More than just an art and design gallery, Casa Canvas is also the home of designer Thayse Viégas. It’s inspired by a blank canvas, where anything can happen and anyone is free to leave their mark – whether that’s an artist with their unique work, a designer with their latest project or a visitor with their lasting memories.
Viégas was born in the northern Brazilian city of Belém, but grew up in Rio de Janeiro. Her decision to move to Italy coincided with plans to enrol in a master’s degree in fashion design. She worked for a few years as a buyer, collaborating with some important names in Milan; gradually, she focused her interest on art and furnishings, creating a rather unusual formula for her space.
“In Brazil, we are used to trying out collective experiences, while in Italy I have noticed a more closed approach,” says Viégas. “What I wanted to create with this gallery was a moment of sharing and collaboration, along with different creative situations in the design, art and craftsmanship fields. I thought that it could also be my home.”
“It wasn’t me finding this extraordinary location; on the contrary – it chose me,” she adds. “I love big cities, so I would have never thought I could live in a small village.” The house-gallery occupies a part of the ground floor of the beautiful Villa Stanga Busca Borromeo in Carate Brianza, in an area not far from Milan that was once a holiday resort and is today known for its globally renowned manufacturers of design furniture.
This historic home was built with neoclassical architecture and later transformed in the 19th century using the Lombard baroque style, featuring two generously proportioned rooms, with frescoed ceilings and large decorated doors. This is the ornate set on which Viégas simultaneously lives and works, where she showcases the works of established and emerging artists and designers from around the world, including France’s Sam Baron, the Italian-Greek duo Ctrlzak and Brazil’s Gustavo Martini.
“I like to mix things – this has always been my inclination since school, when I designed a concept store linking art, fashion and furniture for my thesis,” explains Viégas. In Casa Canvas, she exhibits artists who move her – in essence, artworks that she wants to live with. She combines them with modern furniture from the 1950s to the ’70s, especially Italian pieces, and creations that she personally signs.
“This place has changed me,” professes Viégas. “My previous work as a buyer forced me into a frenetic pace. Here, I slowed down. I continue to be in touch with all the news that is happening, but I buy modernist pieces and works of art without feeling as tense as before. Having a garden nearby puts me in touch with the seasons and their changes, so I’ve become a more contemplative kind of person.”
To reach Casa Canvas, you must ask for an appointment – guests often turn their visit into a full experience, complete with the wonderful Italian garden, a chat and a cup of tea. “Some of them come here with their dogs or children,” says Viégas. “It’s something that amuses me – making the meetings more informal. The space is impregnated with history, having seen several important people passing through. It’s stimulated my romantic side. I love the history behind things, but I do live in the present.”
A version of this article appeared in our October 2018 issue.
Photography: Lea Anouchinsky for Living Inside