Overlooking a traditional piazza and the hilly countryside beyond, this Italian apartment is a stylistic contrast with its modern design and angular elements. Newly renovated, the space is meant to serve as a pied-à-terre, flexible in accommodation and dedicated to the enjoyment of the Piedmontese city. Indeed, the open plan and sleek design create an excellent base for a relaxing getaway.
Owned by a young entrepreneur from Cuneo, the 55 square-meter apartment has an enviable location, overlooking the Piazza San Paolo in Alba. Being near the historic area of the city, known for its food and wine, means that the apartment is very convenient to countless clubs and restaurants. In the distance, the hilly Langhe area southeast of the Tanaro River creates a soothing landscape silhouette. In designing the renovation, tIPS Architects conceived of an open plan that devoted as much of the area to the living space as possible. The single, multipurpose living area is oriented toward the piazza view, with the loggia off of the living room.
Actually, half of the surface area of the entire apartment is dedicated to the open-plan concept, which makes the most of the available space by incorporating furniture and cabinetry design specifically for the apartment. As the architects drew up the design for each room, they also designed the furniture. The kitchen consists of a single, large element that stretches to the entrance. Every door in this unit opens to reveal the plentiful storage space, even at the corners of the kitchen. The clear division in the apartment means that the entrance is articulated and part of the hallway and the bathroom.
The living room sticks to a neutral palette, which is ideal for this style of open-plan apartment. The built-in cabinet floats along the length of the wall and a flatscreen television is the main element on the large wall. Smaller artworks are hung on the opposite wall. Above the dining table, large wire pendants add some rounded silhouettes to the room and cast very interesting shadows on the ceiling. Fixtures like these can sometimes be a challenge because they have to blend with all parts of the space. Here, the pendants have a chubby, almost inflated look that blends with the kitchen and dining area as well as the living room.
When there’s a view to be seen, its important to arrange the seating in a way that allows for enjoying it. In this apartment, the renovation was designed so that the sofa could be positioned to have a view out the window while keeping an open traffic pattern through the space.
One of the doors in that black kitchen unit is actually the door to the bedroom, a bit like a secret passage that the designers call a “masterpiece of interior design.” The way that this preserves the privacy of the sleeping area emphasizes the division between the two types of areas in the home. The bedroom space is particularly minimalist and modest in size precisely because the focus was on creating as much living space as possible within the confines of the apartment. Aside from the bed and the mirrored closet doors, a unique hanging bedside light — the Neuro by Davide Groppi for Flos — provides light for reading and the attached nightstand is just enough for necessities.
Following the themes of discovery and perceptive illusion, the design feels a bit like an exhibition space thanks to the lighting that uses both projectors and diffusers in the tracks along the dropped ceiling. Both in the bedroom and the bathroom, the Flos track fixtures were customized to provide the right kind of lighting for each area without being obtrusive.
The bathroom design was actually inspired by a piece of tradition that came with the property: an old Genoese basin made from Carrara marble. The basin was part of the original kitchen in the apartment and was not in the greatest shape. A local marble workshop painstakingly cleaned and restored the basin for use in the new bathroom. Instead of a traditional bathroom vanity, the designers created a piece of furniture that conforms to the shape of the basin reminiscent of the old-style supports that were likely used to hold the stone by the craftsman who created it. Wall-mounted hardware really highlights the old style, yet the overall look is exceptionally modern.
Above the basin, a huge mirror that is five meters long makes the bathroom feel like it’s twice as large as it actually is. This is especially enhanced because it reflects the glass shower wall next to it.
This Italian apartment is a wonderful example of how fabulous design can meld the traditional with the modern in a way that’s super stylish and attractive.