The world of the project investigated through a creative approach in which fantasy counts as much as functional rigor and control in all phases of realization. So since 2006 Fabio Calvi and Paolo Brambilla have been working together on interior architecture (private residences, offices and stores), fittings and product design. A consolidated partnership, thanks to the ability to find the balance of sometimes opposing design visions that become complementary to generate a style that is always unique, appreciated both by professionals and by a wider public.
The working method is the one assimilated by the great masters, Achille Castiglioni in particular, and gives life to concepts in which the idea is a synthesis that makes the sense of the project immediately readable; a subtle irony is the accent chosen to express itself. Color and light, often understood as a single indispensable tool to organize the space, become decorative elements in a pure and graphic sense. The superfluous is not contemplated. In a creative panorama in which trends lead to uniformity of aesthetic sense, the personality of the Calvi Brambilla studio is always expressed by surprise, placing the customer at the center of the story and communicating its products and history with maximum impact.
Fabio Calvi (1969), architect, was a collaborator of Gianfranco Frattini and Ferruccio Laviani, and then opened the studio with Paolo Brambilla (1973), an architect who taught at the Politecnico di Milano and was a Councillor of the Order. Today they work with several brands including: Antonio Lupi, B&B Italia, Ceccotti, Design Holding, Flos, LG Signature Kitchen Suite, Pedrali, Varaschin, Zanotta. They received the Gold Medal of Architecture for the Flos 50 years exhibition; the first prize at the Cassina LC50 competition; the German Design Award for Pedrali in Cologne; the Salone del Mobile Milano Award for the Flos exhibition at Euroluce 2017.
The first European Signature Kitchen Suite showroom opens in Milan, a combination of design and technology under the True To Food philosophy. Tradition and innovation meet in the new space designed by Calvi Brambilla: 1,100 square meters on three levels – ground floor, basement and mezzanine, with 15 windows overlooking Via Manzoni, Via Fatebenefratelli and Piazza Cavour, which invite to dialogue with the outside world, creating a constant relationship with the lively city life. The city also metaphorically enters the interior spaces, rich in elements that pay homage to Milan and its great masters of design.
1) What was the brief proposed by SKS and the major challenges you faced in developing the concept?
The identity of Signature Kitchen is based on the True to food philosophy and is strongly animated by two apparently distant forces: traditional elegance and innovation. Our project therefore works in this field of strength. A nice challenge that we accepted by adding a third theme, closer to the construction of the space: experience, through materials and technical devices. The result is a celebratory space, but usable at the same time.
2) Multifunctional spaces: product showroom, apartment and cooking school. How did you distribute the spaces and integrate the different functions?
The project is divided into three levels of readings that correspond to three scans of the space.
On the ground floor there is “True to Design”, with products decontextualized and shown as in a contemporary art gallery, to which is added an area dedicated to showcooking.
The basament, dedicated to the claim “True to smart”, is atmosphere and technology. Each room appropriates a color with ton sur ton formal choices and architectural ploys.
Finally, the mezzanine is the place where the mother idea is celebrated: True to food. This space is entirely dedicated to the Food Academy and the passion for food.
3) Homage to Milan, pieces by great masters and materials related to the history of the city. Can you tell us what criteria you used to make your choices?
The criterion is certainly instinctive or emotional, if we want: if we think of Milan, the names Achille Castiglioni, Franco Albini, Angelo Mangiarotti, Luigi Caccia Dominioni, Gianfranco Frattini are canonical.
Ours is a reverential tribute, which tells through the memory of the signs that made them famous, but without losing the link with the contemporary. The design that works resists in time, in this sense evoking the symbols of Milanese design is a great comfort zone where every choice is pleasant for the observer.
4) Smart home, between design icons and technological tools. You have proposed an environment that integrates all the functions, how do you think you should design interiors today?
Technology without experience would be mere science fiction. That’s why we believe that space design is still a theme full of opportunities today: the challenge for designers is to put at the center the need for contact, emotion in contact with objects and inventiveness. A comfortable, beautiful and flexible space uses technology as a tool, not as an end.
5) Relationship between place (showroom) and city. How did you design the space and the showcases according to its relationship between interior and exterior in such an important and visible point of the city.
There are fifteen shop windows overlooking the city’s emblematic streets: Via Manzoni, Via Fatebenefratelli and Piazza Cavour. We thought of them keeping in mind the need to invite to dialogue with the outside world, creating a constant relationship with the lively city life. The city itself also metaphorically enters the interior spaces, full of elements that pay homage to Milan and its great masters of design.