BUSINESS & PLEASURE
Right in the heart of Rome, a bright and airy loft-style apartment is both home and studio to top Italian design firm Lazzarini Pickering.
sydney-raised Carl Pickering and Rome native Claudio Lazzarini, partners in work and life, launched their architectural and design practice Lazzarini Pickering in 1982. Based in Rome, with a second practice recently opened in Milan, the duo are behind projects that range from Fendi boutiques in Rome, London and Paris to villas in England, Scotland and the Amalfi Coast. In Australia, they are best known for designing Bondi’s iconic Icebergs Dining Room and Bar. Here, Pickering talks about their charming, loft-like 19th-century apartment in Rome, where they live and work. It’s rare to be able to live in a regenerated industrial sector so close to the historical heart of a city like Rome. We’re in Trastevere, a former medieval working-class neighbourhood, in what used to be a 19th-century soap factory, now divided in half, with our loft-style apartment on one side, the office on the other. It’s known as a casa e bottega — akin to an artisan living above the shop — and thankfully, all we had to do was clean it up and paint it white. Finding it was a gift from my mother, guided from above.
When my mother came to stay with us for a few months every year, she’d say, “You both work too hard — you need to get an apartment with a terrace, you need a barbecue and a herb garden,
and you need a dog.” The only thing we’re missing now is the dog. She died the year before we found this space, so I really do think this came to us through her. The American artist Cy Twombly once lived next door.
It’s an area where a number of famous American artists lived in the 1960s and ’70s. You can see the intricately patterned tiled terrace Cy Twombly created from my office window — the delicate and complicated way the lines don’t quite meet up perfectly and then disappear off at unexpected angles is quite beautiful. Our art collection comprises mainly young Italian artists.
Well, some are quite old now but they were young when we bought them. It’s a really quirky collection, not about names but about works, which can talk to one another. We’re drawn to artists such as Emanuele Becheri, Paolo Canevari (Marina Abramović’s former husband) and Lucio Pozzi. There are some Australians, too, like Paul Ferman, Louise Tuckwell and China de la Vega. Rearranging the art is always fun.
We change them around because we keep buying things — some move to the office, some go into storage. There’s something exciting that comes from modifying the balance of things — we like change; it’s the spirit of our work and life. ››
‹‹ We’re big fans of Ikea. In our hallway is what we call our little temple to Ikea — banks of minimalist white storage, where our trick is to make them look like custom pieces by taking the fronts and putting them on the sides to look like custom joinery. We’ve even done whole apartments of Ikea for the kids of billionaire clients. All the order is thanks to Claudio — it’s not part of my DNA.
It’s why I’ve been relegated to the little room at the top of the office — they can just close the door on my mess! For the bookshelves (Ikea once again), Claudio has divided our collection of art and design books, along with a large collection of books inherited from his father, first into themes and then into binder colours. People think it’s an installation by [British artist] Rachel Whiteread! We’re disciplined about working next door to where we live.
We find it dilates time — we can quickly come home and stir the bolognese for 15 minutes or on a Sunday, we can go next door and work for three hours, with all our books laid out in front of us. We’ve had most of our furniture for decades.
Claudio convinced his parents to buy the Mario Bellini Camaleonda modular sofa, an early C&B Italia design (before it became B&B Italia), in the mid-’60s — it’s been in all our houses, teamed with a Tiwi Islander fabric my parents gave Claudio for Christmas in 1985. It’s 32 years old and still looks pretty good. We’ve had the 22 classic Verner Panton chairs for 15 years, which, when combined with four white Eames chairs, means we can do dinners for 26. We love those chairs because they’re stackable, easily cleaned and can be used outdoors. We also have a 12-piece collection of archive custom pieces in production under Marta Sala Editions — we’ve always designed our own pieces because clients don’t want the same sofa as 15,000 other people around the world. We love to entertain.
Last year, we had a dinner for Gilbert & George, to coincide with the premiere of the restored version of their 1981 film, The World of Gilbert & George, at the Rome Film Festival. It was the most incredible thing watching the caterers serve 100 people fresh tagliatelle with ragù, all from our tiny kitchen. Sometimes it’s easy to take for granted such a great space.
Every time we come back from a holiday, we walk in and think, This isn’t too bad. Or even after the most horrible day at work, when we really hate each other, we step through the door that divides office and home, and we’re instantly happy. VL Visit lazzarinipickering.com