The brand new lifetime of Palazzo Spinelli in Florence

a Palazzo Spinellimagnificent building from the second half of the 15th centurye attributed to the architect Bernard Rossellin, is known for having long housed the famous school of art restoration. The façade of the building with its monochrome painted motifs is sublime, as is the inner courtyard and its loggia, which are also decorated. Located in the heart of Florence, a few steps from the Basilica of Santa Croce, this building gives us the best of Florentine Renaissance architecture. It was here that Silvia Mazzoli (56), a stylist and businesswoman, creator of the Ottod’Ame brand, and Giani Guastella, 59, also a stylist and businesswoman, the founder of the Dixie brand, settled. Born Florentine, passionate about her work, they both define themselves as “Aesthetes, lovers of art, music and cinema”. By choosing their new residence, they wanted to fully experience the city experience, have the opportunity to invite their friends and organize great dinners, and at the same time be just a few steps from the most beautiful cities in Florence. For the restoration and interior architecture of the place, their choice fell on the B-Arch agency in Prato, which has been cooperating with Ottod’ame for many years in its flagship stores and which has a fondness for construction. and new coexistence happily.

The layers of time have been respected and improved.

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“When the couple bought the building, the property was left in the form of negligence. It was not particularly dilapidated, but we felt a lack of interest in the beauty of the place. There was the austere atmosphere one often finds in buildings that, while beautiful, do not give way to a life that enhances their splendor. For a time, the educational profession of the place partially obscured its original beauty. explains Sabrina Bignami of B-Arch, an architectural, design and interior design company she founded with her husband Alessandro Capellar in 2000.

The walls of the inner convent of the Palazzo, typical of the Florentine Renaissance XVe century.

Photo by Sofie Delauw

How was the meeting with the client?

Silvia and Gianni have already been clients of our agency: we have implemented several projects for them, including the flagship Ottod’Ame in Milan in the heart of Brera and Verona in Piazza delle Erbe. For several years now, Silvia and Gianni have been looking for a house in the heart of Florence’s historic center where they can receive their friends for the weekend. Above all, however, they wanted a house that would allow them “very urban” Florentine life, something more lively than the rhythms imposed by the family house, which is located more in the hills around the city.

Living room corner. Restoring B-Arch should be non-invasive and try to find a form of grace and lightness. As Sabrina Bignami, co-founder of the agency, explains: “We do not perceive a single story on our constructions, and especially on those that begin with a project to renovate old buildings, but a story of lives and periods that naturally intersect and transform to suit the current way of life. »

© Sofie Delauw

How would you describe your intervention?

At Palazzo Spinelli, we were able to implement our approach to historic buildings; modus operandi, which always begins with a research phase that allows us to fully understand the context and the building, and thus to be able to design an intervention based on “respecting” the past without losing sight of the current purpose of the building. our work. We like “Restoration that is not visible”, rediscovering the signs of the past and reintroducing them into the path of vitality and change with ease: we like architectural interventions that are not “gossiping”, we always tend to rediscover the original beauty of architecture without erasing traces of the past, the layers history has written on its walls , in its interiors.

The hospitality room with the original coffered ceiling is energized by a large De Sede sofa, which draws the structure of the talks and meetings that take place there. The carpet was made to measure by the Florentine house Boralevi. Luste Sputnik, Delta Bo project. Table in the foreground, Galloti & Radice. Copper coffee table from the 70s of the last century, vintage bought at the Mercante In Fiera in Parma. The work is by the Florentine artist Simafra. Original vintage ball lamp from Reggiani.

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The connection between the desires of the owners and the vision of the architects was the result of a meeting around common passions, a permanent dialogue “Ironic and imaginative, according to Bigami. We accompanied Silvia and Gianni to their new premises and imagined the future decoration with them. Above all, however, we gave them the keys from the beginning to make it a unique place. We love this moment when the client understands that his life, his rhythms and his routine will inevitably evolve in his new home. This is especially the case in reconstruction of historic buildings. Every space has its own personality, which cannot be overlooked, in the pain of losing the soul of the place! »

In order not to distort the ceilings, the architects have resorted to a solution that does not lack charm: “We did not want to endanger the beauty of these very tall rooms with their painted wooden ceilings. Therefore, we thought of arranging the layout at a lower level, by installing hand-painted panels, to create a more natural form of separation between the kitchen and dining room, while allowing for flexibility of use. » Lighting, Vistosi. Table, vintage, made for Olivetti. B-Arch reworked the top of the rosewood. Vintage vases.

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What does it mean to work in a city like Florence with such a rich past?

We believe that the interior of the house is always born from the meeting of the personality of the person who will live there with the personality of the building. Like every encounter, respect, sensitivity and sincerity are needed. It is from this meeting that we have the inspiration for a project that is beginning to take shape, still alive, in a contemporary way. Living in a renaissance building does not mean giving up the “modern” lifestyle, as we often listen to our clients, but rather living through the times and talking to the past. The result is a richer and more intense experience.

Kitchen made of polished brass and black marble. The whole design is signed by B-Arch.

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Did you have to work a lot on the restoration or was the soul of the building already well preserved?

We did a lot of research. We did a lot of tests on ceilings, walls, floors, we looked for traces of the past, traces that would show the way forward. We spent a lot of time analyzing the original materials and natural light. Light is always a very central theme, as it is often missing in the oldest streets of Florence’s historic center. At the same time, we had a vision of contemporary life that had to find new rituals for these new spaces. We managed to avoid the impasse that many customers face when they offered to place a kitchenette in the first room, ie the space through which the premises are entered. We have never considered “dividing” rooms: in this situation, there are often architectural tricks, such as walls, the top of which is made of glass, to create the illusion that the different atmospheres are not separated. Thanks to the panels, we have solved the problem with elegance and flexibility: they can partially obscure the view of the kitchen by making the dining table a focal point, but at the same time they never completely block the depth of the room. They can also be moved, which separates the kitchen and highlights its counter.

The hand-painted panels are the work of the artist Elena Carozzi. They were designed to scatter and reflect light in space. Negotiating table made for Olivetti, the board is made of rosewood. Vintage glass.

PH @sofiedelauw

You have also opted for an interesting solution regarding bedroom

We decided to install the bedroom in a smaller and more intimate room facing out, with a small wardrobe and a large bathroom. Here the space suddenly becomes more intimate. A major problem in the development of this room was the optimal use of natural light. It enters through this window into this small room and is very valuable for other rooms as well. To design a classic bedroom with a door that closes to preserve privacy would be to give up this intense light that comes from a single window overlooking the outside. That is why the room is “revolutionized” to allow the door to be left open without the bed showing up. We designed a piece of furniture that forms a structure that allows you to “hide” the bed, but at the same time offers new elementa library that lets light into the house and brings a new lighting perspective connecting the living rooms in a row.

In the bedroom, B-Arch designed everything to measure: a library, but also an arched closet that hides all the equipment.

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Translation by Dario Rudy.

Article originally published on AD Italy.

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