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TRAVELLING ALONG THE COURSE OF TIME IN VILLA NECCHI CAMPIGLIO MILANO

7 July 2017

For those who aren’t familiar with the name, Villa Necchi Campiglio is the house of the Campiglio family, a member of the 20th-century Italian bourgeoisie. The home of three family members and many visiting renowned guests such as princesses and artists; it’s currently a house museum after its donation to the FAI (Fondo Ambiente Italiano). Most of its original furnishing pieces remain, which makes it a marvellous trip back in time.

In opposition to what you might expect from a villa designed in the most popular times of extravagant embellishments, you’re pleasantly surprised by an interior design very revolutionary for the time. Architect Piero Portaluppi developed the structure and spaces in a very modern style, allowing functionality and luxury to coexist in a very effortless way.

Your expectations start to increase as you have a cup of coffee by the pool surrounded by gorgeous poppy flowers and carefully mowed grass field

Then, you commence the tour. The entrance brings you into this big and spacious foyer, there, a flush to the wall hinged door covered with brown alpaca leather strikes the attention. Although it opens the way to the service area of the house (the aim of the architect was to conceal it from the residents and visitors), it isn’t possible to realise that it’s a door at first sight, since it’s in a completeness with the wall.

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As you prepare yourself to discover the house, an astonishing almost full height double leaves sliding door, which runs inside the wall, separates the main hall from the living/game room and library areas, providing privacy when closed and allowing full passage while open.

Walking through the threshold, many details stand out instantly, such as the high ceilings, full height proportioned windows, the use of marble and natural rosewood on the floors, glass bookshelves functioning as showcases for art pieces but also allowing to obtain natural light in a spacious environment.

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These details are the result of the mixture of two architectural styles, since the house was originally built and designed by Italian architect Piero Portaluppi in 1932, who had a very simple and modern approach, focused on maintaining function with the use of high-quality materials, but then was redesigned by Tomaso Buzzi, who adopted Rococo style by introducing rather traditional concepts like niches and opulent marble fireplaces. In any case, the house is famous for the usage of a technology and infrastructure highly ahead of its time.

If you ask what’s the secret to this house’s charm, we can count more than one. But the point which is emphasised by the volunteer “hosts” is how carefully the elements of functionality, privacy, comfort and luxury are treated. The main constant along the design of the spaces is, without a doubt the concealed sliding doors, functioning as providers of privacy and security or being completely invisible, to allow the diverse sections of the house to communicate. The different materials used to coat them such as wood, glass, mirror, leather, embodied fabrics and metal increase their functionality as the most breathtaking piece of a room.

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You can encounter them everywhere; in the living room, the smoking room, the closed terrace-garden, the bedrooms… It is highly popular in the design of this house. Unexpectedly, a couple of them are even used as security doors, “the guardians for the house”.

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If you can stop taking your mind off from the amazement and glamour of the interiors and focus on the reality that most of the furniture is almost 100 years old, you start to question how carefully the materials and designs have been selected. Despite the difference in styles between the two architects, continuity is somehow maintained throughout the house, by sometimes using an image that appeals to your subconscious, for example, the diamond shape that you can notice repeated on ceilings, lamps or window bars, a symbol of the family’s status and wealth.

Despite this visual cohesion, however, it’s not very possible to find a design piece that reflects the taste of both of the architects, except for one item: the doors. In this mixed design environment, an item like sliding doors can adapt to both styles, create a union with the furniture and speak about glamour throughout time.

For anyone currently in Milano or passing by, we strongly recommend to visit this villa in the very heart of the city and be amazed by its charm just like we were.

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