Tour a brutal home in Milan with links to Ettore Sottsass | Architectural Digest

Given the latest residential project of architect Luca Cipelletti in Milan, it is impossible not to notice two more names on the door: Nathalie Du Pasquier and George Snowden. The designers (husband and wife) were founding members of the radical design movement of the 1980s, the Memphis Group. When Cipelletti first set foot in the windowless L-shaped attic space of the Porta Nuova Building, which he had been set to restore, the door was named after the movement’s founding father, Ettore Sottsass, and co-founder Marco Zanini.

“They were the first extremes,” says Sebiletti, known for their reckless use of shapes and colors that defy notions of good taste. As a teenager in Milan in the 1980s, Cipelletti saw several of their first shows and decades later, he was designing the 2006 Sottsass exhibition in Tokyo as well as the 2021 reconstruction of Sottsass’s interior, Casa Lana, at La Triennale Museum, in Milan. “They didn’t always need to think of a job. This freedom helped me a lot in some way.”

But if you thought this apartment was a stark homage to radical Italian design, think again. Cipelletti is a different kind of insanity, he insists, “in my obsessive compulsive disorder — it’s more intense. It’s about deleting things.” He likes to use the word millimeter to describe his work. Indeed, this project is as detail-oriented as it comes. The table tops are cut at 45 degree angles to give it a subtle look. Marble is matched with books on the floors and walls to look like one large sheath. A line drawing, like guitar frets, runs horizontally across the apartment from ceiling to walls, across bookshelves and onto floors with almost painful precision.

The 400 sq m L-shaped volume had tall sloping ceilings, but no natural light, so to make it more habitable, Cipelletti made a series of slits in the front, side and roof to create windows and skylights and added about 100 sq m of balcony (Planted by landscape architect Derek Castiglioni) right behind it. Everything balances out on asymmetrical stucco-covered columns that repeat every 36 metres, for an effect that is, in the words of Sibeliti, “a bit neo-Gothic and brutal”.

“We wanted to add a plush layer” to tone down the brutal elements, Cipelletti explains. The walls and floors were covered with canaletto nuts. The primary bathroom is encased in more than 17,000 pounds of forest green marble and the powder room is enveloped in Brazilian fossil marble. Around the house, Cipelletti installed panels of his portrait on a Venetian mirror, which gets its smoke-reflecting quality from layers of oxidation applied to stainless steel. His client, an art collector, brought along a fine collection of photography, but little else, leaving it up to Cipelletti to orchestrate a mixture of art and subtle furniture that would complement the appeal of both architecture and portraits. Galleries, auctions, and cloth-clad Cipelletti shops to find prized 20th-century treasures like the Franco Albini rocking chair, Gio Ponti desk and dining chairs, and a stunning bright pink vase by Carlo Scarpa. Some pieces hint at the house’s radical Italian roots, such as two totem sculptures by Alessandro Mendini and, perhaps most clearly, a set of ten Vistosi glassware by Sottsass, completely hung at auction.

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