The Italian Design Studio To Know Now
Dressing Room at the (Un)Comfort Zone exhibition, with pieces by Max Ingrand produced by FontanaArte, Paolo Buffa among others. Mazzoleni artworks feature throughout the installation and here, in particular, a pink layered oil painting by Paolo Scheggi dating from 1969. All photographs courtesy of DimoreGallery/Mazzoleni
Why you should visit the DimoreStudio exhibition.
If you want to get a measure of the current mood in interior design – colourful, whimsical, winkingly retro, daringly bold – there’s few better ways to do it at the moment than peruse the schemes of Milan-based practice DimoreStudio. The brainchild of graphic designer Mr Britt Moran and former Cappellini art director Mr Emiliano Salci, the company has garnered much acclaim for its eclectic, pleasingly busy aesthetic since its foundation in 2003, completing some daring schemes for private clients in Milan as well as creating shops and spaces for the likes of Boglioli, Aesop, Maison Kitsuné and Cire Trudon. Now, a bustling office of over 40 employees, it’s a two-pronged operation, offering design services and a range of original furniture under the DimoreStudio name, and mounting exhibitions of contemporary and historical design from its founders’ collections under the aegis of DimoreGallery. Uniting both initiatives is the duo’s love of post-war Italian furniture (which they tend to mix with their own, eclectic designs), busy print textures and, most importantly of all, a bold colour or two.
Left: The dining room containing pieces by Stilnovo, Progetto Non Finito, Osvaldo Borsani, Ignazio Gardella and Gae Aulenti for Poltronova. Right: the living room with works by Agostino Bonalumi, Getulio Alviani, Gabriella Crespi, Goffredo Reggiani, Marcel Breuer and Paul Evans
“I think we always choose an unusual colour that you wouldn’t expect to see in an interior,” says Mr Moran. “But then, when you see it, you think, ‘Oh, I like that.’ A strong colour becomes a neutral choice for us, and we tend to use it throughout a space – that’s how we keep things uniform.”
This September, DimoreGallery is coming to London as the first participant in a new initiative from Mayfair’s Mazzoleni gallery. Mazzoleni Invites is an annual event launched to coincide with the London Design Festival (16-24 September). The event will ask teams from fashion, design and architecture to respond to the gallery’s extensive collection of 20th century art. For this first project, DimoreGallery has created an installation it calls (Un)Comfort Zone – a series of five fully dressed rooms built within the gallery space, which visitors can observe through gold-rimmed peepholes. “We liked the idea of the visitor just peeping in on someone’s life,” says Mr Moran. “Also, the idea of making it a little bit architectural. We wanted to play with the design and the space.”
Left: the bathroom containing pieces by BBPR, Carlo Scarpa produced by Venini Murano, and Gio Ponti for Ideal Standard. It also features a silkscreen on polished super mirror stainless steel by Pistoletto and a black Burri cellotex from 1970. Right: the bedroom with pieces by Venini, Gino Sarfatti for Seguso Arteluce and Paul Evans. The room also presents a 1989 acrylic on canvas by Victor Vasarelyand a large-scale steel Alviani, Rilievi Speculari a Elementi (1968).
In each room, DimoreGallery has brought together a cornucopia of intriguing 20th century furniture pieces – from mirrored brutalist consoles and screens by Mr Paul Evans to imposing lighting by Ms Gabriella Crespi to, most hilariously, a mustard yellow toilet designed by Mr Gio Ponti – which offset and complement key artworks from the Mazzoleni archive from the likes of Messrs Paolo Scheggi, Agostino Bonalumi, Alighiero Boetti and Michelangelo Pistoletto. Adding to the voyeuristic, and almost cinematic feel, Messrs Moran and Salci have dressed the spaces with various telling props that tell stories about these spaces’ potential occupants. A half-finished pack of prescription pain killers in the dressing room hints, says Mr Moran at “a party girl who’s gone a bit overboard.” In the bedroom, there’s a cut-throat razor lying open on the bed. The dining room blares with a TV showing a cult Italian movie. As visitors walk around the space, they will also hear snatches of vintage Italian pop music, because, says Mr Moran “You have to stimulate all five senses.”
“The idea was to make it ironic and unpretentious, because we are dealing with very fine art, but we wanted to play on that and create these little lived-in spaces,” says Mr Moran. “You make up who you think has lived in them and what you think they’ve done… Emiliano wanted to push the limit.”
Mazzoleni Invites: DimoreGallery | (Un)Comfort Zone, is at Mazzoleni, 27 Albemarle Street, London from 5 to 24 September