. Learning of Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe’s penchant for linoleum (notably in the latter’s 1930s Villa Tugendhat), Massimo began to rethink the potential use and spectrum of colours it could afford. In the refurbishment of this three-bedroom apartment in Florence, he decided to sweep it across floors, walls, wardrobes and boiserie panelling. Upping the ante, he spilled hues of tangerine orange, olive green, mustard yellow and sea blue throughout. Untouched since the 1950s and owned by one of Italy’s biggest insurance companies until 2009, the 220sqm apartment required significant reorientation, its awkward floor plan unsuitable for modern living. While the entrance remained, the double corridor (one for the owner, one for the help) was a dated division of space and no longer needed. Massimo reorganised the layout, then lined the long, timber-encased central spine in fluted walnut to conceal cupboards and control panels sans hardware to appear flush. On the floor, sleek profiled tiles are an austere contrast. »

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This page A green marble arch runs floor to ceiling, dividing the kitchen (right) from the dining room. A steel tube lamp stands in the kitchen and a wire lamp from the 1970s sits in the dining room. Opposite page, clockwise from top With views over Piazza di Santa Maria Sopr’Arno, this is the more angular of the two living rooms which are divided by the custom sofa with grey cord cushions designed by Massimo. Around a coffee table by Otto Schultz are a pair of side chairs by architect Jan Bocan and two Thonet ‘A283’ bentwood chairs by Adolf Schneck. Vintage ball lights from the 1970s. Ceramic sink from NIC Design in the bathroom. Kitchen island in steel, brass and marble with rounded corners. Concealing a pantry, the cabinet front features an artwork by Francesco Ardini, who used porcelain powder on black tiles to trace the images.

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SPEED READ » Architect Massimo Adario refurbished this 220sqm, three-bedroom Florence apartment, reconfiguring the floor plan and 1950s interiors to make it functional for modern living. » The L-shaped footprint includes two bedrooms and an adjacent kitchen off the central hallway, which Massimo lined in fluted walnut to conceal discreet cupboards with no hardware to appear flush and smooth. » Throughout are rounded motifs with smooth edges and soft curves rimming the flooring, moulded stucco panels of the ceiling and built-in suspended walnut wardrobes. Furniture and fixtures are also soft-edged and textured, with some iconic pieces in Vienna straw. » Collector’s items such as the 1934 crystal table by Pietro Chiesa for FontanaArte and the exotic 1920s cabinet by Otto Schultz sit alongside a custom sofa by Massimo and sculpture by artist Salvatore Arancio. » The material palette includes linoleum in rich, jewel-coloured hues, fern-green marble from the Italian Alps, and lashings of mid-toned timber.

This page, clockwise from above The yellow-tiled main bathroom includes wall-mounted Francesco Ardini bathrobe knobs. Guestroom walls are covered in linoleum and the bespoke bed has a headboard in glossy tubular metal and Vienna straw. The apartment looks out to the Vasari Corridor. Opposite page In the second living area, suspended walnut cupboards sport handmade ceramic handles by Francesco Ardini. Vintage ‘Cesca’ armchair and footrest. Re-upholstered Scandinavian stool from the 1950s. Swedish Modernist floor lamp. Olive-green linoleum on floors and walls. Riccardo Previdi artwork from Francesca Minini Gallery. The African straw mask and camel-shaped tables are travel finds.

« “The preference was not to have specific rooms, but rather closets that are hidden within integrated furniture,” says Massimo. “I try to design furniture made especially for the house. I never leave the walls empty. I like to cover them with materials that make the design more precious and sophisticated.” Popular in the 1950s but dating back to the 19th century, handwoven Vienna straw is used heavily, making a statement on the Jan Bocan-designed side chairs, Adolf Schneck ‘A283’ bentwood chairs for Thonet and Marcel Breuer ‘Cesca’ vintage armchair and footrest. Massimo also created a custom woven sofa backrest in the material, and used it on headboards in the bedrooms. The L-shaped footprint includes two bedrooms and an adjacent kitchen off the central hallway. Acting as a portal from the hallway to the dining room is a giant fern-green marble frame constructed from a single 300kg piece of excavated stone from the northern Italian Alps. The kitchen sits behind, overlooking the large open-plan zone and living area, organised around a 1950s Moroccan rug. Partitioned by a sofa, a secondary living space folds around the corner, where a series of windows enjoy beatific panoramas: the Arno to the north and the Piazza di Santa Maria Sopr’Arno to the east with green hills undulating in the background. From here, ‘secret’ doors incorporated into the wall panels lead to the main bedroom overlooking Via de’ Bardi.

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Oriented around a rather clinical-looking steel island rimmed with brass and inlaid with round-edged marble, Massimo refers to this space as a “kitchen-not-kitchen”, without any exposed amenities. Instead, a storage cupboard is disguised with a site-specific black-tiled artwork by Italian artist Francesco Ardini, who traced elementary drawings of the Ponte Vecchio and the Arno through chalkboardtextured porcelain dust. Ardini was also responsible for the bespoke handles, enamelled in black or an iridescent finish. The surrounding furniture is an inimitable edit of provenance and style. Rare collector’s items such as the 1934 crystal table by Pietro Chiesa for FontanaArte and the exotic 1920s cabinet by Otto Schultz sit alongside a custom sofa by Massimo and sculpture from artist Salvatore Arancio. Impressed throughout are smooth and rounded motifs. Curves rim the flooring, moulded stucco panels of the ceiling and built-in suspended walnut wardrobes. From the rust-coloured ceramic sink in the bathroom to the NIC Design vanity mirror, tubular bedheads, silver cylinders and 1970s ball lamps, furniture and fixtures are also soft-edged. It’s a silhouette inspired by the arches of the Vasari Corridor outside and, just as Massimo intended, a perspective to the past from a very contemporary present. # massimoadario.com

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Massimo Adario Architetto | Belle | December/January '20  

Massimo Adario Architetto | Belle | December/January '20  

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