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Barbara Ghidoni holds her head high. A direct eye and an acquired taste. A natural elegance this Italian woman tends to develop with her architecture firm Storage Associati. Based in Milan, the agency she runs with her two associates is specialised in fashion – but not only. She also likes working for private individuals. Layout and interior design are obvious to her. Her style, elegant in its simplicity, fed on history. Barbara is deeply in love with the period from the 20s to the 60s, and she plays on shapes like the rationalist architects and cares for details like great masters. A characteristic she likes seeing in Italian traditional furniture people use daily, and which, as a result, can’t lie. She cares about integrity. Actually, this is what first delighted her in her apartment. Though her family was not supposed to stay there. The raw state of the place, recently abandoned by its historical tenant, made her change her mind. Even if she had to do everything in the apartment when she moved in. The interior designer started with the walls, and discovered drawings dating from the 30s. A legacy she proudly displays, from the floor to the doors – also original. According to her, understanding the effect of time on a home is fascinating. The evolution of the materials and transformation of the colours: Barbara takes us to a remote time, far from being frozen because enhanced by modern elements and new volumes.
Barbara, what do you do for a living?
I am an architect based in Milan. My two associates and I mainly work on private individuals’ interiors, boutiques, but also fashion show set design with our agency Storage Associati. We work a lot with fashion, but people and restaurants are the main part of our work.
What was your education in terms of interior design?
First of all, I studied in a school of applied art in my hometown, in Emilia-Romagna, and then I went to Orléans on an Erasmus exchange for one year. Next, I had my architecture degree in Milan.
Is there an emblematic figure who has made you want to do this job?
Art in general has always fascinated me, and trips in foreign cities as well. But when my studies started teaching me about the rationalist great masters, my passion for architecture strengthened. Then it evolved, and I fell for the 40s style. And of course, there are the masters such as Gio Ponti, Jean Prouvé, Carlo Mollino and Mies Van der Rohe. And I must not forget the Italian traditional furniture, daily used by people. These pieces don’t necessarily come from the work of well-known designers, but their details and know-how are very interesting. I’m generally very curious about what surrounds me.
Which period of time inspires you most?
According to me, everything made between the 20s and the 60’s is remarkable.
How did you design your apartment?
This apartment was designed very spontaneously. We loved it at the moment we visited it, but actually it was supposed to be something temporary before the purchase of a new apartment. Time flew, and we stayed here! We liked the integrity of the places, which remained intact, since an old lady has lived here since the 30s. We just took off the wallpaper and uncovered a wall of drawings dating from the 30s as well. I kept the original floor and doors and added bargain-hunted furniture and objects I made myself.
Is it easy to combine family life and nice decoration?
The most difficult is having a well-ordered apartment when you have very young children. But, at the same time, it’s all much more charming when it’s lively (and even chaotic), don’t you think?
Do you have a favourite colour?
I like colours in their nuances, such as the gradation of powdered grey. I’m really interested in the evolution of tints of raw materials, such as brass, iron and cement, which change with time.
With which materials do you like to work most?
Without hesitation, brass! Even if at home I didn’t use it that much. I do in my architecture projects.
What’s the project of your craziest dreams?
A big secluded house, far from the chaos of the cities, where we could welcome friends and strangers. It could be close to the sea and old, with an astonishing style, full of modern elements and new volumes. A sort of peace nobody could break.
Where do you go when you’re looking for a piece of furniture?
I go to yard sales and I keep looking, everywhere around me, even if I travel just for the weekend! But when I don’t find what I’m looking for, I rather like drawing it myself and having it been made.
In Milan, what’s your favourite restaurant?
I’m a fan of a place just next to Milan, called Abbazia di Chiaravalle. It’s a trattoria and a small hotel just in front of a canal. You really feel like you’re in the countryside when you’re just 20 minutes away from Milan.
What’s your next holiday destination?
It will be in Apulia, looking for the masseria of my craziest dreams.
Photography: Constance Gennari – Text: Caroline Balvay @thesocialitefamily