ON LAKE GARDA, AN ARTIST-DESIGNER TRANSFORMS A FAMILY VILLA INTO A SPECIAL PLACE: A STUDIO THAT IS ALSO AN ESCAPE INTO NATURE. The lapping sound of small waves breaks the silence of the lakefront at Villa Malerba, not far from the picturesque port of Desenzano del Garda. The construction is surrounded by a two-hectare park with age-old trees and an Italian garden studded with Roman statues. The building dates back to the late 1600s – early 1700s. For Giò di Busca, artist and architect, this is a family home. Which he has reinvented. «I wanted a mixture: to keep the historical atmosphere, but to add a more modern touch. The original structure has been left intact, and the modern aspect comes from the addition of many lighting solutions in rooms that were once dark and narrow». He often comes here to relax and work. Every corner of the house has views of the park, encouraging meditation. Everything is there to please the eyes. The main hall with its five-meter ceilings is like a ballroom. «Over the years this space has become an atelier, and it is a very satisfying place to work», the owner says. «I have been painting and drawing since I was seven. It has become indispensable for me. It is not so easy to approach a blank canvas. Painting is energy. An inner voyage». This uncommon studio is decorated with sculpted marble columns (from the Venetian palace of the Duke of Berry), a large antique marble fireplace and chandeliers in crystal and bronze, in the French style. Giovanni Maria Malerba di Busca loves harmony, in the balance between past and present. His work seamlessly shifts from painting to architecture, jewelry to interior design, furniture to lighting fixtures (he works with companies like Colombostile and Laudarte). His creations spring from a desire for unique, original, precious things. They combine the finest materials with excellent craftsmanship. «I want to make sculpture through furniture», Di Busca says. The distinctive trait is great sensitivity in the relationship between volumes and materials. «My apprenticeship was in Paris, with Émile Gilioli, an internationally renowned sculptor», he recalls. «He was a man of impressive stature, with a rather course image. But he made very refined works, of extreme delicacy. As soon as he started to sculpt, he became a totally different person», the artist recalls. «He taught me how to work with metal, steel, and then all the passages that lead from the drawing to the mold, the plaster casting, and then the bronze, at the foundry... A process of fascinating phases». Di Busca has been able to transfer this sensation in the place seen on these pages, where he spends about six months each year. «I was born in this house, and I love this place», he says with a smile. «Here, overlooking the most beautiful lake in Europe, I have all the space I could desire in which to work. This place helps you to regenerate. Cloé and Cora, my two dogs, are in seventh heaven when we come here for a long stay. I like to feed the ducks that come to visit me in the garden, and sometimes they even venture into the studio». At Villa Malerba time flows at a cheerful, relaxed pace: walking or daydreaming in the park, swimming in the pool, taking a spin on the lake with the Riva stored in the boathouse, or admiring the sculptures of the owner in one of the summer pavilions adjacent to the villa, also a place for parties. «I don’t need to go to heaven», Di Busca concludes.