Those who dismiss Milan as a Brutalist concrete jungle may have simply never looked beyond the city’s closed doors. Now, its most beautiful private entries are brought to life in a beautiful architectural book called “Ingressi di Milano” (Entryways of Milan), which will be feted during Milan’s annual Salone Del Mobile furniture fair this week. The book, painstakingly researched by the German editor Karl Kolbitz, celebrates 144 spectacular entryways to Milanese residential buildings that run the gamut from quiet midcentury Modernism to all-out graphic abstraction. The ornate residences dispel the reputation of Milan as Italy’s “ugly city,” a label bestowed upon it in 1921 by the Novecento architect Giovanni Muzio and rarely shaken nearly a hundred years later.
The book highlights everyday spaces with the most unexpected details: Planes of alabaster, grandiose panels of tufted leather and trompe l’oeil stained glass all feature alongside a myriad of richly hued marbles from across Italy framed in bronze, plaster and terrazzo. Kolbitz enlisted collaborators such as photographers, architects, writers and stone specialists to contribute to the book: There is an essay on indoor plants and another on ceramics as well as intimate stories from addresses dotted across the city. As Kolbitz writes in the introduction: “As a kid growing up in reunited Berlin, surrounded by socialist housing blocks and unkind reconstruction efforts, Milan felt like a place where the 20th century had grown both effortlessly and elegantly.”
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