Fabrizio Casiraghi can easily pinpoint the moment in his life that set him on his current path; it was the time he spent volunteering at one of the most iconic and influential houses in Italy: Milan's Villa Necchi Campiglio, designed in the early 1930s by the renowned architect Piero Portaluppi. Casiraghi, who was born in Italy but has long been based in Paris, had already been won over by architecture and had worked for Dominique Perrault–the architect responsible for the François Mitterrand Library in Paris–and Dimorestudio. “But when I spent time at Villa Necchi,” he explains, “I realised that my true love was interiors. I loved all the details–the handles, the curtains and so on–and so I decided to switch paths.”
In a stroke of luck not long after, a Parisian design agent gave Fabrizio carte blanche to decorate his apartment in Venice. The project brought the fledgling designer a lot of attention, allowing him to strike out and launch his own design firm in 2015. But it is his own Parisian apartment that now stands as the embodiment of his signature style. After two years living and renting in the French capital, Fabrizio decided it was time to buy his own place, but “I needed something not too big,” he says “as I was travelling all over the world. I had projects in New York and Hong Kong, so I wasn’t spending a lot of time here.” He landed on a perfectly proportioned apartment “in a beautiful neighbourhood, on a beautiful street, with high ceilings. It was just what I was looking for.” It was another stroke of luck as it happened to be the first place he viewed: “I visited it on a Monday and I bought it on the Tuesday. It was very lucky.”
Lucky it may have been, but it might not sound that way to everyone once Fabrizio describes the state it was in. “It was completely destroyed,” he admits, “full of half-painted canvases and clothes everywhere. There was no toilet inside. It took me three months to restore completely.” But wearing both his architectural and decorating hats, it was no feat for the designer to bring it back to a glorious state, foregrounding the two balconies, fireplace and high ceilings that he had fallen in love with, regardless of the mess.
While respecting the property’s past as an artist’s studio, Fabrizio has made it a modern space and tailored it neatly to his life. He added the two arches in the living space, explaining that the ceilings are low here and “if you do something very straight in a low ceilinged space, it can look a bit industrial. I wanted the feeling of softness and warmth that the arches bring.” He also created a bathroom from scratch, enclosing it with new walls, and enlarged the mezzanine where the bedroom is “so that I could walk around the bed.” All the windows, doors and floors were replaced too. “Everything in here is connected but divided at the same time,” details the designer of his apartment’s flow.
The apartment is a demonstration of Fabrizio’s incredible attention to detail at every turn. The kitchen is a particular highlight, especially for someone who admits that they never actually cook. “It’s designed to feel like a boat,” he laughs. “It is very narrow and long so I wanted to play with that. I love sailing and admire the design of boats from the 1950s and 60s where everything was made to measure in wood.” So that’s precisely what Fabrizio did here, making bespoke cabinets from American walnut–a material he is “very attached to”–with zinc countertops and a built-in bench.
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The boat motif extends to the bedroom, which has the feeling of a cabin. The tiny space is set on a mezzanine above the living space and is the one place in which Fabrizio has played with colour. “I have a very calm and simple way with colour,” he details, and while the rest of the apartment is in a soft ivory, with colour introduced through the decorative elements, he decided to treat the bedroom walls completely differently. “I chose an olive green lacquer, applied using a Japanese technique.” It is a big departure from the rest of the apartment and works wonders to create a feeling of separation between the living room and bedroom. The best detail however is the most subtle one: Fabrizio commissioned an artist to paint the constellations on the ceiling.
Although Fabrizio’s apartment is entirely personal to him and designed to work specifically for his life, it is a marvellous showcase of his talent as a designer and his ability to balance varied elements with aplomb. “Every project I do is a mix of three ingredients: collaborations with artists that I love, antique pieces and bespoke elements,” he summarises. It’s a triumphal trifecta that has created a Parisian apartment quite unlike any other.