When tapped to refashion an apartment in Milan for a professional pair working in the arts sector, designer Gema Gutiérrez, founder of Madrid-based practice Puntofilipino, clearly had a lot of fun. The now dashing abode – given the working title Memphis Milano – is a little bit “radical, funny and outrageous,” she says. But this isn’t the first time the name Memphis Milano has echoed through these streets. It’s the same moniker that was given to Italian design and architecture set, The Memphis Group.
Founded in 1980 by legendary design pioneer Ettore Sottsass, the future-focused Memphians were responsible for bringing unmissable colour, decoration and energy to the ’80s. They defined a post-modern look, creating everything from furniture and lighting to carpets and fabrics over a prolific seven-year period.
Memphis Milano apartment in Italy by Puntofilipino
Living up to its title and the legacy it carries, the renovated apartment by Puntofilipino masterfully merges traditional Milanese influences – think arched windows and doorways, intricate cornices and, of course, romantic street views – with the effervescent stylings of the Memphis movement.
An eclectic sequence of colour and pattern, stretching from the walls to a harmonious selection of furniture, is inspired – specifically – by the Art Deco designs and Pop Art of the era. “Not only for the striking primary colours, synthetic materials such as laminate and terrazzo and crazy geometry,” Gema says. “But also for its iconoclastic cheekiness!”
The hero of the fit-out is arguably the dining room, where a large table with chubby blue legs and a paper-thin top is enveloped by a canopy of trees, courtesy of floor-to-ceiling wallpaper. The painterly scene is only interrupted by block-colour furnishings and large internal archways whose jambs are patterned with the natural swirling of marble. While the mesmerising marble shoots off into other rooms, the classic bucolic imagery continues into the neighbouring living room.
Following the marble pattern along the hallway and into the kitchen, a flair for drama unfolds – perhaps a throwback to Gema’s background in theatre set design and events. A fluted terracotta dado rail divides the wall treatments: marble along the bottom and two-tone burgundy brick tiles up top. Slatted joinery anchors the utilities, simply and strikingly.
Psychedelic moments continue to reveal themselves in the bedroom and bathroom, where high-octane ‘feature walls’ are far from taboo. Rather, they join the chorus of design flourishes that bring together the past and the future. “In order to bridge the aesthetic dichotomy between period interiors and contemporary expanse, the apartment stands out as a whimsical rebuke to the minimalist aesthetic and elegant austerity of mid-century modernism,” Gema concludes.
Living up to its title and the legacy it carries, the apartment masterfully merges traditional Milanese influences with the effervescent stylings of the Memphis Group.
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