Inside, Adario made only limited structural changes and did not alter the apartment’s L-shape layout. His biggest intervention was to transform it from “a double-corridor borghese situation separating living and service zones” to one with a single hallway linking the rooms. These comprise a small entry foyer; three bedrooms with baths; and, spanning the crook of the L, an imposing enfilade incorporating living, dining, study, and kitchen areas connected by a series of wide marble portals. Though the spaces flow easily into one another, each has a distinctive look, bold with color and brimming with detail. As for original materials, only the marble terrazzo floor tiles in the hallway already existed. Everything else is new. In terms of palette, two materials prevail: walnut and linoleum. Linoleum, one might wonder, in such an elegant environment? “From the 1920s through the ’50s it was used in buildings as a modern material,” Adario explains, citing its application in such 20th-century masterpieces as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Villa Tugendhat in Brno, the Czech Republic, and Piero Portaluppi’s Villa Necchi Campiglio in Milan, the silent co-star of I Am Love, another swoony movie. Later, the architect notes, the material became more utilitarian, losing its figurative sheen: “I wanted to bring it back, but make it look modern.” Ergo linoleum’s pervasive use in the apartment: as two-tone wall-to-wall “rugs” in some rooms; as a brilliant expanse of orange lining a window bay in the otherwise serious hallway; and as rich-toned wall and ceiling coverings in the study and bedrooms. “I’m not afraid of using color,” Adario admits, though he limited his choices to stock hues. When used on walls, ceilings, or built-in bedroom closets, the material is applied as panels framed by thin strips of walnut, “making it more precious.” In fact, the architect refers to such treatment as boiserie. Actual woodwork is entirely walnut. It appears as regular millwork, lining portals and doorways, forming built-in furniture, and paneling ceilings and walls, occasionally in the guise of tambourlike vertical dowels. The characterful wood is also used to frame the apartment’s windows, most notably those on the living quarter’s two extended walls, one facing the Arno, the other overlooking Piazza Santa Maria Soprarno.
Adario had fun with another favorite material: ceramic clay. Collaborating with artist Francesco Ardini, he crafted rosettes and fantastical beetles as door pulls for bedroom closets. More unusual still are the large glossytile panels Ardini made for the kitchen. Using a finger-paintlike technique that Adario compares to “kids drawing on dirty cars,” they depict an 90
Top: Behind the steel-and-marble island, kitchen appliances are concealed by the panels of Francesco Ardini’s ceramic-tile landscape. Bottom, from left: In the second bedroom, linoleum clads the walls and built-in closet, which also has ceramic door handles. The study
end of the living area looks out on the narrow Piazza Santa Maria Soprarno, a block east of the Ponte Vecchio. Opposite: The hallway’s terrazzo marble tile flooring is original to the 1950s building, while the walnut millwork, custom banquette, and marble portals are all new.