Milanese apartment inspired by Le Corbusier’s concepts for small-space living

The modular principle advocates design on a human scale, but with none of the luxury removed

milanese home inspired by Le Corbusier’s ideas for small-space living
Nathalie Krag/Living Inside

It was on an architectural pilgrimage to visit the smallest building on the UNESCO World Heritage List that the seeds for this project were sown. Architect Giuliano Andrea dell’Uva was in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin on France’s sunny southern coast to see Le Corbusier’s famous Cabanon, the tiny holiday home the modernist master sketched and built as a present for his wife Yvonne in the 1950s. With a floorplan measuring just under 14 square metres, the hut is the ultimate inspiration for small-space living.

It’s no surprise, then, that the property was on Giuliano’s mind when his friend Erminia asked him to design the interior of her 50-square-metre flat in Milan’s vibrant Città Studi neighbourhood. ‘When I first stepped inside,’ says Giuliano, ‘I discovered a blank canvas just waiting to be written on.’

milanese home inspired by Le Corbusier’s ideas for small-space living
Nathalie Krag/Living Inside

What he has created is a layout influenced by Le Corbusier’s ‘Modulor’ principle, which advocated designing on a human, or anthropometric, scale. Instead of being open-plan, the apartment is cleverly segmented into zones, with a frosted glass screen dividing the black kitchen pod from the rest of the flat. Geometric blocks of colour cover the walls in the living area, while in the bedroom, primary-coloured sections of Fornasetti’s ‘Malachite’ wallpaper produce a new, more indulgent take on the painted panelling in Le Corbusier’s Cabanon. When paired with the original cement floor tiles, the gem-like design adds a distinctive sprinkle of Milanese glamour.

milanese home inspired by Le Corbusier’s ideas for small-space living
Nathalie Krag/Living Inside

This elegance is also evident in the furniture that decorates the home. Erminia works as a marketing manager for a multinational business in the luxury sector and her job, she says, ‘has trained her eye for design’. Her careful selection encompasses limited editions and unique pieces from France, Italy and Denmark. Items created by Gio Ponti for the Royal Continental Hotel in Naples, including the famous ‘Leggera’ chairs, feature heavily. In the living room, every design is a classic, from the ‘Anfibio’ sofa by Alessandro Becchi to an iron and brass table by Pierre Cardin.

‘Today, this is a refuge rich in references,’ says Giuliano, crediting the great understanding between himself and Erminia for the success of the project. With its wealth of high-end pieces, it may feel a world away from the simple charm of the Cabanon, but there is a common thread. Le Corbusier once described his seaside escape as ‘extravagant in comfort and gentleness’, characteristics that this home has in abundance. giulianoandreadelluva.it

For the full house tour see ELLE Decoration March 2020

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