Inside a Warm Modernist Family Home on Lake Como

The charm of Italy’s Lake Como has historically inspired poets and artists, and in recent years has enchanted a host of Hollywood celebrities.

It certainly left an indelible mark in the hearts of Vera and Max, a couple originally from the area who chose to build their dream home here. Years of research and planning on styles and shapes, inspired by the American rationalist and modernist architecture of the 1950s, gave birth to Casapan – a villa at the foot of Mount Bisbino, about an hour from Milan – developed around building a home resembling a telescope that’s aimed at the lake.

The project required years of planning, particularly because it had to grapple with the conditions dictated by its hilly terrain location. This resulted in the evolution of different rooms of the house on different levels, connected by steps and bridging elements. 

Rich materials, large spaces and clean lines characterise the unique personality of this home, where you can feel influences assimilated during the years the family lived abroad in Africa. Reminiscent of an African house are the living area’s ceilings, which are covered with Canadian maple wood. Contrasting with the cream colour chosen for the finishing of the Venetian stone flooring, the warm hues of wood recall a 1960s aesthetic, and is used to create a separation between the living room and kitchen.

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Modern Italian furniture collected during years of research and pieces of African craftsmanship harmoniously blend in the different rooms. In the kitchen are ebony chairs designed by the homeowner and made in the Ivory Coast by a local craftsman, positioned around Eero Saarinen’s Tulip oval table for Knoll. The contrast of the colours and shapes of these elements is balanced out by the presence of a stunning Poliedri blown-glass chandelier in light pink, designed by Carlo Scarpa for Venini.

In the living room, the only touch of colour that moves away from a deliberately neutral stylistic choice is in the banana-shaped dormeuse from the ’50s, which is covered in a green velvet and recalls the colours of the garden. The bookcase, on the other hand, is made to measure by Italian craftsmen under the direction of the homeowner who designed it, like many other elements of the house.

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Though light colours and wood dominate throughout the home, the bedrooms feature the most contrast, with wooden flooring and deep blue walls that reflect the aquatic element of lakes visible from the large windows.

Truly passionate about architecture and interior design, Max confesses he’s spent years studying magazines and architecture books with his wife, looking for inspiration for the design and furnishing of each room. The entire house was designed from the very beginning by the owners, with particular attention given to some details by Max: his are the projects of the television room, with its long leather sofas and a retractable cupboard that houses the TV; the project of the bookcase that leads to the upper floor study; the shelves of the reading room, which hide between a multitude of books on history and philosophy; and a mobile bar for moments of relaxation at the end of the day.

For more interior design inspiration, check out our Homes section.

A version of this article originally appeared in our February 2018 issue. 

Photography: Valentina Sommariva for Living Inside