A cast of astonishing animals occupy this historical home in Bologna

Contemporary touches bring wit and magic to the home and studio of architect Carola Fumarola

carola fumarola home bologna moooi wallpaper
Fabrizio Cicconi/Photofoyer

Enter this vast apartment within the 15th-century surroundings of Palazzo Poeti in central Bologna and you are greeted by walls teeming with life. Moooi’s ‘Menagerie of Extinct Animals’ wallpaper is a theatrical, maximalist introduction to the home of architect Carola Fumarola, but one that signposts the excitement that can be found within.

Running the successful Arcade Studio from this palatial apartment has meant that, sadly for animal lover Carola, she has been too busy to have a pet. But that hasn’t stopped her injecting a little animal energy into the home she has dubbed ‘The Bestial House’.

A life-sized ‘Horse’ lamp by Moooi is stabled in one of the reception rooms, while elsewhere there is a vintage carousel steed and equine ceramics by Enza Fasano. ‘I am the host and they graze carelessly,’ says Carola.

carola fumarola home bologna moooi horse lamp cc tapis rug
Fabrizio Cicconi/Photofoyer

In a property with more modest dimensions, these four-legged friends could appear out of place, but here they are dwarfed by the sheer scale of these rooms, the eccentricity of Carola’s style choices softened by the historic decorative excess on display.

Look up in this home and you will never be disappointed – painstakingly restored, the vaulted ceilings feature original frescoes and boiserie panelling, as well as carved details in china red, gold and more muted chalky plaster pink.

carola fumarola home bologna living room with purple bandb italia sofas
Fabrizio Cicconi/Photofoyer

Such expansive spaces could be intimidating, but Carola was not cowed. Far from it. She chose to add even more volume to the more modest spaces in this home, opening up the boxed-in ceilings to reveal original wooden beams. There is no central hallway in this property, but to create a sense of flow and connectivity, she carved voids into the upper reaches of some of the walls, a trick inspired, she says, by the architecture of the great Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

‘I feel like a tailor who cuts and sews bespoke projects,’ explains Carola. ‘First and foremost it’s the architecture of a place that wins me over, its history; then I make insertions and interventions until I reach something magical.’

carola fumarola home bologna dining room with decorative ceiling
Fabrizio Cicconi

Selecting furniture for a place this architecturally resplendent meant finding pieces that matched its wow-factor. Carola’s picks are bold and brave, focusing on the work of designers with distinctly architectural styles – think Carlo Scarpa, Angelo Mangiarotti, Patricia Urquiola and, of course, Mies van der Rohe.

‘This is not as minimal as my work for clients,’ she admits, ‘but I have switched between elegant, glossy lacquered surfaces and matt materials, all inspired by the tones found in the frescoes above.’

carola fumarola home bologna  bedroom
Fabrizio Cicconi/Photofoyer

A workplace and a home, this is intended to be a bustling space full of creativity, but since completing its renovation the pandemic has prevented Carola from entertaining. That is soon to change. ‘I am organising events related to Italian cuisine, as well as architecture, art and cinema,’ she says, clearly excited by the prospect. ‘I want the chance to share the charm of these spaces.’ arcadestudio.it

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