Carlotta Fortuna and Marco Brambilla, both architects, have followed different yet complementary paths: broadening her studies to include the visual arts, she now works in textile design, while he is partner in an important firm of architects. We went to visit them in their apartment in Milan, on the top floor of a building from the sixties.
It is like a constantly changing backdrop for us, layers of elements borrowed from Milanese tradition, Scandinavian influences and oriental inspiration.
Close to the window is a large ficus plant that has been in Carlotta’s family for more than 40 years. “Initially, it was in an office at the family company, then it began to grow too tall, it was almost three metres in height so my aunt took it home. In the end she gave it to me and we have put it here, in one of the most light-filled spots in our apartment.
Ficus plants are well known for having leaves that alter in size, shape and position; a tendency to change that they share with those who look after them.
We continue to add, take away and move depending on how the light falls through the big windows: in a certain sense, all our furniture and objects are nomadic.
Each piece has a story to tell, some of it written and some of it yet to be told. Close to a wicker armchair from the fifties stands a large wooden camp bed, old American military issue, a portable bed that was opened up every evening and then folded away into a rucksack at dawn. “In winter we keep it in the lounge, but in summer we move it out onto the terrace and it becomes a sunbed.”
On the upper floor, Marco has created a Japanese-inspired niche for thinking and resting. A trunk of walnut wood leads up here, the same wood the attic is made from. “The very unusual colours of this wood become ever more consistent over time. It was already here when we bought this house, so we decided to keep it and make a feature of it. It lends us a sense of wellbeing.”
There are books everywhere in Carlotta and Marco's home: in the kitchen, the lounge, the study and the bedroom. Their subtle yet widespread presence tells of two curious, passionate people. Many of them are about textiles, yarn production techniques and the psychology of colour.
A passion for textiles and for travel also runs through the many objects made with traditional techniques: from an antique red rug woven on a small hand loom in Uzbekistan, to cushions made using the typically Sardinian pibiones or grain weaving technique.
“We kept the original design of this home but we are forever changing its layout and this has turned into a game.” Convivium kitchen, designed by Antonio Citterio for Arclinea in 2002, becomes a laboratory for ideas. “It is a space for sharing and we chose it entirely in steel because we like how it dialogues with the other materials in our home: from the poured floor to the wooden ceilings, via the glass of the coffee table and windows. It is an eco-friendly, resistant material with a modern look.”
In the kitchen, among pots and pans, ripening fruit and a freshly baked cake, there are two pictures. The first, by Carlotta, is a leaf done in green pigments extracted from plants, painted on an engraved plaster base. “I paint with a turpentine-free oil and the result is an unstable colour that changes again and again over time.”
Art direction: Juma
Photo: Mattia Parodi