For Italo Manca, going out without a bow tie and suit jacket would be unthinkable! An “aberration” that would make him, one of the most elegant men in Milan, feel naked, almost illegitimate. The owner of La Libera – a...
“Let your emotions guide you”. That is the philosophy of our host of the day, Guido Taroni. A Milanese photographer who has collaborated with many famous creative people, the thirty-something artist is always enthusiastic ! He adores the work of Piero Fornasetti, and waxes loquacious about the cinematographic beauty of the world around him. From early on, he has been in love with independence, a free spirit shaped by the whimsy of a collector father and an art historian mother on the shores of Lake Como. A family of aesthetes whose legacy is an incredible artistic and cultural heritage. His loft in the picturesque Navigli District is a testament to this, located as it is in a cobblestone courtyard whose spaciousness allows the artist to house a collection of surprising and luxuriant objects. With its metallic structure split by the straight line of an industrial staircase, the space benefits from a ceiling height conducive to creation. A veritable artistic hideaway, museum-like in character, where the young man’s artist friends can display their works beside his own. From his Bohemian life and the travel required by his profession, the poetic Guido retains a hedonism that he endeavours with great care to reproduce at home. Creating surprise, arousing curiosity through colours or via whimsical decorative details–there are so many simple pleasures for this Italian, whose living space is a true reflection of his personality.
Guido, can you introduce yourself ?
My name is Guido and I’m 33 years old. I love life, photography, music, nature, friends, laughing and making people laugh, meals …
Can you tell us about your background ?
I grew up by Lake Como and later studied languages. I’ve always sought independence. That’s why I decided to move to Milan ! After finding accommodation, I was able to gain experience in two photography workshops : Sancassani’s and at my uncle Giovanni Gastel’s. Little by little I managed to win my own clients. I’ve photographed lots of weddings, baptisms and events of all kinds ! My first exhibition, Sogni Sospesia, was held in 2008. I was 21. It was a real “gift from the gods”. After that my vision of my job became a lot clearer. I’d finally found my own way of seeing the world ! It gave me even more courage alongside the desire to experiment by broadening my horizons.
What about your notion of “beauty” ? How did you develop your taste ?
Much of it was from observing and assimilating things I’ve been lucky enough to witness since my birth. My parents love houses, gardens, and art in all its forms ! I believe that growing up surrounded by beauty is very important. In a job like mine it’s undeniably a great help ! Beauty is not just – and necessarily – about expensive things. We can find it anywhere if our eyes and hearts have been taught to see it.
What about your love of photography ?
I believe that it all started with a need to immortalise what, in my eyes, was beautiful and perfect. A few seconds after I press the shutter I feel happier !
Designers, artists : whose work has had an influence on you, on your work ?
I like paintings, music. The surrealism of Renée Magritte, the elegance of Richard Avedon and the imagination of Piero Fornasetti.
How would you define your style ?
What do you notice right away when you arrive somewhere ?
Everything ! Sometimes I feel like I’m living in a film. I have the ability to see all the details very quickly, like a little ant hidden in the corner of a large room.
You’ve visited lavish interiors for your work. Which one marked you the most ?
Umberto Pasti and Stephan Janson’s property in Morocco is one of the places that I liked the most. It’s a paradise on Earth ! Umberto transformed this remote property near Rohuna in northern Morocco into a veritable Garden of Eden. He’s fully committed to protecting the diversity and splendour of the landscapes which have managed to escape uncontrolled modernisation. It’s a unique social and human adventure which is the fruit of an admirable dialogue between a European who’s free from prejudices and the residents of a village with ancestral customs, who stood together despite the obstacles thrown in their path.
Being a photographer is about meeting people. Do you have a memory, an anecdote you’d like to share with us ?
When I was 17, after a year of working for my uncle, I asked him if I could use his studio. To prove myself in a way ! I remember pretending I had a commission from a client to take a still life photograph of a glass. I had to make this object interesting via my photography. Right away, I started to imagine what it might look like. Then I said to myself, “But seeing it this way is my uncle Giovanni’s vision, not mine !” So I asked myself, “What is my vision ?”. I realised that I didn’t have a vision of my own. The next day, I warmly thanked my uncle for the wonderful experience he had unknowingly given me and told him that I had to leave and embark on other adventures. Mine !
Tell us about your apartment. Why this one ?
Even though I’m near the city centre, I feel like I’m living in the countryside, surrounded by artists and artisans. I’m in the Navigli district, the only one in which I have ever lived. Coming from Lake Como, I felt the need to live close to nature. We have two communal gardens that we share with other residents. When the first lockdown happened that helped me tremendously !
How have you furnished and decorated your interior ?
I like a blend of old and modern objects. When things are of a good quality, there’s never a problem ! My house is full of colour. I love colour ! There are numerous collections and souvenirs from work trips or gifts that take me on a trip down memory lane. Every time I look at something, it’s like getting a hug from the person who gave it to me.
What does it say about you ?
That we must live with open hearts ! It’s one of the most beautiful things that I’ve learned and it helps me a lot in my work.
What’s your favourite room ?
I don’t have one ! I love my whole apartment. I have daily rituals that make me experience the totality of the space. I like to move around, following the light of day !
Is there a piece of furniture, accessory, souvenir etc. that you would always move with you and to which you are particularly attached ?
I have objects with very funny stories behind them ! Some even come from my ancestors, from my mother and father’s families. Others I picked up during my travels or in flea markets, my other great passion !
You live in Milan. What are your favourite places in the city ?
What I like about Milan is that it’s not so small it’s provincial but also not so big that you can’t cross the city by bike ! I love the Aquario Civico in Sempione Park, the La Libera restaurant, Stephan Janson’s studio, the I Binari restaurant, the Palazzina Appiani (which my mother restored), the cathedral (which always leaves me speechless and deeply moves me), La Casa Degli Atellani, Villa Necchi Campiglio. Not forgetting the Terrazza Martini, La Scala. I could go on for hours !
Where will we find you this year ?
In terms of travel, it’s tricky. But I had the chance to enjoy a superb work-related trip to Africa just before lockdown. It helped me a lot. When I need to escape it all, I close my eyes and I’m transported there, in the wildest of nature, filled with the most vibrant colours, under the brightest of stars…
Pictures : Constance Gennari – Text : Caroline Balvay @thesocialitefamily