[June 20 2017]
Founded in the 1930s, Molteni&C is a leading Italian designer furniture company. Combining technological innovation with a solid heritage allows Molteni&C to produce high-quality, creative pieces of Italian-made furniture.
Purple is delighted to announce this special new project with the Milanese design house. Olivier Zahm follows Molteni&C around the world, photographing these exquisite pieces in intimate settings – the homes of contemporary artists and fashion personalities.
The project will of course start in Italy, a stone’s throw from the Molteni&C headquarters. The first story features the talented MSGM fashion designer, Massimo Giorgetti, who welcomes us into his home – an extraordinary, brutalist Milanese apartment. It was here that Olivier Zahm shot him with three stunning furniture pieces: the ‘TEOREMA’ chest of drawers designed by Ron Gilad; the ‘D.154.2’ and the ‘D.153.1’ armchairs designed by Gio Ponti.
FRANCESCA MOLTENI — Ciao Massimo, you have a beautiful apartment!
MASSIMO GIORGETTI — Thank you for saying it, I share this apartment with my partner.
FRANCESCA MOLTENI — It’s in the city centre.
MASSIMO GIORGETTI — Now it’s the centre. I like to think that when it was built in 1968 it was in the outskirts of Milan.
FRANCESCA MOLTENI — This building really breaks with the traditional Milan architecture, it doesn’t look like we are in Milan.
MASSIMO GIORGETTI — When it was built it was really shocking for Milan and its people. It was the first, and one of few example of Brutalist buildings of the city. It’s all about cement, exposed brick, reinforced concrete and iron. I felt in love with it straight away, this was three years ago.
FRANCESCA MOLTENI — What does your house represent to you?
MASSIMO GIORGETTI — Well, I am my house. I don’t live alone, so it’s me but it’s also my partner. We chose it together and furnished some of it together, even if he does not know much about design, colours, texture, so the furniture has more to do with my passions and my aesthetics.
My home is my private life, it’s what I feel and what I experience, it’s also part of my aesthetic vision beyond clothes, bags and shoes. At home I don’t have to sell anything or convince anyone and I don’t have to earn money.
And there’s also Pane, my Jack Russell. He’s not here today unfortunately, he’s at the office, he’s the office’s mascot.
It’s our home: it’s mine, my partner Mattia’s and Pane’s. I actually rather invest money into my house than in everything else because when you get a designer piece, a work of art, you are not spending money, you are investing in a beautiful object. To me it’s not just about buying artworks, these pieces represent beauty.
FRANCESCA MOLTENI — You are sitting on an armchair designed by Gio Ponti right now.
MASSIMO GIORGETTI — Yes. I’m sitting on a piece of the history of Italian design; this armchair is also called the “Love Seat”. It’s an honour. I’ve always been interested in Italian design, Gio Ponti, Borsani and all that school of masters we had in Italy. I like to say that this is a dream come true for me: having this house, having these objects, these artworks. I don’t give anything for granted, nothing was given to me for free, everything is an achievement.
I think we actually enjoy things more when we have worked hard to get them. They represent our efforts. Everything can achieve a greater value, that’s all. My house is the result of sacrifices, of many difficult moments, and it’s also the result of how determined and stubborn I’ve been since I was a kid.
FRANCESCA MOLTENI — Did you decorate it all by yourself?
MASSIMO GIORGETTI — Well, It has been a joint effort with the architect Massimiliano Locatelli who was my last master. I got to know many things thanks to him. And afterwards, once the basics were done and the house was finished, I chose the finishing touches and the colours, many things came later on. For example I discovered this Kvadrat on magazines, with this beautiful range of colours, these canvases and wools… this is when I started having fun. My passion for colours is represented in this house: there’s violet with lemon yellow, there’s powder pink with coffee, there’s shocking rose pink with orange, there’s this black floor which resets everything: this led us to disagreements at the beginning.
FRANCESCA MOLTENI — Do you have a piece of art you are particularly fond of?
MASSIMO GIORGETTI — This is like asking who’s your favorite child! It’s very hard to pick one. This Brian Calvin here is one of my favourites. Also, the Alighiero Boetti was a recent dream that came true. The meaning of Boetti’s tapestry is beautiful, basically if you read it says “for new desires”. I don’t want to focus on a consumerist point of view, but I think that when you make a dream come true it’s nice if you have another one straight away, it’s a kind of healthy ambition and competition. I don’t consider it to be a negative aspect; it’s innate to the human being. When you reach a goal you just set another one for yourself. Same thing with desires.
After the Gio Ponti’s chair it could be a plant, I mean it could even be just a plant. A cactus for example. Plants are very important in this house because I think they give us a sense of life, they somehow make the difference from a museum or a shop. Nowadays plants are also in shops, but shops seem to be more and more aseptic, they are not warm and welcoming. At home plants and flowers must be used to warm the space up. One thing I didn’t want was a cold house, one of those museum-houses full of designer objects. My house is full of things, which are not designer items, and I think this is very important. There are many pieces, chairs, coffee tables, tables that we got at antique fairs and that are not designer pieces but have their own history.
FRANCESCA MOLTENI — When do you get your best ideas?
MASSIMO GIORGETTI — Well unfortunately I get my best ideas on Sunday afternoons. I say unfortunately because Sunday afternoon is usually the moment I take some time for myself. It can be at home in winter or at the seaside in the summer, even on holiday, it’s Sunday afternoon when my brain is free from phone calls, emails… and I start thinking about everything that happened to me and what I saw, I read magazines, go to museums, often I read books. It’s on Sunday afternoons that I start taking notes and screenshots, so Monday mornings at the office are bit of a nightmare for my team … I often can’t resist and even on Sunday night I start sending messages and emails.
FRANCESCA MOLTENI — And is there a particular space in the house you like the most?
MASSIMO GIORGETTI — Yes. This house has a magic place: the bow-window. A small lounge without walls is a glass box overlooking Milan.
It’s strange because since we moved here, even if the house is big, everyone wants to stay in the bow-window. We started with aperitifs in the bow-window, small parties. We even had a dinner for 20 people in the bow-window, but it’s actually a lounge for four.
It was the same year we moved in, I organized a small dinner with my colleagues from the office, there were 15 people, then others came along. In the end there were about 20, we had a catering and we all ate in the bow window, holding our plates in our hands. I realized it was a place that attracted energy and I must say it is the area we live the most.
FRANCESCA MOLTENI — Where do you get your best ideas?
MASSIMO GIORGETTI — Well, I get my best ideas in the bow-window, let’s be honest about it. Basically weekends and bow-window.
FRANCESCA MOLTENI —Do you prefer Open spaces or separate rooms?
MASSIMO GIORGETTI — I prefer separate rooms because I think open spaces are a bit too chaotic. Three years ago I made my office at MSGM an open space, but it’s too chaotic. It’s chaotic for work, but also for private life and homes. I prefer separate rooms and separate bedrooms.
FRANCESCA MOLTENI — So is your house a shelter or a place to share with others?
MASSIMO GIORGETTI — A house is both. I like to share it because I am a generous person and I like sharing what I have with friends. But sometimes it’s also a shelter. During stressful times, a home must comfort you.
FRANCESCA MOLTENI — Are you more confortable in big or small places?
MASSIMO GIORGETTI — I remember the small apartment I had when I was 20, only two rooms, but it had to be warm and welcoming, I had to consider passing winters in there, but I also imagined being there in summer. Houses have to be functional in every season.
There are houses which are beautiful in the summer and others which are beautiful in the wintertime. The house where you live all year round must be functional all year round, this is very important. It can also be an apartment or a studio flat, but this aspect has to be considered.
FRANCESCA MOLTENI — Design and fashion, do they have some common aspects?
MASSIMO GIORGETTI — I think they are basically the same thing. The creative process is very similar, decision-making is very similar, it’s all about choosing silhouettes, shapes, colours, textures, materials. I believe developing a brand in these fields is also very similar. It’s about the vision you have, your aesthetics and how you can translate this into a chair, an armchair, a bookshelf, or how you can translate it into a dress, a collection of suits, shoes or handbags. A beautiful chair and a beautiful shoe are actually the same to me. I have often bought women’s items, shoes or handbags, not for myself, but just because they were designer objects, so at this point it makes no difference to me. Maybe there was never a difference, that’s what I believe.
FRANCESCA MOLTENI — Bath tub or shower?
MASSIMO GIORGETTI — Shower, absolutely. I don’t have a bath tub at home. I think that nowadays having a bath tub is real luxury, it’s beautiful, but I prefer a shower. I wake up in the morning and have a quick shower. I often even have two showers a day. I go for the shower, big-time.
FRANCESCA MOLTENI — Do you cook for yourself at home?
MASSIMO GIORGETTI — I do but honestly not as much as I’d like to. I have a great passion for cooking. I used to cook a lot before becoming a businessman, before being so busy. Until a few years ago I used to organize full course dinners, with starters, firsts, seconds, desserts. Now I cook a lot less. I specialized in what I enjoy most, like pasta for example. I believe that a good plate of pasta with high quality ingredients, a seafood spaghetti or a bavette with pesto sauce, is kind of a small luxury. I obviously eat out a lot even if I think that in this moment of my life the real luxury is to eat at home and cook for myself, it’s a great moment I like sharing with others. There’s nothing better. Even if it’s a difficult day, if I’m busy and have a very tight schedule, there’s nothing better than cooking a dinner and inviting friends over.
FRANCESCA MOLTENI — Is there any other place where you would like to live?
MASSIMO GIORGETTI — We’re talking about dreams again! I must admit that the new Herzog & De Meuron’s Tribeca tower in Leonard Street, New York, is a dream. I was there in December, right under it. I have been following all the developments in the last years and it really is a dream, living in New York is a dream. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to live in one of those glass boxes in that area of the city.
But on the other hands, I’m Italian. I like the seaside, I like the Mediterranean and I recently discovered the Abbey of Cervara, it’s a former convent in Portofino. I think its garden was nominated as one of the most beautiful gardens in the World. So maybe I’d like to live both experiences. But I must say I consider myself very lucky, I enjoy living in Milan, I like living at home.
FRANCESCA MOLTENI — Is there an Italian designer you really admire?
MASSIMO GIORGETTI — I am a real fan of Gio Ponti and of his whole school: from Le Corbusier to Osvaldo Borsani. He was an interesting person, he loved his job, he worked 24/7 and also found the time to write. Few months ago I received this book of letters he wrote. Despite the fact he worked 20 hours, he found the time to write a beautiful letter for every friend’s birthday. In his letters he would write about the relationship he had with this person, with his friends. I think it’s wonderful. He was probably a gifted person, with a special character and a rare sensitivity.
The Hotel Parco dei Principi in Sorrento is a unique experience because it’s kind of a designer hospital, it’s marvellous… I really believe that design and fashion can help people live a better life, they can make life beautiful and this has to be understood and we must make the most of it. Possessing a piece, even a small one, means seize some of the energy contained into it. It’s important to understand the past, enjoy the present and have a vision for the future. In this respect, I believe design, intended as part of our Italian history and culture, is crucial.
Photo Olivier Zahm