Living Etc - - HOMES / ETC -

that I chose this as my home. It has an in­tense, di­rect light, like in Paris,’ says Paola Navone, the renowned Ital­ian ar­chi­tect, prod­uct de­signer, in­te­rior dec­o­ra­tor, cu­ra­tor – ba­si­cally, all-round de­sign won­der woman. The light – hard and bright – bounces from the sur­faces and an­gles of this in­cred­i­ble apart­ment; a liv­ing space con­structed be­tween the con­crete breeze-block walls and steel joists of a fac­tory build­ing in the Tor­tona district of Mi­lan.

It’s an un­likely place to set up house – an area filled with me­chan­ics’ work­shops and tatty in­dus­trial build­ings – but it suits Paola’s sen­si­bil­i­ties per­fectly. Her de­sign stu­dio is on the ground floor, a work­shop of ideas where her vi­sion is trans­lated and syn­the­sised by her team. Up­stairs, the home she has been cre­at­ing for more than two years, and re­cently moved into, is a space to dream. It’s a crazy, crowded, cap­ti­vat­ing ex­pres­sion of one woman and her pas­sions, col­lected from ev­ery cor­ner of the globe. When Paola bought the space she was able to add an ex­tra me­tal floor, in­clud­ing a mez­za­nine and ter­races on the side of the build­ing. ‘This en­abled me to have big win­dows to bring in light and en­hance the in­door-out­door con­nec­tion,’ says Paola.

‘Trav­el­ling has be­come my way of breath­ing, think­ing and be­ing,’ she ad­mits. ‘I have a no­madic eye that never stops watch­ing, be­ing sur­prised or link­ing dif­fer­ent el­e­ments.’ At home in her apart­ment, it’s as if she has cu­rated a mu­seum of mem­o­ries and in­spi­ra­tion – basins made from woks bought in Asian mar­kets; a col­lec­tion of French ce­ram­ics; Chi­nese lamp shades; Moroc­can urns; Ital­ian chan­de­liers. In the mix are prod­ucts she has de­signed un­der her own name and for in­ter­na­tional brands – the com­mer­cial, phys­i­cal out­come of her wan­der­lust. She calls it ‘the an­thro­pol­ogy of things’. ‘Com­bin­ing ob­jects is like in­tro­duc­ing a group of peo­ple; you put them in the same room and see what hap­pens. Some­times they be­come friends,’ she says.

For the struc­ture and lay­out of her home, Paola has taken her cue from its lo­ca­tion and used in­dus­trial ma­te­ri­als to in­ter­sect the rec­tan­gu­lar space. The steel mez­za­nine is bolted on to roughly built boxes that house the din­ing room, kitchen and guest room. The liv­ing room and her bed­room are at ei­ther end. Tiled strips and squares, set be­tween cob­bles, de­fine paths and liv­ing ar­eas. A cor­ru­gated me­tal roof roosts on top of the build­ing.

This is a home in­fused with Paola’s pas­sion and spirit, from the oil-drum gar­den at the en­trance to the veg­etable plot on the ter­race. The colours come from a pal­ette that she has made her own – teal and grey, lac­quer red and weedy green. Mo­tifs and ma­te­ri­als re­cur; chairs and che­quer­board floors; peb­bles and polka dots; and painted eyes, look­ing up from ta­bles. ‘I like putting op­po­sites to­gether; big with small, shiny with matt. Dif­fer­ent el­e­ments will cre­ate har­mony or con­trast. And I like im­per­fec­tion,’ she says. That sense of the un­ex­pected is pure Navone. ‘My life has been an un­planned trip, but where I am is home,’ she says, be­fore pick­ing up her pass­port and head­ing out the door again.

See more of Paola’s work at paolanavone.it

Paola Navone’s home is tes­ta­ment to her pas­sion for link­ing dif­fer­ent el­e­ments from around the world.

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