Milan’s Sforza Castle may not be as well known as its Teatro alla Scala or Duomo, but it is one of the Italian city’s proudest monuments. In the mid-1400s the Duke of Milan, Francesco I Sforza, transformed what were near ruins into one of the most exclusive residences of the Italian Renaissance. A few years later, the restoration was taken further by Francesco’s fourth son, Ludovico il Moro, who enlisted his contemporaries to help him deck it out, including a couple of chaps called Donato Bramante and Leonardo da Vinci. Five centuries on, across the road in the home of former fashion designer Lorenza Bozzoli, history is repeating itself.
The Milan-born artist and interior designer, together with her husband, architect Piergiorgio Fasoli, has just finished a six-month renovation of their mezzanine apartment in front of the castle on the Piazza Castello. They have turned “a boring studio”, as Bozzoli puts it, into a multicoloured Tardis filled with furniture and art.
This is the first apartment the couple have lived in since their son, Fedro, moved out last year. It represents a new beginning all round, says Bozzoli. “We’ve always designed every place we’ve lived in and redone everything, but every time is different. You grow up and have different needs. Before, it was about family; now it’s about us.”
Despite three fantastic windows inviting spectacular views of the castle (curtains have been deliberately eschewed so as to feel “a part of the city”), any trace of tradition stops there. In Bozzoli’s home, every surface has had a vivid, modern makeover. The feel is energetic and experimental. Bozzoli is not afraid of combining contrasting ideas.
In her bedroom, the walls are covered in a palm-print wallpaper by Hermès. Elsewhere, realistic jungle scenes depicted by the wallpaper publisher Ananbo cover the walls; in the bathroom, imported Brazilian marble is contrasted with an aquamarine bidet and toilet; large-scale pieces by the Sicilian abstract expressionist artist Emanuele Diliberto hang in every room. “If you like it, you like it,” Bozzoli laughs.
One of the things she likes the most in her home is the signature fringed pouffes she designed for her eponymous brand, Lorenza Bozzoli Couture, which have become an international hit – “I love that every single one is different,” she says – and the thick-pile carpets designed by Bethan Laura Wood for the Milan-based rug company cc-Tapis. “You must feel comfortable from the moment you enter the house,” she insists, “so everything must be soft and warm. You should never feel cold when you stick your feet out of the bed. I hate cold floors. They take so much energy from the body.”
Where the carpet stops in the kitchen, wood decorated with a geometric Escher pattern takes over. This room, says Bozzoli, “is the opposite” of any kitchen in their previous homes. “The idea was to do something that was as less kitchen as possible – more like an office.” The lights in this room are all Bozzoli’s own designs for Tato Italia, while the table is by Simone Bonanni for Mingardo surrounded by Gio Ponti’s iconic 699 Superleggera chairs for Cassina. The backsplash has been rendered in convex ceramic tiles by the award-winning designers Rombini and the double-height cabinets housing the couple’s glassware were designed by Piergiorgio (the Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck figurines that sit on top of them were picked up by Bozzoli in a flea market 20 years ago. “They follow me around,” she says, smiling.)
However office-inspired, this is a space that allows Bozzoli to indulge her love of cooking (“I’m a real Italian lady, I cook tons,” she laughs) and entertaining. “We love being sociable,” she says. “This is a house that is always open. People pass by to say hello or to have an aperitif or stay for dinner. Friends are always coming and going. During Salone del Mobile, we usually have about 200 creative friends from all over the world – although that, of course, didn’t happen this year.”
In keeping with the apartment’s art gallery-cum-installation-space feel, clothes are kept in a secret built-in wardrobe in the bedroom, and personal belongings are hidden behind the cherry-wood panelled cupboards in the living room. “I have so many things, you can’t imagine – I’m not a teenager after all,” she says. “All my life I have collected objects, hats, shoes, books – my husband has a ton of music, too, but we like to have as little furniture as possible, so we made these to put everything in.”
The one space where it’s all allowed to hang out is in Bozzoli’s office from where she runs her studio, designing for the likes of Alessi, Dutch furniture company Moooi and lighting specialists Slamp, as well as her own brand. Books, hats, keepsakes and mementoes from her travels are kept in an old wardrobe belonging to her grandfather. It stands beside one of her most prized possessions: a wall-to-wall glass and wood cabinet. “I rescued it from a bread shop years ago. I heard banging and smashing and looked in and saw them destroying all the shop fittings with a hammer, and screamed at them to stop.” It was, sadly, the only one left. “I was almost too late!”