When Piero Portaluppi designed the Villa Necchi Campiglio in Milan between 1932 and 1935, he was already a well-known professional accepted and appreciated within the ranks of wealthy industrial Lombard society. It was precisely here just a short walk from Piazza San Babila, that the architect demonstrated an exceptional openness to modernity, leaving the decorative style of the previous years in order to embrace the emerging rationalism movement although with considerable caution.
The horizontal development of the main building, the long corner window of the façade, the cut of the interior in which the space flows seamlessly through large sliding doors.
The high standard of living of the owners who were well-known as a result of the production of sewing machines, can already be seen in the garden, large enough to accommodate both a tennis court and a swimming pool. Inside, in the rooms it is the quality of the materials that reflects the wealth of the owners, as demonstrated by rosewood paneling, brass fittings and nickel silver inlays on the doors. The furnishings specifically designed by Guglielmo Ulrich also appear sophisticated and well cared-for and are partly still in place.
At first glance then, the Villa looks like a style catalogue featuring the pure and refined traits of the world of the 1930s. But time passes and with it, in terms of the Necchi Campiglio, the preference turned towards more historically established and familiar contexts, in line with the settings of the traditional Milanese aristocracy.
So it was Tomaso Buzzi who brought the past into the Villa, introducing a personal revival of the former into some of the rooms. The architect’s original style thus gives shape to the historical context that, especially after the war, seemed to satisfy the aspirations of the Necchi Campiglio more than the contemporary was able to.
The contribution of Giorgio Armani
Having been since 2008 among the major sponsors of the restoration of Villa Necchi Campiglio, thus enabling it to open to the public as a museum-cum-home, Giorgio Armani has now made a contribution to the FAI for the creation of the new elegant iron and glass structure that covers the original tennis court.
“I was immediately fascinated by the artistic and cultural wealth expressed in every detail of Villa Necchi Campiglio, a building that reflects a refined and worldly lifestyle, but which is also intensely Milanese. This is why I was happy to make a further contribution to the restoration and protection of the tennis court of the Villa” said the designer.
Story . Lucia Borromeo
Photo . FAI Archive + Arena Immagini + Giorgio Majno