The title of today’s post, The Louche Life, may conjure for many a disreputable association, but I intend it in the most complimentary way, in the sense that “louche” signals a seductive hedonism in the realm of the interior as theater for sensory pleasure and delight. If sexy interiors make you squirm, do not proceed further!
Interior design stars and longtime friends and business partners of Dimore Studio, American Britt Moran and Italian Emiliano Salci, recently moved from their 18th-century courtyard apartment on the via Soferino in Milan to an austere 1930’s apartment overlooking the densely wooded park of Palazzo Cicogna, very near to the elegant Villa Necchi designed by Piero Portaluppi in the 1930’s, featured in the 2009 film I Am Love. The modernist constraints of their new apartment encouraged the design duo to embrace a more modern and daring approach than they had in the past. A quality of 1960’s elegance and glamour pervades the richly appointed rooms, layered with an eclectic mix of old and new within an envelope of brilliant and unexpected color combinations. Expressing a disdain for minimalism, Moran and Salci embrace richly layered rooms that combine the best of comfort and elegance with an edge of modern glamour. This approach, for me, is the future of modernism – a soulful antidote to Le Corbusier’s “machine for living”.
Two people – both highly successful designers’ in their fields – instantly came to mind when I laid my eyes upon these rooms: the Yves Saint Laurent and Francois Catroux of the early 1970’s. Their is a seductive, exotic bohemian quality to these rooms that elicit visions of Saint Laurent dressed in his military-inspired khaki shirt with cravet and flared pants accented with a thin belt, and Catroux alongside his wife and Saint Laurent muse, Betty, dressed similarly. In fact, if Saint Laurent were breaking into the fashion scene today this apartment could represent his taste for haute moderne, as did his early love affair with the inventor of the modern interior, Jean-Michel Frank, and his contemporaries. In fact, the owners liken the color of the living and dining room walls to the cinnabar color of YSL’s Opium perfume bottle. Pilar Viladas said it best in an article she wrote for Town & Country: I found its “elegant, low-slung proportions, its rich color scheme, and its air of languid luxury almost cinematic. The blend of sophistication and idiosyncrasy was exactly what I envisioned for T&C’s design coverage”. This is the new face of modernism.
Pods of round modern tables piled with books and personal bibelots float between a sumptuous sofa in the English style by Vico Magistretti and vintage armchairs by Saporiti. The golden latticwork of the heating vents mimics the antique gold of the wooden screen separating the living and dining rooms.
On the library side of the main lounge a reading light by Josef Frank sidles up to a chair designed by Ico Parisi, Gio Ponti and Gianfranco Frattini covered in a fabric designed by Josef Frank.
Britt Moran (left) and Emiliano Salci sitting in front of a vintage wood shelving system signed Osvaldo Borsani are intended to break up the abundance of red in the living room.
A brass-framed three-part mirror designed by Gio Ponti for a dressing room sits atop a vintage desk piled with the owners collection of books, vases and porcelains.
An Orientalist atmosphere pervades the dining area with a 19th-century embroidered silk screen hanging above a credenza topped with Seagrove pottery from Moran’s hometown of Ashboro. Modern round stools surrounding a large lacquered dining table by the 20th-century Italian architect Ignazio Gardella echoes the collection of round tables in the living room. A blue wainscot was carried over from the entrance hall to create interest.
In the dining area adjoining the kitchen Gio Ponti Superleggera chairs surround a table designed by architect Ignazio Gardella displayed with a French faience service. The light comes from a Berlin nightclub; the flowered wallpaper is from Cole & Son.
A tribute to 1930’s Italy, Emiliano Salci’s room is furnished with a chair by Paolo Buffa and a floor lamp by Paavo Tynell set before an Italian 1940’s cabinet.
In the spirit of the 1950’s, Moran’s bedroom features the original retro-glam laminate for the walls, to which he paired a Ponti headboard with integrated shelving.
The glamorous bathroom is a study in gold and reflective surfaces.
Photography by Guido Taroni for an article written by Pilar Viladas for the April, 2015, issue of Town & Country.
Additional photos by Julian Hargreaves were later added from the October, 2015, issue AD France.