The apartment of Luisa and Luca Vitali is situated in a grand townhouse shared with Luca’s sister and brother. A family acquisition that allowed them to live all together, even if they each prefer sticking to their own floor! The first floor was chosen by the couple, who prefer direct access to the garden. A haven of greenery which can be appreciated a few minutes away from the center of Milano and the Officina Antiquaria, the antiquarian’s very own gallery. In the interior, the two esthetes manage to combine passion and profession. A particular exercise that they joyfully conduct, and where they display their mastery of audacious associations and strong color schemes. The result of a very personal perspective on art and design, further enriched by years of experience in the restoration of ancient pieces of furniture and exceptional works of art.
Luisa, Luca: would you introduce yourselves, please?
I’m an art director and graphic designer. I studied in Milan with AG Fronzoni, the master of minimalism, at the Bottega di Perfezionamento. My first job was at Vogue Italia. Next, I moved to London to work for World of Interiors magazine and then opened my studio www.jaquesvanzo.com, which still keeps me busy between London and Milan. London has always been a source of inspiration because there is a great design culture. I love the British eclecticism in interiors!
I’m an antique dealer specialising in the 20th century, owner of the Officina Antiquaria gallery in Milan, located in Via Maroncelli, opposite the Trattoria della Pesa and the Fondazione Feltrinelli. My career began while I was studying fine art at Sotheby’s in London. Then I trained in antique restoration in Milan. I have a real passion for preserving the past. I like to give new life to old objects and furniture, which is why I have always had a “laboratory” where I restore my own collection and take on restoration for others!
Tell us about your education in beauty. How did your ‘taste’ develop?
Our meeting was magical. We are both passionate about beautiful things and have opened each other’s minds in different ways, which has influenced our respective tastes.
I was more interested in contemporary art, graphic art and Scandinavian design, while Luca taught me, for example, about antiques and Art Deco.
We are both passionate about beautiful things and have opened each other's minds in different ways, which has influenced our respective tastes.
How do you, in turn, make your daughter aware of aesthetics?
Sole is steeped in our aesthetic. She has always been surrounded by a lot of “weird stuff” and has hardly ever seen white walls at home! She has always been very careful when moving around our home. We make a special effort to let Sole choose some toys or clothes that we consider “kitsch”, as she should have some freedom to build her own vision of beauty.
Designers, artists: whose work has had a particular influence on you and your work?
Kasimir Malevitch, Felice Casorati, Gio Ponti, Guglielmo Ulrich and Josef Hoffmann.
I love women artists! Especially those from Eastern Europe, from Eva Kot’átková to Lucia Tallová, whom I collect. But also Eduarda Emilia Maino, known as Dadamaino. And I also like Gio Ponti, but I like Alvaar Alto and Le Corbusier, too.
Do you have a preference for a particular style or era?
The first half of the 1900s!
Tell us the story of how you came across this apartment.
Luca bought the villa with his brothers and sisters in the 1990s. They each have a floor. This is a most unusual situation for Milan; having a garden is very special! Over time, we’ve transformed the space into what you see now. The family has grown – Luca has a 17-year-old son, Giovanni, and when Sole was born, we acquired the space downstairs where the children’s bedrooms are now – and so has the space.
How did you design and furnish it?
We kept the ground floor plan as it was originally, so we have a large living room, a large bedroom and a decent sized kitchen. We played a lot with the colour of the walls in each room. And every object we own has a story, whether it was found on a trip to Morocco or in an antique fair in France (we love travelling to French antique fairs: Avignon, Montpellier, Bézier are some of our favourites) or on a trip to Antwerp, a city we both love. When we took over the space downstairs, we designed everything ourselves. The staircase, the cupboard wall inspired by Malevich, the portholes. We wanted something that would be fun for Sole, but it had to be functional so that all our stuff (my clothes and shoes) would fit! (Laughter)
What does this place say about you?
I think our house says a lot about us and our commitment not to compromise on a simpler way of life. We are complex human beings, and this is obviously reflected in the way we live and the choices we make.
Which room do you feel most comfortable in?
I feel comfortable in every room!
I like the studio because it’s quieter.
You live in Milan. What are your favourite places to visit there?
We love Vasiliki Kouzina, a contemporary Greek restaurant that we designed for our Greek friend Vasiliki Pierrakea. We feel comfortable there, and the food is excellent! We really like La Trattoria della Pesa and Da Berti, as far as classic Milanese food is concerned. There are so many places… from Fioraio Bianchi for an aperitif to Lubar for a light lunch. As for the best pastry shops in the city, they are at Marchesi in Corso Magenta. The neighbouring restaurant, La Brisa, has a lovely garden for summer days.
Where will we see you in the coming months?
We’ll be in Venice soon! We have a little house there near Campo Santo Stefano. Luca has a boat, which makes the experience of the city – which we both love – unique. I had forgotten, but he took a restoration and inlay course on the island of San Servolo several years ago. We both share a passion for Venetian glass. The first week of December, we will be in Finland, in Helsinki for dinner at the Savoy and a visit to Alvar Aalto’s studio and apartment, and then in Lapland, on a reindeer-drawn sleigh!
Photography: Constance Gennari – Text: Caroline Balvay @thesocialitefamily