TOn An Italian oasis to call home is on many people’s wish lists. However, few would think of looking for it in Udine, the northeastern city of the lesser-known region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, unless you’re Patrizia Moroso, of course.
Despite the fact that the Italian design scene revolves around Milan, the capital of Lombardy, it was here, 20 km from the Slovenian border, that the Italian furniture designer discovered the hiding place in which she was going to make her home 15 years ago. years. Although she has a long history with the city as it is where her parents founded their design company, Moroso, in the 1950s and where she has worked as an art director since the 1990s, she discovered her sanctuary by chance. “I was pregnant with my third child and my two oldest were terrible and crazy children! I needed a house with a garden so they could live outside, ”recalls Moroso, who lived in an apartment not far from the historic center with her husband, the artist Abdou Salam Gaye, and their growing calf. “One day, I was walking with a friend and I looked over a fence and saw a kind of wild paradise full of plants and trees. I tried to find the owner to see if they sold the place. “
He discovered that he was looking at a 9,000-square-meter piece of land that had been abandoned 20 years earlier. The owner had planned to build a house for his daughter with a large garden. The daughter, however, had ended up elsewhere and the family in general “had said ‘No, thank you,’” Moroso recounts. As it was, the owner had been left with two large parcels and permission to build only one. “So they could never sell it, but for me it was perfect. Why do I need to fill the land with two houses? One is enough. “
He wasted no time buying it and hiring his closest collaborator, architect Patricia Urquiola, to design what would become the home of Moroso’s eternal family. Around the same time, the couple had been on a business trip to Australia, where they had fallen in love with contemporary architecture in the suburbs of Melbourne and Sydney, as well as the mighty Uluru monolith. “The houses in Australia are very minimalist, like metal boxes with many windows, while the colors and details were a fantastic inspiration for us,” he says. “We brought all the details of the trip.”
Since northern Italy is “too humid or too cold” for a metal frame, they designed “a wooden box in the middle of nature” and painted it dark gray to give it a weathered patina effect to suit its environment. All the windows were made of rusty red metal frames, the color of the berries Moroso found in the garden.
Inside, the open-plan two-level space takes shape around textured concrete pillars and structural walls, from which, thanks to the absence of doors, except in the two bathrooms, the rooms are formed as cozy corners of a continuous space. . “I love the architecture and seeing the fundamental structure of the house,” says Moroso.
Underfoot, the hardwood floor meets red resin that runs from the entrance to the four-bedroom property. The latter, Moroso says, is a nod to Senegal’s rich clay soil, where Salam Gaye is from, while the red and white mosaic is an exact copy of his family’s home in Dakar.
That his home has more than one hint of an art gallery curation comes as no surprise given Moroso’s track record. When his parents asked him to return to Udine to help keep the business afloat during the recession-hit 1980s, it was a young Moroso who ignited the company with an era-defining series of collaborations with then little-known artists. and now pioneers. . Together with the likes of his school friend Massimo Iosa Ghini (the founder of the Bolidismo movement), product designer Toshiyuki Kita, and industrial designer Ron Arad, he redefined the Moroso brand identity from basic and clean to bold and experimental.
Pieces of these, and all his past collaborations and collections, are scattered around your home: check out the Misfits purple seating system designed by Arad in 2007; the harlequin leather poufs from the Dew 2009 collection; the Ruff chair in boiled wool designed by Urquiola in 2020; and what should be the highlight, the Memory silver foil chair designed by Kita, made with a particularly resistant type of aluminum that is normally used on construction sites to protect boilers and that maintains its shape.
“I have no distinction between my profession, my ideal home and myself,” he says, “I am totally living it!” She laughs, “If you look at my house, they are all prototypes and samples from that era before production because I love that moment. I love looking at the pieces that are at the beginning of his story. “
Many of the pieces come from his famous and ongoing collection, M’Afrique. The project, which launched with an exhibition featuring pieces from the celebrated photo essay African Cities by longtime Moroso contributor Sir David Adjaye, connects influential designers with local African artisans to celebrate and shine a light on skill and expertise in crafts and architecture that emerge from the continent.
The collection’s original chairs, pedestals and curling tables, woven with plastics commonly used for fishing nets and interpreted by various designers, such as Martino Gamper and Sebastian Herkner, find their place in Moroso’s house.
On the other hand, the 2.5 by 1.4 meter large-scale photographs that Senegalese photographer and reporter Boubacar Touré Mandémory was asked to take for an exhibition now hang on multiple walls.
All these professional keepsakes are complemented by statues and ornaments that the couple have collected on their travels. “I love mixing things that I have from all over the world that tell different stories,” he says. “These objects are like friends, they bring happiness and they are happy to live with me. It’s also nice to see them all talking to each other. “Color, Moroso’s calling card, is everywhere, concentrated in some areas and saturating others.” I always know that the first four of everything we sell will be white and gray. , but I’ll always find someone who loves color like I do. “True to her word, on the first floor she and Urquiola created” a kind of hammam, “a sauna room that is flooded with a myriad of shades of light from the arc. iris depending on where you are, thanks to a 3M filter placed inside the double glazing that appears like a gold mirror from the outside.
Now that the kids have left home, the space is still a sanctuary for Moroso and Salam Gaye, “especially in the summer when the days are longest and I get home around seven, the sunlight is coming in and I see all our beautiful things around us and I say, ‘Oh, such a beautiful place!’ he laughs and adds: “Design is something that helps you live a better life.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism