224 ROOM FOR ART

Living - - English Text -

In the Swiss vil­la­ge of Mor­co­te, a cou­ple of art afi­cio­na­dos ha­ve en­li­ve­ned a sto­ne ho­me’s ma­ny rooms wi­th Nor­dic fur­ni­tu­re, street art and jun­gle wall­pa­per

The lar­ge pain­ting in the li­ving room looks as if it has al­ways been the­re, shoe­hor­ned in, do­wn to the la­st cen­ti­me­tre of spa­ce bet­ween the cei­ling and the floor. But «we al­rea­dy had it», says the ow­ner of the hou­se, «ex­cept that the apart­ment whe­re we we­re be­fo­re had mu­ch big­ger spa­ces, whe­reas this hou­se is a bit of a la­by­rin­th, wi­th lo­ts of rooms, all ve­ry small. When we di­sco­ve­red that the cei­lings would all ha­ve to be re­do­ne, we we­re wor­ried that it wouldn’t fit; wi­th the stan­dards of to­day, the­re’s al­ways so­me ex­tra layer that has to be ad­ded». But in the end, it did fit, and eve­ryo­ne brea­thed a si­gh of re­lief. «It’s by Ka­trin Fri­driks, an Ice­lan­dic friend of ours who li­ves in Pa­ris. It re­pro­du­ces the mag­ma­tic na­tu­re whe­re she grew up, wi­th all the streng­th and mo­ve­ment of her na­ti­ve land». So now the­re it is, han­ging along­si­de the teak chairs by Finn Ju­hl and the yel­low Geor­ge Nel­son so­fa. «We bought tho­se spe­cial­ly for this room, whi­ch we wan­ted to be mo­re mo­dern and a bit mo­re cru­de as com­pa­red to eve­ry­thing el­se», say the pro­prie­tors, a cou­ple of art and de­si­gn en­thu­siasts. Their col­lec­tion ran­ges from Nor­dic fur­ni­tu­re, par­ti­cu­lar­ly of the 50s and 60s, to con­tem­po­ra­ry art. «An­ton was struck by it af­ter he’d seen an Obey ex­hi­bi­tion in Bo­ston and be­gan to col­lect pie­ces of street art. Then I ad­ded the pie­ces that I li­ked», says Bir­git. In the se­quen­ce of le­vels that fol­low the slo­pe of the ground, warm and cool to­nes al­ter­na­te: wall sur­fa­ces fi­ni­shed wi­th jun­gle wall­pa­per and op­ti­cal mo­saics, floor fi­ni­shes ran­ging from vei­ned mar­ble to quar­ry-split sto­ne, oak wood, fit­ted car­pe­ting. Fit­ted car­pe­ting? «Yes. If it was up to me I’d ma­ke a who­le hou­se out of it», lau­ghs their ar­chi­tect Luciano Giorgi, who took ca­re of the re­fur­bish­ment. «But in this ca­se, we’ve li­mi­ted our­sel­ves to the war­dro­be of the ma­ster be­droom», whi­ch is ac­tual­ly a com­ple­te sui­te that in­clu­des an en­ti­re­ly trans­pa­rent sho­wer en­clo­su­re. «For me, it’s fun­da­men­tal to ta­ke de­ci­sions join­tly wi­th the peo­ple who are going to li­ve in the hou­se», he says. «I would feel tied up if I stuck to ju­st one lan­gua­ge. I’ve al­ways been fa­sci­na­ted by ar­chi­tec­ts who ha­ve been able to pro­du­ce buil­dings that are com­ple­te­ly dif­fe­rent one from ano­ther, thanks to thin­king about ar­chi­tec­tu­re in a way that goes beyond theo­ries and ma­ni­fe­stoes». In this ca­se too, the con­cept of dif­fe­ren­ce is cen­tral. «Sin­ce the­re was no­thing that had to be sa­ved, we de­ci­ded to work on the di­scon­ti­nui­ty of the spa­ces». This hou­se is the op­po­si­te of open-plan li­ving: the rooms are se­pa­ra­ted by doors and por­tals whi­ch ma­ke a ve­ry frag­men­ted spa­ce that’s ty­pi­cal of old hou­ses. In a con­ti­nuous mix& mat­ch of co­lours and ma­te­rials, the li­ving area has been thought of as a neu­tral, ab­stract spa­ce. Com­pa­red to all the re­st, it’s a pau­se. «We thought a break was re­qui­red he­re, a grey lim­bo fi­ni­shed in one sin­gle ma­te­rial whe­re the fur­ni­tu­re seems to be floa­ting». The on­ly ex­cep­tion is the chim­ney, whi­ch has been fi­ni­shed in rou­gh pla­ster to gi­ve a hy­per-th­ree-di­men­sio­nal, less de­li­ca­te ef­fect. The kit­chen has the sa­me dark to­nes as the cour­tyard, so as to gi­ve con­ti­nui­ty bet­ween the in­si­de and the ou­tsi­de. Ou­tsi­de, eve­ry­thing has re­mai­ned as it was. The buil­ding is built from sto­ne and still in­clu­des part of the 16th cen­tu­ry ma­son­ry, whi­ch could not be tou­ched. It’s in the cen­tral part of Mor­co­te, one of the mo­st beau­ti­ful small vil­la­ges in Swi­tzer­land. The la­ke is right in front, the moun­tains are all around, and Lugano is 15 mi­nu­tes away by car. «We li­ke the tran­quil­li­ty of this pla­ce» say the ow­ners. «The gar­den lies abo­ve a na­tu­ral spring that ena­bled us to crea­te a spa wi­th a Tur­ki­sh ba­th» Giorgi ex­plains. «It isn’t hea­ted and the­re’s no glass in the win­do­ws. Per­so­nal­ly, I’d ne­ver ha­ve the cou­ra­ge to plun­ge in­to a free­zing open-air tub but they’re Nor­dic and it’s part of their cul­tu­re». Bir­git is Ger­man and An­ton is

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