WORDS: PETER HOWARTH
Early next year, Giorgio Armani will unveil the new Armani/Casa store in Corso Venezia, in his home city of Milan. The large space, spread over four floors, with 16 windows onto the street, is a statement of intent – the designer’s commitment to showing the world that his engagement with interior design is serious. It is perhaps significant that the new store will be located at a space formerly occupied by De Padova, a firm that is legendary in the history of Italian (and Milanese) design. Armani/Casa launched in 2000. Since then, it has developed into a comprehensive collection of furniture, lighting and home accessories, and boasts a dedicated Interior Design Studio for individuals and property developers, which can follow a project from the conceptual stage through to the management of construction, and create custom furniture and furnishings. In areas where more specialist expertise is required, Armani has partnered with other Italian brands to create kitchen and bathroom furniture (with Dada and Roca respectively), wallcoverings (with Jannelli & Volpi) and textiles (with Rubelli). No place like home In interiors, as in fashion, Giorgio Armani’s unique design aesthetic beautifully blends form and function Words: Peter Howarth Opposite The Logo lamp (£1,575) in Nick Vinson’s house This page from top Inside the new Armani/Casa store in Corso Venezia, Milan; the Club bar cabinet, with door panels in ‘ocean’ lacquer (£35,100) Interiors • Brummell 71 The look, as you would expect from a man whose design vision champions timeless style over trends, is clean, subtle, restrained in terms of colour and pattern, and effortlessly stylish.
‘I have always been interested in extending my design aesthetic from clothing into other areas,’ says Armani. ‘My objective was to bring my philosophy of style to the world of home interiors and, in doing so, to create the complete concept of an “Armani lifestyle”. I’ve presented my ideal for living, my dream of the perfect environment: an intimate and sophisticated space in which to relax, unwind and entertain guests, surrounded by beauty manifested through furniture and objects for the home.’ But before Armani/Casa became a full-blown project, it was foreshadowed by a modest little creation. ‘My first piece of interior design was the Logo lamp,’ says Armani, ‘which I created in 1982.’ This was when Armani was beginning to take off – the year he graced the cover of Time magazine, and not long after he’d dressed Richard Gere in American Gigolo. The lamp was made to illuminate the designer’s offices in Via Durini, Milan. When, nearly two decades later, he finally got round to launching his first home collection, this piece became the first product of the range; it was also employed as the basis of the Armani/ Casa logo – a symbol of the elegant minimalism that remains characteristic of the designer’s style. Recently, Armani/Casa celebrated the humble Logo lamp by asking photographer Beppe Brancato to picture it in the homes of some prominent members of the design community. Four architects – Tadao Ando, who designed the Armani Teatro show space in Milan, David Collins, John Pawson and Vincenzo De Cotiis – and editor, writer and creative director Nick Vinson all participated. But though the Logo lamp in many ways epitomises the no-frills approach of Armani interiors, there is a parallel story at work here, which takes in influences from Eastern Art Deco and the natural world, and delights in the use of artisanal craftsmanship. Clearly this modernist is not simply austere – he is also something of a romantic.Typical of this strand of the Armani look is something like the new Club bar cabinet, limited to 50 pieces, numbered, and signed by the designer. The door panels feature an ‘ocean’ lacquer, each one decorated and varnished by hand.The image takes inspiration from ‘The Great Wave off Kanagawa’, a woodblock print by Japanese artist Hokusai.
So how does Armani feel about being an interiors designer now? ‘Although at first glance fashion and furniture may seem very different, the creative processes for designing them are in fact surprisingly similar,’ he says. ‘Both require you to take things from the realm of the imagination and translate them into reality, starting with a two-dimensional sketch and then turning this into a three-dimensional object. Both require working with shapes, textures, finishes and volumes, taking care to combine beauty with comfort and function. As for the language of design, the Armani aesthetic comes from my own design philosophy, so there is an undeniable link between my clothes and my furniture.’ The new Armani/Casa store is located at Corso Venezia 14, Milan; armanicasa.com