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Casa Mollino: on the ever-changing and the perpetual

| Designbest editorial staff


esign aficionados will know Carlo Mollino for several of his furniture designs, by now true icons in their own right; defined by technical precision and a curved silhouette. Certainly, natives of the city of Turin, north west Italy, are brought up to recognise his unique touch in some of the most important modern buildings in their city: Camera di Commercio (the chamber of commerce) and Teatro Regio (the main opera house in Turin), are but a few. However, few know about his private life, passions and inclinations.

Amongst these: father and son, Fulvio and Napoleone Ferrari. They are the custodians of Casa Mollino, his home, or casa del riposo del guerriero (literal Italian for “warrior’s home of rest”) an expression which Mollino often used to describe this place. Throughout the years, this place has remained both private and hidden, just like its resident wanted it to be. In fact, Casa Mollino wasn't a design studio, a workshop and nor an iconic apartment to be featured in architectural publications. Anything but this. In fact, it was, in some way, his isolated refuge where he awaited for death. 

But please don't take it for a dark and sad place: a man such as he, a bon-vivant, both a racing driver and a pilot, an artist, couldn't not choose the radiant path of beauty. Every architectural detail of this apartment was carefully chosen by Mollino, either for its functionality or symbolic value. Organic shapes are everywhere: animals, plants and even the female form, recur in objects and decorations. However, just like in nature, nothing is left to chance and subsequently, this home was the ideal habitat of its resident.

The interior design and overall feel of Casa Mollino are almost surreal: a surrealism, which was the unexpected but inevitable progression of the rationalism, which inspired his earlier work. His style is still rationalist however, by now, his aesthetics have accepted and absorbed a kind of humanist subjectiveness, which for Mollino leads to dynamic tension and change. And it was in this place, where he prepared for the “ultimate transition”.

And it's with passion, the Ferraris, explain all this to us and much more besides. We are spellbound. Then, at the end of a corridor full of photographs and memories, which is like a “Sunset Boulevard”: the last room, his bedroom. Here, a bed which looks like a boat represents the Journey. And a wall plastered with butterflies, tells us one last thing about Mollino's life: it was both light and evanescent.

Casa Mollino is a place full of stories, intimate like a secret hiding place and solemn like a temple, even if profane. Certainly, this place reflects the man who built it, a man who understood the finiteness of life, but who also knew that art and beauty have a chance to be immortal.

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