It is said that Milan is the vibrating heart of Italian design but some believe that its soul resides a mere four hours drive away in Udine, a small town in Italy’s Friuli-Venezia Giulia region. This is where Moroso’s headquarters are based – a 58-year-old company esteemed for its high-quality craftsmanship and one of the last remaining family-owned furniture manufacturers in a country that was once renowned for them.
Patrizia seated on Moroso’s Soft Big Easy armchair by Ron Arad with the Banjooli table by Sebastian Herkner in the foreground. Photograph by Gionata Xerra
Today, the brand is run by Patrizia Moroso. A creative director who considers fashion leader Miuccia Prada and architect Patricia Urquiola to be among her close friends, Moroso is hailed as one of the most influential women in contemporary design. Early on she gained recognition for her a handcrafted and multi-cultural aesthetic and has since riveted the design world, giving her the status of a quasi-design prophet. Industry insiders claim she has an infallible instinct for not just identifying the zeitgeist but crafting it. She has propelled numerous debutante designers from Ron Arad and Tord Boontje, to Marcel Wanders and Japan’s Nendo into international acclaim by commissioning innovative sofas, chairs and tables from them.
Creative collaborations come naturally to her and so when it came to her home, Patrizia commissioned none other than her close friend, illustrious architect and designer Patricia Urquiola to design the abode that she shares with her husband, Abdou Salam Gaye and their three children. “The story of Moroso is the story of our relationships with the designers,” says Patrizia. “People with intelligence and with passion whom, inspired by beauty, are trying to change the world for the better. I ask them not to imagine a single object, but to imagine a new world and project it into the future.”
Captured from above, an arrangement of furniture featuring Patricia Urquiola’s Gentry Sofa, her colourful Fishbone tables and the Take Two Line armchair by Alfredo Häberli. Photography by Alessandro Paderni
After incessantly searching and declining new builds and renovation options they happened to discover an unadulterated parcel of land that could be built upon, as Patrizia states, “a wild lush garden bordering a parkland – an earthly paradise.” When it came to the architecture, her design brief for Urquiola was surprisingly succinct: “I simply told her I wanted it to be the most perfect place for me,” knowing well that Urquiola would perfectly envision whatever she desired. The only specification she expressed was the affinity for industrial spaces, since most of her childhood was spent in the Moroso factory. “I love the scale and basic elementary space provided by a warehouse,” says Patrizia. This is flawlessly reflected in the grand two-storey rendition of the designer’s dream space created from scratch by Urquiola, where high ceilings and industrial fittings are juxtaposed with floor-to-ceiling windows. The outcome is a remarkably serene and airy structure with vibrant, welcoming interiors.
The seeds of the inspiration for Patrizia’s home go back to early 2003 during a business trip the two women made to Australia. “Later, we travelled to Uluru (Ayers Rock), right in the centre of the continent,” Patrizia recalls. “There nature feels so powerful and natural.” The colours of that journey settled in their minds and enthused the design of the house, with intense earthy reds, railings that are reminiscent of Uluru’s desert observing platform and a cedar covered exterior inspired by Australia’s minimal box-like outback houses.
On the outside, cedar cladding and an ox-blood red trim makes the 10,000 square foot abode almost disappear into the tranquillity of the surrounding woods, while on the inside, abundant windows let the landscape flow into the rooms. Moreover, the house is environmentally conscious, with densely ventilated and cork-insulated walls, solar panels for energy efficiency and a large cistern for watering the plants. Patrizia and her artist husband Gaye desired their home to be “a haven, but with a seamless connection to the outside landscape.” The house is specifically built at the top of an incline, so that the views from balconies and windows skim the treetops instead of disturbing the wilderness. “Looking out, you feel part of the woodland almost like a bird in its nest about to take flight,” she says.
Another iteration of the Take Two Line chair by Alfredo Häberli and the Gentry chaise longue by Patricia Urquiola add warmth to Patrizia’s favourite spot in the whole house. Photography by Alessandro Paderni
The entire house was crafted “from the inside out” to cater to the family’s love of entertaining. In Gaye’s native Senegal, accommodating groups of extended family and friends is commonplace. Therefore, the first floor of the house comprises the public spaces: a large kitchen, guest room, hammam area and pool, a children’s room and two lounge areas – one, that opens onto a terrace, and the other a sunken seating area that Patrizia defines as “our African place,” for relaxing, eating and listening to music. Meanwhile, the private family quarters are arranged upstairs: bedrooms, a smaller living room, a dining area and a kitchen. “The house showcases an exciting Italian-Senegalese landscape,” adds the designer. Patrizia’s home is an amalgamation of work and personal life, a place that blurs the boundaries between a creative showroom and a personal dwelling. With a tranquil base and a steady hand, she generates balance through Moroso’s myriad from around the globe. “You can go on a journey right here and explore different cultures,” she beams. Patrizia also has a fondness for mixing styles from different parts of the world claiming that “a house is a mirror of one’s life, showcasing a reflection of experiences.”
‘An Italian-Senegalese landscape’ living room in which the furniture blends easily with original art, featuring the Gentry Sofa, Phoenix Table by Patricia Urquiola and layered with Carpet Reloaded rugs by Golran. Photography by Alessandro Paderni
Patrizia’s home is one of artful clutter highlighted by the impressive groupings of furniture, art and accessories. Prominent artwork includes a giant light box by Fathi Hassan and a massive photograph by Boubacar Touré Mandémory – two contemporary artists who were featured in Moroso’s influential M’Afrique exhibition. They sit alongside boldly colourful paintings by Gaye, who, in addition to painting also manages the production of the M’Afrique furniture collection. Meanwhile, the furniture reflects the dynamic colours and shapes that have become the hallmarks of the Moroso brand. This mix is continuously being added to and shifted around to serve as a museum for Moroso’s creative spirit, unleashed here in grand proportions ranging from one-of-a kind items, such as the painted metal chairs of Ron Arad to Moroso prototypes, like the Rift sofa by Urquiola found in the downstairs sitting room. “The past meets the present in a mixture of ancient manufacturing skills and contemporary design,” says Patrizia. Interesting, some of the items simply didn’t make the Moroso quality control cut, like the Arad-designed plastic Ripple chairs that are found on the terrace. Their colours, which were disarrayed in the moulding process, surprisingly made them even more appealing to Patrizia. “I like the nice mistakes from the factory; items made unique by the industrial process,” she says.
It’s this openness to life and the serendipity of the creative process that has endowed the Moroso brand with its continually artful nature. And it’s this very spirit that has also defined Patrizia’s home – an abode that encapsulates Patrizia’s passion for innovation, creativity, colour and texture. A space that is just as visually engaging as its vibrant natural setting. And that, for you, is Moroso.