Villas

Private and personal

IN A SLEEPY CORNER OF VERSILIA, a CHARMING home owner has surrounded herself with MODERN ART and ICONIC DESIGN PIECES.

Credits

Productions

Paola Moretti

Photographer

Valentina Sommariva

In the airy open space that has been created, natural light is free to flood in in all its glory...

The spacious living area, with its ceiling of trussed beams, is dominated by ceiling lights from the Fun-Mother of Pearl series by Verner Panton (Verpan) and floor lamps from the Akari range designed by Isamu Noguchi (Vitra). Hanging Rhinoceros sculpture by Stefano Bombardieri. Opposite page: owner Elisabetta Avanzini Morandini.

The owner wanted something different from her holiday home, not just a standard villa. After viewing numerous properties, Elisabetta Avanzini Morandini chose a 19th century stone building in the historic town of Verisilia; a former marble workshop converted into an art gallery by the previous owners. The charming wife of a businessman from Lombardy in the North West of Italy, Elisabetta is an art lover, passionate about fashion, painting and – in general – objects with an exclusive appeal. As enthusiastic as she is resourceful, she was personally involved in the renovation and furnishing of the house alongside Giacomo Zenucchi, the owner of a number of interior design showrooms and her trusted advisor. Zenucchi oversaw the building work and installed the various works of art carefully chosen by Elisabetta. Stylist Paola Moretto suggested sourcing sculptural light fittings, in particular the stunning mother of pearl lights by Verner Panton (Verpan) and the rice paper lights by Japanese designer Isamu Noguchi (Vitra). The project is the result of a collaborative effort. While the owner likes to seek advice, she has a clear idea of what she wants: her choices are inspired by an eclectic taste and what appeals to her, but the final decision is the result of balanced consideration and a sense of proportion. “I never go over the top with the design, in order to maintain a sense of minimalism and light,” she explains. This philosophy informs and unites the entire design of the home. Her initial concept centred around the undivided space of the living area, set off by the imposing beams which are over nine meters high, key to creating a space that would convey a sense of uncluttered immensity. This was achieved by knocking down the dividing walls to connect the living and dining areas.

A corner of the living area is connected to the guest area, concealed behind matching walls.

Lounge Chair by Charles & Ray Eames, Vitra. On the wall, on the 1950s shelf, are a scented candle by Fornasetti and bronze hands by Novello Finotti; picture by Ivan Cattaneo.

Opposite page: sculpture by Stefano Bombardieri.

In the airy open space that has been created, natural light is free to flood in in all its glory, defining a volume that is extremely contemporary. From here, an iron staircase leads to the first floor, where the night zone and bedrooms are found, divided by a mezzanine overlooking the lower floor.

The feel is lively and relaxed, expressed in a harmonious minimalist design.

The space is defined by a subtle plaster-effect technique, lighter on the floors than the walls, while the white lime of the trusses brings an intense luminosity to the wooden beams. The finishes are exclusively matt. “I don’t like colour; I prefer white and black, moving through tones of grey”, reflects Elisabetta, who also wanted to be able to juxtapose classic design pieces with works by modern artists. “I like contemporary artists because we inhabit the same world and it’s interesting to see how they interpret it. One of the reasons I love being here is that every stay is a wonderful opportunity to discover new talent”. The result is a modern oasis nestled in the traditions of the Versilia region, an elegant home brought to life by dinner parties and formal receptions, with art and daily life in constant interplay. Guests can sit and relax on Raffles sofas by Vico Magistretti upholstered in the same linen as the curtains, bed coverings and cushions. The iron table is the perfect spot to gather, with its collection of mismatched chairs, different but complimentary: Papilio armchairs by B&B Italia in anthracite fabric, Y’s Chairs by Carl Hansen & Son and Rocking Chairs by Piet Hein Eek. Also present are other iconic pieces by Marc Newson and Tom Dixon, and the king-size seat by Charles & Ray Eames – in the wood and white leather version, with matching pouffe – for a reading nook in the sitting room, and the dresser based on an original design by Gio Ponti in the master bedroom.

Offsetting the collection of ornaments are paintings, sculptures and installations. The first work that caught Elisabetta’s eye, and which was the starting point of the private collection on show in her beautiful retreat, is Rhinoceros by Stefano Bombardieri: a life-size rhinoceros in an ‘aerial’ position. “It truly was a case of love at first sight. I knew at once that it would be ideal for the living area – with its imposing height – and it amused me to think of it suspended in mid-air. It goes perfectly with the steel beams, which become an improvised frame. We’re very fond of it, because it’s the first in my personal series dedicated to up-and-coming artists”. Works by these artists include paintings by Francesco De Prezzo and Ivan Cattaneo, and a piece of wall art by French artist Philippe Deleinsegne, displayed alongside a collection of artwork: compositions by Fornasetti, ceramics by Astier de Villatte, and feminine nest-baskets by artisanal designer Annalisa Cocco which decorate the living room table. The modestly-sized kitchen has been well executed by Boffi by means of a custom-made design crafted in the Cardoso stone typical of the region. The resulting space is functional, well-equipped and completed by a little herb garden. “I love to cook, and the ideal cooking area for me shouldn’t just be about aesthetics, it should also be practical”, Elisabetta concludes. As well as enjoying lovingly-prepared dishes, guests also have the privilege of enjoying the view and the scents of orange, bergamot and lemon from the apartment overlooking the courtyard. And a building offering further accommodation can be found in the citrus grove itself. The feel is lively and relaxed, expressed in a harmonious minimalist design. Sophistication and simplicity go hand in hand, the purity of the design being found in the complete absence of ostentation.

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