JJ Martin didn’t originally hit it off with Milan. However, it’s worth remembering that 16 years ago, the capital of the Lombardy...
Milan is a mysterious city with a cinematic quality and almost seems to be set in the aspic of another era – the sixties. Some of its buildings are architectural treasures with an extraordinary majesty. Sometimes designed by Gio Ponti, Luigi Caccia Dominioni or Piero Portaluppi – names which have marked the history of the city and also been attached to some of the most beautiful furniture of the twentieth century. The people who really know most about the history of Milanese furniture are the antique dealers. This week, we’ve been to visit Stefano Vitali and admire his home. This young gallery owner, with impeccable taste, mostly displays twentieth century furniture of contemporary design. Whether Italian or French, the pieces that he buys are above all those that he likes, restores and then displays in his gallery. Stefano is an enthusiast. He likes to take his time and make the most of the light in his house, which he shares with his brother and sister. He lives the life of an artist dedicated to his gallery and the pieces that he finds. What he likes about these pieces of furniture are their lines, their elegance and their quality. Whether in his home or in his gallery, he likes mixtures, strong colours and works of art. Enjoy this visit to the home of this enigmatic iconoclast!
Stefano, could you present yourself ?
I’m Stefano Vitali, I live in Milan, the city where I was born and where I work. I was not even 20 years old when I developed a passion for my current job, so I began to study antiques and restoration – for this reason I also lived for a while in London and New York. I’ve had a conservation and restoration workshop since 2004, I opened my own gallery called Avanguardia Antiquaria, an exhibition space for art, antiques and design from the XX century. The gallery is also my home which I share with my 14 year old son, it contains furniture, lighting, art and objects from my collection, recreating a place of research throughout time with an atmosphere that I love.
How long have you lived in this house ?
I was 28 when I moved into this house but I knew it very well already as I grew up in a house just behind this one. I was a friend of the family that used to live here, and sometimes I visited them and played with their children. When the house was put on the market I decided with my two older siblings to pool our money together and buy it, each of us taking one of its three floors. My sister Antonella chose the top floor, my brother Luca who wanted direct access to the garden, picked the ground floor and then I took the first floor, which is the villa’s piano nobile consisting of rooms with a grander proportion and finer details.
What was it that first attracted you to this apartment ?
I was immediately attracted to its structure being a thirties villa and then by all the aged details the house has. It has also a private garden and is located in a particularly green neighbourhood that’s not so far from the centre of Milan – that makes it special!
Where do you spend your time in the house ? Your favourite place ?
I spend most of the time in the living room or in summer time on the terrace overlooking the park and in the garden where I sometimes organize dinners, parties and ping-pong games with friend’s children.
Your latest design crush ?
André Sornay, a highly innovative French furniture designer who counted revered modernists Le Corbusier, Pierre Chareau, and Charlotte Perriand among his contemporaries. Unfortunately he didn’t have the deserved success as he spent his professional life working in Lyon rather than in Paris, the epicentre of early-20th-century style and sophistication.
Did you do the decorating ?
Yes, I did. I really love the strong tones of primary colours as you can clearly see. Being a restorer I enjoy it. I am quite successful in any kind of manual work.
Where did you get your inspiration for your job ? And for your house ?
Probably growing up in a family that was close to art has influenced me.
What is your mood today ? Your spirit ?
At the moment I am quite busy but looking forward to finishing the renovation of a big space under my house which will be used as laboratory and dependence of the gallery.
How would you describe yourself in three words ?
Tasteful, creative, meticulous.
A restaurant you can recommend to us in Milan ?
Aromando Bistrot , via Canonica, and the Fioraio Bianchi Caffè.
Credits : Constance Gennari@thesocialitefamily.com