Private Residence, Italy

March 17, 2022

Situated in the heart of the historic centre of Padua, the private residence benefits from beautiful panoramic views of the city with an abundance of daylight flooding through its large original windows. 

TThe team at Studio Marco Piva were tasked with creating a contemporary design that incorporated and complemented the residence’s original Art Nouveau architecture. The client gave the brief to create a refined and elegant home environment that is modern yet complementary to the monumental features of the building’s pre-existing works of art and finishes. It was also important to the client to retain certain pieces of classic furniture that possess a high sentimental value.

Marco Piva sits down with darc Editor Sarah Cullen, to discuss the design choices, and in particular the decorative lighting pieces selected, for the project. 

“We already had an established relationship with the client as we collaborated on a project in the past. In February 2019, he approached us again to complete the interior design of his new house in Padua city centre. Work began in the Summer of 2019 and finished in Spring 2021.” 

According to the client’s brief, the studio had to complete extensive research focused on the dualism of old and contemporary in order to provide a design that integrated, in a fluid and natural way, the historic pieces of pre-existing furniture with the new elements. 

“The objective was to achieve a long-lasting, functional and sophisticated space, rich in details that emphasise the exclusivity of the overall project,” Piva explains. 

However, working in the beautiful historic site brought with it some challenges for the team to overcome. “The main challenge of the project was to develop a functional continuity between the strong architecture present and the interior design in accordance with the requirements of the client.

“The design, studied closely by the studio, emphasises the existing architectural volumes, recalling the historical and Liberty architecture of the building that houses it. 

“Careful chromatic research went into selecting a contemporary but not invasive colour palette; a trend-colour range that doesn’t go out of fashion over time.”

One of the key elements that was considered at the very beginning of the design process was the lighting. Statement pieces were a must in the public spaces, and technical lighting was used to bring subtle functional lighting to task areas as well as to create bold illuminated wall features. 

“The role of decorative and custom lighting was, first of all, to give a touch of personality and atmosphere, but also to find the perfect harmony between the architecture of the place and the choice of furnishings. 

“Both the decorative and the technical aspect relating to the use of light were a key element in the whole design process, with regards to the strong natural light that penetrates through the full-height windows in the apartment.”

Notably, in the living room, the team wanted to create a “scenographic and sculptural installation worthy of the historic building where the house is located”, which resulted in the bespoke installation, Collier, from Italamp.

This eye-catching chandelier, according to Piva, is “a majestic composition that reaches a height of three-metres, inspired by a large-scale bijoux and arranged in five suspended rows on which a sequence of blown glass elements, each characterised by different shapes, decorations and colours.” 

“Each component is a unique piece, with colours customised and selected ad hoc for the project – agatha, dove grey, smoked, olive green, teak – where the glass seems to come alive in curves, textures and friezes that recall the ornaments of a precious pendant. The chandelier gives personality to the space and illuminates it through LED sources positioned inside each element, diffusing a delicate light filtered by the colored and decorated glass.

“The relationship we had with Italamp and its R&D team was fundamental to achieve these results thanks to their attention to detail and the deep technological research done together to conceive the custom chandelier, and also their respect for the given budget without sacrificing aesthetic and functionality,” he adds.

Elsewhere in the living room, six Caterina wall lamps from Italamp were chosen in custom-colour versions that match the palette of the interior scheme. “The wall lights are characterised by an aesthetic with retro references and by a simple but refined design: the metal structure is proposed with a brushed gold finish while the diffuser is articulated into two specular domes of different sizes, one in opal white glass, which contains the LED source, and a lower one in teak-coloured glass,” says Piva. 

Kreoo marble sheets are backlit by Fabbian Impianti Group fixtures as a custom piece of illuminated artwork. “The stone material is presented in an unusual duality, solid and dynamic; an investigation into the ratio between matter and light. Marble elements uniformly disperse the light with a scenographic effect.”

Further backlit Honey Onyx panels from Marmi Orobici Graniti are located in the entrance hallway. “The custom backlit marble panels, with their transparent / reflective finishes, create unusual effects of light and shadow,” explains Piva. “The LED lighting behind the panels can be controlled and managed, with different intensities and colours, to create attractive experiences involving scenarios and atmospheres for any time of the day.” 

In the dining room, Italamp’s Greta suspension fixture is reminiscent of jewels reinterpreted into a contemporary design, with a central tubular body with surrounding spherical pieces of varied sizes in carved crystal. Three pendants with five spheres were placed in a row in an elegant, symmetrical line. 

In the son’s bedroom, an IC suspension lamp from Flos was used to break up the rigidity of shaped furniture. 

“The choices between chandeliers, pendants, appliqués and technical lights are different in the various spaces of the apartment, depending on the focus points or elements we wanted to emphasise with light,” explains Piva.

“For example, the iconic custom chandelier produced with Italamp and the Greta pendant lamps were used in the more public and relational spaces – the living and dining room.

“Architectural light was used mainly in the entrance and bathrooms, while the rest of the house, with its double-height window, allowed us to exploit the power of natural light. In those areas we have played mainly with decorative sources. 

“My artificial light choices, both decorative and architectural, try to learn from natural light. Sometimes it’s a simple, soft light, while other times it can be highly theatrical, but it always comes from the search for an intrinsic dynamism, connected to the placement and specificity of the sources,” he continues.

Despite its historic foundations, the team didn’t face any structural constraints when installing fixtures. The only piece that needed extra attention and consideration was the bespoke living room chandelier, designed with Italamp. The Murano glass used increased the weight of the piece considerably, so Piva and the team worked closely with Italamp to manage the best solution for its suspension. 

Reflecting on the project as a whole, Piva reiterated the importance of the role of lighting and its consideration at the beginning of a design journey. “Beside the intense research that we have carried out to find the best, appropriate and durable materials, the light was one strategic element I wanted to use extensively in this project.

“It has been a fundamental step in conceiving the overall design by integrating the light from the earliest planning stages, playing with it and all its expressive possibilities.

”This scheme is able to integrate, as much as possible, the lighting into the fit out interior design elements, hiding the light sources where possible, and only making visible the final lighting effects that characterise spaces.

“This approach has permitted us to emphasise the feel of magic, astonishment and emotion of lights that occurs when the architectural elements are less visible, but enhance the richness of materials, textures and colours.

“I have brought hints of modern and contemporary into the historical building; an exclusive home, completely custom-designed, that features detailed bespoke designs in all the rooms.

“Precious materials and unusual finishes are combined within the lighting sources, creating an original play of contrast where innovation combines with the magnificent history of the place, as for the given brief and our initial ideas.”