He is the grandson of one of the biggest names in Italian design, the great Osvaldo Borsani known for his functional furniture of the 50s and being part of the generation of Gio Ponti, Lucio Fontana and other stars of Italian architecture and design at the time, no less. Tommaso has inherited this artistic vein in creating his own architectural and furniture studio. He owes his talent to his education but also his experiences worldwide. A charming, thoroughly Milanaise man, he welcomed us in Milan to his apartment where works of his grandfather stand alongside his more personal and contemporary designs.
Tommaso, could you present yourself ?
I’m Tommaso, nice to meet you.
Who are you ?
Technically an architect, which is a very comprehensive definition and sometimes can be very disorientating. Otherwise I’m very happy about it, it allows you to express yourself in so many different directions.
Was your childhood linked to you taste for décor ?
I would say that experience is something you definitely learn but taste is more personal. There are plenty of self-taught valid talents around, but in my case childhood was really an experience. My parents and grandfather are all architects and worked in product design all their lives and because they were working all the time I spent long childhood days at the factory (Tecno) between about 8 and 16. I was very curious so I was bothering craftsman and designers all the time asking how and why… I remember they telling me I was worse than my parents! But taste is a different thing, it comes from inside, and evolves.
Tell me about your relationship with your grand father, Borsani ?
I was very young when he died. I have flashes of him buying me ice cream or Panini stickers for my album, napping after lunch and of course at the factory where he spent all his time. Mostly I remember his voice, it was strong, deep and gentle at the same time. You would definitely listen to him. He was a very complex and talented figure and did so many things, he was always listening to opinions but finally following his determination. Thanks to my parents and because we are organising a retrospective to open next year in Milan I’m still studying him…
Does he give you the passion for architecture ? for design ?
I decided to pursue architecture long time after he died and I went studying and working abroad for 15 years, 11 of these with Norman Foster so I suppose my conscious formation happened really far from home. Now that I’m back and opened my practise TOMOARCHITECTS. I feel very familiar with what I experienced back in the days even if I don’t recall specific memories. Yes he gives me a lot of passion though what I read and hear, and I try to play his voice in my mind.
How long have you been living in this apartment ?
I moved in last Christmas, now that everything is almost into position, it is time to look for a new space!
What attracted you right away ?
The space was big and completely empty, a great blank page to exercise on.
Where do you spend the most time at home ?
It is really one space so the nice thing is that I really use it all. At the same time I often joke that I sleep in the kitchen.
How did you plan the apartment in terms of decoration ?
Even though I try to be very neat because I’m maniac, I cannot avoid to accumulate stuff. In all my trips I always left light and moved back with boxes.. In the blank page days which are always the most exciting ones, the idea of the big library came up first, then everything else around it. Friends that I take in great consideration where questioning my plans asking how could I use all that library. Once it was up, it was full in 1 week and many realised what I had in mind. Always listen but ultimately always follow your idea!
Which artist influences you the most ?
Probably not very original but Lucio Fontana was a good friend of Borsani so he is by far the one I know better through family memories, and I’m also very sympatethic with his experience.
The cheapest piece of which you are the most proud ?
A green painting of a woman with a basket on her head I got in a village on Lake Malawi, very impressive colours also because the author was probably 14yo. Amazing.
Your next holiday destination ?
Always my favourite, the Aegean.
The most recent restaurant you would recommend in Milan or elsewhere ?
One of the best qualities of Milan is the great number of traditional good Trattorie, but my favourite is always La Libera, I really feel home there.
Credits : Constance Gennari @thesocialitefamily