A CURTAIN OF GIOGALI HOOKS BY VISTOSI FOR RODOLFO DORDONI’S SICILIAN RESIDENCE
ELLE DECOR April 2023
A late eighteenth-century building, a stone’s throw from the Duomo and the central Corso Vittorio Emanuele. It is just a few metres from the overlooking Church of San Carlo, visible from the terrace cut out in the main floor. “It was originally a hotel, then the residence of a magistrate,” explains Rodolfo Dordoni, the owner and author of the interior design together with his partner, Gordon Guillaumier. “The building, which is on several floors around a green courtyard, was uninhabited for almost fifty years. But the spaces retained the charm of the golden age. So we intervened by subtraction, freeing the rooms from superfluous walls and reconstructing the hidden vaults,” says the architect, who likes to spend the winter in this residence. “In summer, Gordon and I prefer the house in the country and life in the open air. Here we like to gather the family especially at Christmas and other holidays. It is the perfect place to enjoy Noto: close to the cafés on the Corso, where you can read the newspaper and spend time with friends. It is a townhouse, so we chose to preserve these characteristics,’ he continues. “The beautiful ceiling decorations and all the Caltagirone ceramic floors, untouched by time, have been preserved. While new majolica tiles with a geometric design and unusual colour combinations have replaced the old cement tiles”. The sequence of spaces is a continuous surprise, starting with the majestic staircase leading to the main floor and the entrance dominated by a scenographic plaster bust. “Doors on either side lead to the reception area and private rooms. Opposite we see a work by Francis Bacon with an orange background, among the many works of art on display. “We had fun grouping them together with our own logic. In the room preceding the living room, we chose works with a naturalistic imprint: clouds and trees, represented in the two large screens by Giacomo Balla, dialogue with a sculpture in the form of a palm tree, but also with a work by Anne and Patrick Poirier and images of a lion and other animal species. In the kitchen, on the other hand, there are paintings of fruit and food, such as the fish in Mario Schifano’s painting, perfect for decorating the dining area. The real eye-catcher is offered by what was originally the ballroom and now houses the salon bordered by four symmetrically arranged period mirrors. “They were part of the pre-existing decorations that we managed to retain when we bought the building. Among them was the magnificent Venini chandelier, a rare example with all the spare parts stored in the cellar,” the designer confesses, revealing further curiosities. “We even found a crate in which each glass is wrapped with newspapers from the early 20th century with the news of those years still legible”. The walls were originally covered with wallpaper, which had deteriorated over time. “The choice was to peel it off, uncovering the original plaster with the pencil writings left on the walls by the workers during the first works,” he says. Design could not be missing but, again, carefully selected and never taken for granted. From the dark blue velvet sofas, a project out of production by Dordoni for Minotti, a brand for which the architect is creative director, to the long kitchen table, a unique piece made from a sheet of natural aluminium. But also from the oversize Eames table in the dining room, a legacy from the designers’ first Milanese loft, to the flying disk lamp, another rarity by Vincenzo De Cotiis. In the master bedroom we discover other collectors’ items: a Memphis chair, the Ultrafragola mirror and an unobtainable bed, also by Ettore Sottsass. “These are pieces of furniture that we discovered in Sicily from an old dealer with very refined taste. But these pieces, which were considered eccentric, remained in his warehouse for a long time. It was a stroke of luck for us”. – In the lounge, a vintage capitonné leather sofa. In the foreground, ‘Odalisque’, a totem by Ettore Sottsass. In the background, the ‘curtain’ is made of glass modules by Angelo Mangiarotti for Vistosi. The floor is made of Caltagirone majolica on a purple and green striped pattern. The walls, as in other rooms in the house, have been deliberately left bare, after the old wallpaper has been removed. In the room intended for playing cards, on the wall is ‘Study from a human body’, an important lithograph by Francis Bacon. Table with enamelled lava stone top and vintage leather and wood chairs. Floor designed in Caltagirone majolica. Opposite page, the apse of the Church of San Carlo visible from the terrace on the piano nobile. Two views of the kitchen, with masonry cooking area and original flues. The steel stove module designed for Dada stands out on the top. Next page, around the dining table with a natural aluminium top, a one-off design, chairs by Charles & Ray Eames, Vitra. On the front wall, a work by Mario Schifano and, below, ‘Still Life’ by Alfredo Bastien, works depicting food like all the works chosen for these rooms. In the master bedroom, the brass and glass bed designed by Ettore Sottsass stands out. Palace armchair by George J. Sowden for Memphis. On the wall paneling, left, ‘Untitled’ by Gian Domenico Sozzi and, right, ‘Cain’ by Wilhelm von Gloeden. Opposite page, the room’s counterfield, Ultrafragola mirror by Ettore Sottsass and Tre Pezzi armchair by Franco Albini, with natural Mongolia upholstery, Cassina. The sequence of spaces is a continuous surprise, starting with the staircase leading to the piano nobile and the entrance dominated by a scenographic plaster bust Begin the configuration by choosing from the archive locations or by inserting a snapshot of your environment: the image is loaded immediately.