project: Fornari Headquarters
location: Milan, Italy
designer: Giorgio Borruso
"With every job, we try to forget what we've done before and start from zero," says Giorgio Borruso. "The goal is to develop a signature for the client rather than ourselves." He also tries to distill all the possibilities into a single, unified concept and then to develop that in detail rather than offering a menu of choices. From his base in Venice, Calif., Borruso and his associates have created distinctive interiors for several leading Italian apparel companies, including Fornarina boutiques in London and Las Vegas. Recently they completed a headquarters in Milan for the parent company, Fornari.
The 35,000-sq.-ft. complex of offices and flexible open spaces for events and display is located in an abandoned porcelain factory. Borruso helped restore the decrepit structure and created an interior as fluid as the canals that still traverse the former industrial area of Navigli. Lino Fornari anticipated the building's new role as a showcase of the Italian design and fashion industries and acquired the space before it was restored.
"A central spine penetrates the entire volume, connecting the different levels in an organic way and guiding traffic through the building," says Borruso. His sensuously curved concourse extends from the street entrance to a sculptured staircase. Walls and ceiling are fabricated from a lightweight tensile copolymer, backlit by LEDs to achieve different color effects that spill over the white resin floor. The same polymer is used on the underside of the coiled staircase, and there the colored light is reflected off a rectangle of resin set into a textured concrete floor. The structural steel frame is exposed, and the straight beams complement the curvilinear stair balustrade of white-painted plywood.
Borruso has turned this orthogonal block into a stage for fashion and for the Fornari brand. Rough and smooth textures, angular and curvilinear geometries, white and colored surfaces play off each other. Industrial-style light fittings by iGuzzini punctuate the void, and stainless-steel pipes double as handrails and supporting frames for displays. There's a strong emphasis on function along with the illusion that the forces of gravity have been suspended. "Lines turn into a 3-D construction," says Borruso, "tying together the disparate spaces." Speaking for the client, communications director Caterina Aimone describes the showroom as "tangible evidence of the company's expansion onto the global scene: a gracious meeting place that expresses the multifaceted character of Fornari and its commitment to innovation."
“The spatial interplay accented with both natural and artificial lighting brought this project forward. It is one of the few spaces that represents the future and the power of architectural form. Too often workspaces succumb to the efficiencies of function and forget to inspire. This one inspires. It’s the progressive idea of office as experience—pure visual poetry.”
Project: Fornari Headquarters. Client: Fornari. Architect: Giorgio Borruso Design. Structural engineer: Studio Apice. Mechanical/plumbing engineer: project ESA engineering. Electrical engineer: Studio Luce Rema Tarlazzi. General contractor: SO.GE.CO. Specialty General contractor for Entry Corridor, Bar & Staircase: CNC Ambient Azionei E Arredi. Lighting designer: Studio Luce Rema Tarlazzi. Furniture dealer: Ambiente Arredamenti. Photographer: Alberto Ferrero.
Flooring: Resin. Lighting: Iguzzini (linears, uplighting & rectangular pendants), Metalarte (outdoor oversize lamp), Ares (terrazzo uplights), Deltalight (circular pendants in office conference room). Furniture: Kartell, Alivar, Vitra, Ultom, Galli, Lux, Gervasoni, Arper, Magis, Uniform.
Location: Via Morimondo, Milan, Italy. Total floor area: 35,000 sq. ft. No. of floors: 3.5.