A Vivid Artistic Mood in an Ascetic Apartment Designed by Michela and Paolo Baldessari

A surprising renovation in the historic center in Trento (ITALY)

Spatially speaking, it’s a very small step from the exterior of the decorative 18th-century building to the meticulous apartment located on its main floor, but a very large one in terms of design and aesthetics.

In fact, the idea that opposites can coexist is very much fostered by this Baldessari renovation. The rigorous paneling and flooring defy a series of exuberant artworks (from Baroque to Contemporary style), while the seriousness of the private spaces answers back to the radiance of the convivial areas. The designers invite their observers to play a game that involves continuously crossing between different environments within the same landscape.

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Residence Designed to House Many Works by Contemporary Artists

Owned by an art collector, the residence has been designed to house many works by contemporary artists (Hsiao Chin, Ugo Nespolo, Enrico Baj, Bruno Chersicla, Giulio Turcato, and Milena Milani), as well as antique furniture, and more functional and essential furnishing objects.  

Commencing with this requirement, Michela and Paolo Baldessari came up with an elegant “Franciscan” concept. The use of wood as the only — ascetic but aesthetically very important — material, became a leitmotiv for the project. “We used wide slats of brushed ash wood, treated with a dark brown “sackcloth” color for the floor and paneling”, explains Michela Baldessari. “The visual impact of this material has created a minimal and almost meditative atmosphere. This, in our opinion, has emphasized — in a functional way but also with a certain irony — the characteristics of the artworks, furniture, and even the warm conviviality of the owners themselves”.

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The division of the spaces was also made, therefore, according to a dual aesthetic criterion: a bright open space devoid of symmetry for the living and dining areas, juxtaposed with severe partitioning in the sleeping area and study.

The large, brightly-colored living room has a wide opening on one side — almost a whole wall, which leads out onto a terrace of approximately 100 m2. On the opposite wall, a passageway leads to the kitchen.

The entrance to the sleeping area, on the other hand, has a discrete and meditative feel, with a corridor whose paneling erases any “signs” by integrating cupboards, doors, and even milled handles into the thickness of the door. This “Franciscan-like” corridor leads off to the bedrooms of the three children and the parent’s bedroom, with its spacious ensuite.
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Project Details

Design: Baldessari e Baldessari Architects and Designers

Location: Trento (ITALY)

Year: 2011

Project: Private apartment

Total surface area: 200 sqm + 100 sqm terrace

Furnishing: Poliform Strip chairs, Varenna steel kitchen, De Padova Regent’s sofas, Orizzonti beds, Kartell Four table, Driade Flo chairs, Flaminia ceramics, Rapsel Vola taps and fittings, and Viabizzuno lamps.

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Photo – interiors and terrace: Matteo Piazza

Photo – exterior courtyard: Carlo Baroni


Studio Baldessari e Baldessari Profile

Michela and Paolo Baldessari have experimented with the work and multilingualism of architecture since they were young, in the studio founded by their father Giulio (in 1950) and through the work of their uncle Luciano Baldessari, a leading figure in Italian architecture and design in the 1900s.


Since the last century, their hometown, Rovereto, has been an important crossroads for the arts, and from its singular mixture of knowledge, the Baldessari’s have absorbed the main characteristic of their work: whether it’s an interior or an industrial building, numerous traces and references to other worlds can be found.

These are subtle links that Paolo Baldessari explains as follows: “Architecture has a strongly communicative aspect, that we can best express when we are able to insert meaningful elements of design, art, and graphic communication upon completion of the project. In exhibitions sets for fairs, this approach is almost mandatory because the whole space has to send a clear message”.

“We apply the same idea to architectural and interior projects so as to give the space we are working on a specific identity”, continues Michela Baldessari.

The landscape also contributes to giving an identity to an interior, through sharp and ironic allusions, as in their recent renovation of a Venetian apartment (in the Dorsoduro area), where certain furnishings were chosen for their subtly Baroque details, similar to famous Venetian lace, while the guest bathroom was designed so as to allude to the restrooms of old railway sleeping cars…

In the restyling of the OPT office building in Calliano (TN) – the micro-perforated sheet metal used for the external roofing has copper-green tones that hold a dialogue with the roof of the bell tower in the neighboring town, recalling at the same time the material used in surrounding vineyards.



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By Danica Maričić

Interior Designer and Integrated Marketing Communications Pro, Loving Writing and Photography, Passionate about Life & Style, “True Blue” Mediterranean Girl, Curious Traveller & Designer