oday let’s take a trip to faraway lands. Let’s follow the thread of Italian design to the lesser-known China in order to discover how home design culture and a piece of design history entered into a prestigious contemporary villa in Changsha—a place far from the usual touristic itineraries in the land of silk.
Changsha is a metropolis with 6 million inhabitants, the capital of Hunan—a province in southcentral China. It’s not exactly on the other side of the world, but it’s not far off. Made up of ancient pagodas, tenement housing and ambitious architectural projects (from the tallest skyscraper in the world to the Cultural Center of Zaha Hadid Architects), Changsha is a city of mixed cultures that has passed through space and time to get to modern Western design in its most refined expressions. This large villa that embraces bold and simple beauty, made in Italy, is an example of the unstoppable spread and intermingling of different worlds.
The only thing that enters this villa from outdoors is an abundance of light, closing out confusion, as if it were created to be the antithesis of congested city streets with their suffocating spaces. The walls have been reduced to a minimum to let the room breath, and the few decorative elements highlight the space with strong and decisive symbols. The minimalist approach of the interior design accents the few pieces that make up the furnishing.
In the double-height living room—with a marvelous open spiral staircase that goes to the second floor—the compositions of the large and deep sofas (Tufty-Time by Patricia Urquiola for B&B Italia) clearly emerge creating a large island, a hospitable meeting place and welcoming nook.
We are tempted at times to think that a large space is easier to furnish. In reality, to really enhance it, the sensibility of a scenographer is necessary, someone capable of “staging” the pieces. In the dining room there are two lighting icons that provide strong visual impact. Standing out on the walls’ gray background, which blends into the ceiling, are the 2097 pendant lamp designed by Gino Sarfatti in 1958 and the famous Arco by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castigilioni from 1962 (both by Flos).
Opening onto the large dining room, the kitchen is a joyous interplay of cabinets and appliances articulated by functional elements that go around the central island with its snack bar. Papilio chairs by Naoto Fukasawa chairs have been chosen for the family dinner table. Designed in the spirit of lightness and comfort, the famous Japanese designer says, “they have the same shape that relaxation would have if it were represented by an image."
It is certainly not a discovery that harmony and beauty are a universal aesthetic language, a common feeling capable of overcoming any border or cultural barrier and uniting distant and different worlds. The Changsha villa, the villa of design icons as we like to call it, is another confirmation and reason to go on looking for them.
Location: Changsha, China
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Courtesy B&B Italia