I always think the project I am working on will be the best. -Patricia Urquiola (born in 1961, Spanish by birth, Italian by choice)
We always try to find homes to stay in versus hotels or vacation rentals because we want to live where locals live, eat where locals eat and shop where the local’s shop. It is our priority because we are not on vacation but rather we are creating home wherever we land for as long as we stay.
After searching on-line for a local experience off the tourist path in Lake Como to no avail, we asked our friend Andrea Frua De Angel at Officina 360. We rented his family home in Tuscany in 2015 and wondered if he knew of anyone with a property that we could call home for the month of October in the Italian Lakes Region. Thanks to him we found Piazzola – a family home that opened its doors to us and forever changed our definition of home. Piazzola was built in the 1950s on the shores of Lake Como with the historic stone boathouse pilings as its foundation.
The term mid-century modern wasn’t coined until decades after Piazzola was built and new generations became interested in the movement. The term refers to a period in architectural history between 1947 and 1957. The distinguishing features of this style consist of a classic, understated look, and clean lines with minimal fuss, specifically:
- Minimal ornamentation.
Balance of design precision and warmth that comes from handmade quality.
Uncluttered and sleek lines with both organic and geometric forms.
Functionality is important, as form follows function.
An exploration of different traditional as well as non-traditional materials.
The juxtaposition of different, and sometimes contrasting materials.
New materials such as plastic and lucite used for its own qualities rather than to imitate wooden furniture.
A vast range of colors, including colors from neutral to bold, and graphic use of black and white.
Looking at the neighboring neo-classical villas surrounding Lake Como, it is clear that building in the mid-century modern style, before the term was even coined, was an intentional design dedicated to both tradition and progress.
After a few days of living in Piazzola, we ventured to the hotel next door called Il Sereno. The award-winning architect, Patricia Urquiola, followed many of the mid-century guidelines with an ultra-modern aesthetic.
Piazzola and Il Sereno, both original to their era, forward-thinking with respect for tradition, and quietly adorning, yet with a proud air, the shores of the infamous Lake Como, left us forever changed by their beauty and grace.
Here is our best attempt at capturing our time in both spaces, Piazzola a testament to the lasting effects of intentional design and Il Sereno, a testament to bringing mid-century into the present and beyond. Both structures were welcoming, inspiring, individualist, and visionary as we hope you will see by the side-by-side gallery below accented with quotes from some of the leaders of the mid-century architectural movement in Italy.
Gio Ponti – 1891-1979 Italian architect, industrial designer, artist, and publisher.
“The architect must imagine for each window, a person at the sill, for each door a person passing through.”
“Everything is going form the heavy to the light. From the gross to the subtle. From the opaque to the transparent, from the dark to the light, form the colorless to the color from the fragmentary to the unitary from the complicated to the linear.”
“Enchantment is a useless thing but as indispensable as bread.”
Achille Castiglioni 1918-2002 Italian Designer of furniture and lighting.
“Delete, delete, delete, and at the end find the core aspect of the design.”
“Design demands observation. If you are not curious, forget it.”
Bruno Munari – 1907-1998 Italian artist, designer, and inventor.
“To complicate is easy. To simplify is difficult.”
“A designer is a planner with an aesthetic sense”
“An object should be judged by whether it has form consistent with its use.”
Carlo Scarpa – 1906- 1978 Italian architect famous for ingenious glass and furniture design.
“If the architecture is any good, a person who looks and listens will feel its good effects without noticing.”
As we prepared to move out of Piazzola and on to our next adventure, it left us with a question: What are the creative movements of today that are yet to be named? We are truly humbled to have lived in a house that inspires such questions.