The Brutalist Residence Club, as it is known, is a very iconic building for the city of Udine. With its overhanging balconies and vertical gardens, it was really futuristic for its time. I am from the same north-east region of Italy, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, so I know it well,’ says architect and designer Cristina Celestino, who juggles creating products for her decade-old brand, Attico Design, with collaborations for others and one-off interior projects.
Here, she spent six months transforming a former office (‘Everything was in mint condition from when the building was completed in 1979’) into a two-bedroom, two-bathroom second home for a couple who live two hours away in the countryside.
As is typical of Cristina’s approach, the interior design was driven by the building itself. ‘In this case, I referenced the materials and colours used by the original architect, Massimo Camillo Bodini,’ she confirms. So, the soft shell-like pink of the communal stairwell is echoed in one wall of the apartment’s open-plan living room, which acted as a starting point for both the custom-made, two-tone kitchen and the warm palette of peach, orange and terracotta throughout.
‘I love to mix different shades and textures, but these always come at the beginning of a project, it’s not something decorative that’s added at the end. There are touches of black because the internal doors, which we’ve kept, are burgundy with a black matte wood frame,’ says Cristina, who also retained the glossy teal-coloured, hand-glazed tiles in the bathrooms.
The previously carpeted floor is now travertine marble, echoing the terrace outside. ‘It was an important decision; I wanted to focus on the link between interior and exterior, so I decided to use the same material,’ she explains, pointing out the large sliding windows that run along one side of the apartment as another connection with the leafy outdoor space and urban landscape beyond.
Inside, clean lines and curving shapes can be seen in the mix of contemporary furniture (such as Cristina’s ‘Gala’ sofa for Saba), vintage rattan pieces and Italian classics from the 1970s and 80s that include a ‘Butterfly’ floor lamp by Tobia and Afra Scarpa for Flos, as well as Cassina’s modern ‘Antella’ dining table by Kazuhide Takahama.
The client’s request for a functional home comes to life in thoughtful details such as the raised dining area, which is made partially private by a bespoke piece of furniture that doubles up as a planter. Yet this multifaceted interior goes far beyond the practical. By taking cues from the past, Cristina has ensured that the space feels inextricably connected to the building, yet thoroughly modern and elegant too.
‘From the entrance, which is part of the existing architecture, you can see all the different layers: an abstract canvas by Matete Martini, the colours, furniture and materials,’ she concludes. ‘It captures the romantic mood of the apartment immediately.’ cristinacelestino.com