As with each of our encounters, with Böjte-Bottari it all started with a case of love at first sight. It was above all a visual attraction. A form, a material. Maison & Objet 2017. The Riflessi vase. A sculptural...
The Salone del Mobile is fast approaching and their names are already being whispered all over Milan. Fabio Calvi and Paolo Brambilla are the force behind the most beautiful stands of the day. With their studio, Calvi Brambilla, founded in 2006, each succeeding year produces new triumphs. Invitations that are always very different in their own way, monumental commitments like the mineral island unit designed for Flos in 2017. A creation awarded the exhibition prize that recognises the talent of hard-working designers. Although design houses from across the world are queuing up for them for the creation and scenography of their different spaces, Fabio Calvi and Paolo Brambilla haven’t lost sight of their first loves: product design and vintage. A combination that they have brought to life in their own home and in their own way with the cults of the fifties and the great masters being ever-present. Thus, each room has something to say, whether it’s an original work or one of their own designs which will often be named after the artist to whom it pays homage, as is the case with the Ettore table, which reveals Calvi Brambilla‘s love for Sottsass. And when the detail is not in the name of the object, it is quite simply in the use and design of it. This is the case with the heavy orange metallic curtains that are used to divide the space. Something that Gio Ponti used to do and that the two decided to have identically reproduced by one of the few remaining Italian manufacturers still producing them. Calvi Brambilla – OCD? If need be. At least, that’s something we’ll be trying to find out between now and 30 April when we go to the 100 x 100 Achille. The exhibition – for which they are providing the installations – dedicated to the centenary of Achille Castiglioni, another inspirational figure to whom they owe so much.
Fabio, Paolo, could you tell us who you are?
We are both architects, but we had the opportunity to work mainly in product and exhibition design and we love it.
How did your Calvi Brambilla venture start?
Fabio used to work on his own, but just after one year he got the chance to get in touch with a big client so he asked me to help him. At the time I was working in a big architecture studio but I was ready to jump right in.
What is your favourite thing about your job?
Everything, even if it takes a lot of energies.
Has any particular exhibition, piece, or designer made a particularly profound mark on you?
We both are quite enthusiastic about the Italian way to design, and some of our products are tributes to great masters of the past: it’s the case of Ettore, a table we designed for Pianca, that proves our love for Sottsass. Recently we were so glad when they asked us to design the set up for an exhibition to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Achille Castiglioni, because we learned a lot from him.
If you had to define it, how would you describe your style?
It is the result of the clash of two very different personalities.
Have you used this style in the design of this apartment?
We didn’t want to follow a style, it came by itself.
How did you come up with the concept for the space?
We like the elegant milanese buildings of the Fifties and Sixties, with their amazing enterways and their accurate details. When we found the right one for us, we decided to emphasize the light that comes through the big window of the living room with dark walls and dark ceilings: it could sound inconsistent but it works.
Where is it is located? – Why did you choose this area?
After many years at Isola, a cosy but busy neighborhood, we moved to a quieter place. Most of all, we wanted an apartment at a floor high enough to see the mountains in the distance: when you live in Milan, sometimes you forget to be so close to the Alps.
We collect a lot of objects by designers of the past that now populate every corner of our apartment.
Do you have an object at home that you are especially fond of? Something that follows you everywhere you go?
We collect a lot of objects by designers of the past that now populate every corner of our apartment. Each one of these objects has a story behind, so it would be hard to choose just one piece.
Could you give us some details of must-see places and destinations in Milan?
The most impressive is the rooftop of the Duomo: a sort of sloping terrace surrounded by pinnacles, with a terrific view of the city. Climb up there in the light of the sunset and you’ll have a different perception of Milan.
Everyone who is interested in architecture should take time to visit some modern masterpieces by Ponti, Caccia Dominioni or Mangiarotti: you can find them all by checking on the website Ordinearchitetti.mi.it. And don’t forget to have a drink at the Mono or at the Pause.
Tell us about your plans for 2018 – upcoming projects, news, and so on.
Photography: Constance Gennari – Text: Caroline Balvay – Translation: TextMaster @thesocialitefamily