“To make the table, it takes wood. To make wood, it takes a tree. To make the tree it takes a seed ". We don't want to rely solely on easy quotes - the genius of Gianni Rodari; the voice of Sergio Endrigo; a fairy tale not only for children, one that we all still know how to hum – but the truth is that in many cases you really do need a flower.
A semi-central area of a Milan that knows how to be elegant and neighbourly, a tree-lined street that follows an imaginative line between the old and the new world, acknowledging modern buildings that are reflected in the Pirelli Tower and early twentieth century houses that, in their decorations and wrought iron, certify that European taste has also grown on these walls. Not far away, Umberto Boccioni painted himself on the balcony of his house while fields and meadows still stretched out behind him. Today the area is alive, full of shops, artisanal pastry shops, markets and smiles. From the upper floors you can see all of this and be dazzled by it, while the sunlight delicately filters through the windows, creating new and unexpected chromatic elements.
But we said you need wood, and in an apartment that, at the time of purchase, lacked nothing but personalisation and love, there was a lot of it. Fewer walls, more flexible elements, custom-made furnishings and the work of artisans still in love with their work. A living room made of colour and brightness, where vintage wood is expressed in a 1960s salvaged bookcase; in a much-desired bay window, surrounded by windows overlooking the street; in a clear wall-bookcase hiding the doors which transform the study into a room for guests. Yellow doors, like the sound of a trumpet, volcanic, impossible not to notice. The colours communicate with us and with each other, as the yellow meets the red of the library at the entrance, a mysterious birth from the simultaneous tendency to move away and ascend yellow and blue - Vasily Kandinsky would have said.
It’s impossible to forget the green. Sage or deep - that of the green Alpine marble. The kitchen and dining room allow themselves stable values: those of the green, the integrity of the marble in the kitchen top, the dignity of the bamboo in the wallpaper that defines the dining room, and a small wedding favour satisfied with itself on evenings with friends. Parquet wood floors brought back to life, the colour of ad-hoc concrete tiles, still playing between white and sage green, with elements of blue, turquoise, beige and grey notes, while, like a treasure hunt, strips are lost in the entire surface of different colours, because you are never too old to play.
Green returns to the bathrooms, this time combined with pink and a curved form: geometric figures and colour allow one to enter into oneself, to relate, to overcome the limits of a room, a destination, a definition. One last detail that is the common thread of the apartment and of an idea of harmony that is still alive: the arch, the doors, the bookcase, the rounded, soft, voluptuous objects, of a lamp inscribed in design history books, which has function and is not simply a pure decorative object. And if a parenthesis delicately illuminates the bedroom, following a flawless luminous line you take the road back to the entrance.
Someone could indicate other destinations, other routes, cancel a route already taken or tell us that "all the roads here are mine", but we know that the world of wonders is still possible, in the choices we allow ourselves to make, in not being afraid to trust tastes and preferences, in personalisation, and in thinking that perhaps a home is not forever, but it is rather the memory of the home we hold that is forever.
ATOMAA was recently interviewed by the European web platform "New Generations". The discussion covers topics such as the relationship between our work methodology and the approach towards our designs, and even our creative work environment.
"Even if the organisation of time in contemporary project processes are often frenetic, we practice the ‘Resistenza’: we take the time to discuss ongoing projects in a slow and calm manner and then make calculated decisions and even work by hand.."
" We build models to study details; we use freehand sketches to help us reason and develop ideas; we use mood boards of real material samples, which is simply irreplaceable."
New Generations is a European platform that investigates the changes in the architectural profession ever since the economic crisis of 2008. They analyse the most innovative emerging practices at the European level, providing a new space for the exchange of knowledge and confrontation, theory, and production.
"Lively, surprising, full of personality: these three adjectives are the essence of Wunderkammer, a Milanese apartment in the Piola area where the magic is revealed in the details."
Elisa Zagaria, Elle Decor
"What makes the layout dynamic and interesting is the way in which the rooms, all different in size and finish, interact with each other, by virtue of "secret passages" which we had fun hiding in the fixed furniture elements set in the walls."
ATOMAA would not exist without the valuable collaboration with professionals, colleagues and even friends, all of whom leave an important trace in the realisation of our vision. Every person who joins our team, is not only valued as a highly skilled and talented collaborator, but is valued as an individual; as someone who becomes part of the writing of our narrative.
For the design of a prestigious apartment in Milan, the tiles of a new stone floor were designed and handmade by Venetian craftsmen. The challenge for these artisans was to create a floor tile which expressed the unique disorder found on site during demolition. Inserts of Thassos marble, irregularly positioned according to a rule, within a bed of white cement and Carrara marble chips, aims to recreate the image of the wooden laths which served as substructure for the original parquet floor.
Carlo Scarpa, Fondazione Showroom Olivetti, Venezia, 1957-58
In a world overwhelmed with digital development, we often find ourselves detached from the tactile experience, with only visual stimulation left to fulfil our aesthetic desires. At ATOMAA, we value the relationship between people and the materials which surround us. We believe that, with the careful selection of materials and with a hands-on approach during the production process, we can bring people back to the tactile world. Working with local artisans, we aim to bring praise to handcraft as a means of creating the narrative for each material we use.
Our material choices greatly depend on the project in question and remain sensitive and contextual while playing an integral role in defining the spaces we create. This focus on materiality has become a fundamental area of focus for us at ATOMAA and is one which allows us to bring people and architecture together.
"Baroque stuccos and designer chairs, sowing floors and metal handrails: Asabesi and Atomaa rewrite the rules of the Italian design office." Rita Salerno, Elle Decor
"The project builds, through the design of all the oak furnishings, a series of (cor) correspondences between all the elements (mezzanines, stairs, bookcases, containers) going mainly to work on the perimeters, according to a principle of mutual necessity. " Asabesi, ATOMAA
The timber structure of the roof is complete and clad with local stone. The roof is composed of locally sourced traditional materials and building techniques. The stone tiled roof is very common in Val d‘Ossola and forms part of the vernacular architecture of the region. We believe that building and innovating should go hand-in-hand with tradition, and it is only then that the architecture seems to sit naturally in its context.
“The living area is divided into three different areas, one with fixed cupboards, one with sliding and tilting elements and one furnished unit. A high degree of flexibility allows the home to change depending on the time of the day and the use of natural light as well as the desired purpose of the individuals units.”
Work in progress in the countryside near Pistoia. The brick facade, paying homage to rural buildings in the area, is now complete. The facade is a tool to control privacy, ventilation, natural light and obtain open views to the landscape, without unnecessarily reinventing a ‘tried and tested’ solution. The decision was to make use of vernacular materials, building techniques and technologies of buildings present in the area.
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