The creative head of Dimorestudio transformed his home into an atmospheric nest with theatrical flair.
Last spring, Emiliano Salci, the creative force behind the Milan-based design and architecture firm Dimorestudio, was left temporarily stranded. He had just sold the apartment he owned with Britt Moran, his partner in Dimorestudio, having amicably agreed to live separately for the first time since they got together in the mid-1990s. Just as the pandemic was hitting Milan, Salci moved and found himself immersed in a gut renovation. “It felt strange striving to get my flat finished at that moment,” he says. All he could do was dive headfirst—and hands on—into what he describes as the most personal of all his projects: the creation, under duress, of his new home—a place where he could weather the storm.
Stepping into Salci’s apartment is like entering a cinematic interior that fuses together the smoky, urban exoticism of Arthur Geiger’s house in The Big Sleep with the modernist precision of a Luca Guadagnino movie set. The compact space is situated on the ground floor of a late-1940s building block near Piazza Risorgimento, a stylishly bohemian area replete with up-and-coming art galleries, cafés, and restaurants; Salci’s home looks onto a back garden filled with palm trees and other exotic plants. As you walk into the hallway, painted a ripe orange, and onto the leopard carpet by Dimoremilano, Salci and Moran’s home-furnishings brand, you are enveloped by a nocturnal ambience of saturated colors and dimmed lighting. “I wanted the relaxed atmosphere of an evening retreat,” the designer explains.
The hallway opens onto the apartment’s main living area, where an oval mahogany table by the American modernist George Nelson converses with a pair of armchairs by Piero Portaluppi, the architect behind the Villa Necchi Campiglio, the 1930s Milanese gem. Seated on a velvet sectional, Salci recalls months of lockdown when he had to use the only resources available to him: cans of paint, beautifully textured fabrics from Dimoremilano, and his own trove of vintage furniture and memorabilia. “When we started Dimorestudio in 2003, the design culture in Milan was dominated by minimalism,” he observes. “From the very start, our work, though far from being traditional, was open to reminiscences from the past.”
The walls of the living room are painted a deep maroon, the windows draped with a fine gauze that cuts the sunlight. Windows and door fixtures are varnished black. In a seating area, a bookshelf by the Rationalist architect Giulio Zappa is filled with coffee-table books and a collection of Chinese vases. These, together with the Turkish rug, are the only bright elements in a space ruled by muted colors.
There are playful touches, too. The designer’s extensive collection of clothes (GQ Italia recently included Salci on its list of best-dressed men) occupies an entire room. His wardrobes, which line all four walls, are hung ceiling to floor in shiny purple satin, like a Houdini magic theater set.