For Aurel K Basedow and Draga Obradovic, there is nothing more stimulating than the creative process. Since opening their multidisciplinary design studio in Como in 2007, the couple have released their own furniture lines, as well as collaborating with Baxter, Visionnaire and Wall & Decò.
Their sleek, artistic and glamorous style, which features plenty of precious materials, is perfectly suited to this city by the lake, known as Italy’s playground of the rich and famous. However, the pair didn’t actually find their home here, overlooking its famous Duomo cathedral, until 2017.
Located on the exact same street as their studio, this apartment was worth the wait. ‘We saw its potential right away,’ says Draga of the early 1900s art nouveau villa it’s located in.
‘The building was given a new, sleeker look in 1970 by the Armenian architect Manouk Manoukian, a very close friend of [Italian architect and designer] Ico Parisi. Some details, like the window frames, show the signature of Manouk’s particular style, creating something unexpected in this setting.’
It’s this collision of design eras that proved irresistible for Draga and Aurel, who enjoy being playful with their choices. For them, reinterpreting this space and assembling the furniture to go in it has been a challenge, but also a game – like a beautiful puzzle.
The first part of that puzzle was to correct the existing layout. ‘We created a modern and informal open space and remade the bathrooms,’ explains Draga. ‘The original floor remains, but we chose to decorate it in a creative way with a custom-made pattern.’
That bespoke design, made using different colours of varnish, along with the couple’s blue resin ‘Reverso’ partitions (part of their ‘Transparency Matters’ collection) bring intimacy to what are now sociable, connected rooms.
The couple’s signature touches abound, with their passion for vintage always apparent. The kitchen, for example, utilises old drawers and cabinets. By placing the pieces within a newly built metal frame and coating them with resin from their own atelier, they have breathed new life into these items with a past.
Lamps designed in the 1970s – ‘a decade we both love’, adds Draga – contribute to the existing glamour of the contemporary furniture, much of which they designed themselves. There’s the glistening, golden ‘Rafiki’ bookcase in the hallway and ‘Viktor’ sofa in the living area, both created for Baxter, plus Aurel’s own abstract canvases, which adorn walls throughout the apartment.
Thanks largely to the views of the centuries-old trees in the park that surrounds and protects the villa, the atmosphere here is relaxing. On sunny days, the light catching the many golden accents in the apartment can be mesmerising, adding to the peaceful vibe. In a home and a city full of luxuries, perhaps that’s the biggest one of all. draga-aurel.com