Film: Design & Architecture

I Am Love (architecture & interiors)

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After renting the newly released dvd, I Am Love, and watching the film twice, I slipped it into my computer and captured a gazillion frames which I will be sharing with you over the next two days. Today’s post will be focusing on Villa Necchi Campiglio’s architecture and interiors. By using stills from the film and comparing them to photos of the house today, I hope to give you a complete picture. Friday’s post will be about the characters’ lifestyles, which includes their clothing, accessories, and other lifescapes.

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Villa Necchi Campiglio. This magnificent villa, located in Milan, Italy, was re-opened to the public in 2008 after extensive and careful restoration. Designed by the Italian architect Piero Portaluppi and built between 1932-1935, the house was a haute bourgeois showpiece for sisters Gigina and Nedda Necchi and Gigina’s husband, Angelo Campiglio (the family were important producers of “objects in enameled cast iron and sewing machines”). It’s also a showpiece for Italian rationalist architecture, that fusion of neo-classicism and streamlined-but-still-adorned-and-detailed modernism so loved by Il Duce (indeed, rationalism and “fascist” architecture are so closely connected that Wikepedia uses the term “rationalist-fascist architecture”).

Portaluppi had also designed the original interiors. The villa’s soaring, impressively stolid rooms, with their lozenge stucco ceilings, walnut parquetry and heavy sliding doors, convey both an air of grandeur and a strict sense of discipline. In fact, in 1943, the house became a headquarters for the Fascist Republican Party, while the family repaired to the countryside. But when they came back, the original setup no longer made them happy. In the 1950s, 19th-century décor was in vogue among upper-class Italians, and the family called the designer Tomaso Buzzi to revisit the villa’s cold interiors. His tweaks, with the benefit of hindsight, are controversial to purists: among other things, Buzzi brought in ornate fireplaces, tapestries, carpets and wood paneling, as well as antique furnishings. In the words of the film’s director, Luca Guadagnino, “They added some cheesy elements that made the home strangely petit-bourgeois”. Guadagnino used his own set design while filming, and you can see the differences in my photo comparisons.

Fortunately for us, Gigina, who lived longer than her sister and husband and never had any children, died in 2001 at age 99 and bequeathed the house to Italy’s national trust for restoring and preserving historical buildings. After careful restoration this superb villa is now open to the public as a museum.

Exterior and Landscape

(above) The gatehouse looking from inside the courtyard (photo by Giorgio Majno)
(above) The gatehouse looking from inside the courtyard (photo by Giorgio Majno)
(above) The courtyard and pool at night (photo by Giorgio Majno)
(above) The courtyard and pool at night (photo by Giorgio Majno)
(above) The entrance to the villa with ample stained glass windows set in brass (photo by Giorgio Majno)
(above) The entrance to the villa with ample stained glass windows set in brass (photo by Giorgio Majno)
(above) This film still is a night time shot of the entrance.
(above) This film still is a night time shot of the entrance.

The Main Rooms on the Ground Floor

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(above two stills) The main stairway leading to the second floor (known as the "first" floor in Europe)
(above two stills) The main stairway leading to the second floor (known as the “first” floor in Europe)

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(above two photos) As seen today, the stair is composed of walnut root (photos by Giorgio Majno)
(above two photos) As seen today, the stair is composed of walnut root (photos by Giorgio Majno)
(above) In this still, the grand salon appears welcoming and not as cold and cavernous as in the below photo.
(above) In this still, the grand salon appears welcoming and not as cold and cavernous as in the below photo.
(above) the grand salon as it appears today with the former owners’ personal design choices (photo by Giorgio Majno)
(above) the grand salon as it appears today with the former owners’ personal design choices (photo by Giorgio Majno)
(above) These pocket doors separate the smoking room from the entrance hall. And the smoking room in turn leads to the dining room.
(above) These pocket doors separate the smoking room from the entrance hall. And the smoking room in turn leads to the dining room.
(above) The smoking room looks today.
(above) The smoking room looks today.
(above) This still shows a view from the dining room into the smoking room.
(above) This still shows a view from the dining room into the smoking room.
(above) The dining room with the former owners' design choices. Fortunately the film set designers chose to cover those chairs and strip most of the tapestries from the walls.
(above) The dining room with the former owners’ design choices. Fortunately the film set designers chose to cover those chairs and strip most of the tapestries from the walls.
(above) the studio or office (photo by Giorgio Majno)
(above) the studio or office (photo by Giorgio Majno)
(above) Chatting with her husband in the office/studio
(above) Chatting with her husband in the office/studio

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(above) These four photos are stills of the library.
(above) These four photos are stills of the library.

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(above two) views of the library (photos by Giorgio Majno)
(above two) views of the library (photos by Giorgio Majno)

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(above two) detailed views of the library (photos by Umberto Pini)
(above two) detailed views of the library (photos by Umberto Pini)
(above) This still only allows us to peek into the veranda. Though the furnishings are different in the film, the following photos will give you a better idea of how this room is decorated.
(above) This still only allows us to peek into the veranda. Though the furnishings are different in the film, the following photos will give you a better idea of how this room is decorated.
(above) A view of the veranda looking towards the library (photo by Giorgio Majno)
(above) A view of the veranda looking towards the library (photo by Giorgio Majno)
(above) In this view of the veranda and in the one below, I've noticed that the wall of glass windows is actually two walls of glass. The inside windows slide open to give access to a trough for container plants. I have never seen the likes of this before. (photo by Umberto Pini)
(above) In this view of the veranda and in the one below, I’ve noticed that the wall of glass windows is actually two walls of glass. The inside windows slide open to give access to a trough for container plants. I have never seen the likes of this before. (photo by Umberto Pini)
(above) This detailed view of the veranda was included to highlight the sumptuous radiator grille against the outside wall and to see more closely the double wall of glass and the container plants kept within. (photo by Giorgio Majno)
(above) This detailed view of the veranda was included to highlight the sumptuous radiator grille against the outside wall and to see more closely the double wall of glass and the container plants kept within. (photo by Giorgio Majno)
(above) detailed view of the metal pocket door that separates the veranda from the library. In the foreground, Adolf Wildt, 'The Pure Lunatic,' 1930, bronze. (photo by Giorgio Majno)[
(above) detailed view of the metal pocket door that separates the veranda from the library. In the foreground, Adolf Wildt, ‘The Pure Lunatic,’ 1930, bronze. (photo by Giorgio Majno)[
(above) An exterior view of the veranda (photo by Umberto Pini)
(above) An exterior view of the veranda (photo by Umberto Pini)
(above) This film still looks through the gun room (fuciliera) into the butler's pantry.
(above) This film still looks through the gun room (fuciliera) into the butler’s pantry.
(above) It looks like one has to walk through the gun room in order to reach the butler's pantry. (photo by Giorgio Majno)
(above) It looks like one has to walk through the gun room in order to reach the butler’s pantry. (photo by Giorgio Majno)

The Service Areas

(above) Inside the butler's pantry (photo by Giorgio Majno)
(above) Inside the butler’s pantry (photo by Giorgio Majno)

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(above) These two stills show different view points of the kitchen areas.
(above) These two stills show different view points of the kitchen areas.
(above) One of the kitchen areas as it is today. (photo by Giorgio Majno)
(above) One of the kitchen areas as it is today. (photo by Giorgio Majno)
(above) This still is an overhead view of the service stairs.
(above) This still is an overhead view of the service stairs.
(above) The passage from the service stair to the kitchens
(above) The passage from the service stair to the kitchens

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(above) These two stills show us that there is a service passage and entrance to the main rooms on the first floor (second floor in the states).
(above) These two stills show us that there is a service passage and entrance to the main rooms on the first floor (second floor in the states).

The Bedrooms and Bathrooms

(above) The first floor hallway (the second floor in the states)
(above) The first floor hallway (the second floor in the states)
(above) The first floor hallway (photo by Massimo Ripani)
(above) The first floor hallway (photo by Massimo Ripani)
(above) Her bedroom pocket doors in this above still are quite beautiful.
(above) Her bedroom pocket doors in this above still are quite beautiful.
(above) This still shows what's in the same room as the pocket doors.
(above) This still shows what’s in the same room as the pocket doors.
(above) This photo shows you the original decor of the couple who once slept here, Angelo Campiglio and Gigina Necchi. I much prefer the film's decor shown in the previous two photos. (photo by Giorgio Majno)
(above) This photo shows you the original decor of the couple who once slept here, Angelo Campiglio and Gigina Necchi. I much prefer the film’s decor shown in the previous two photos. (photo by Giorgio Majno)
(above) The bathroom used by Angelo Campiglio and Gigina Necchi
(above) The bathroom used by Angelo Campiglio and Gigina Necchi
(above) Nedda Necchi's bedroom (photo by Giorgio Majno)
(above) Nedda Necchi’s bedroom (photo by Giorgio Majno)
(above) Nedda Necchi's dressing room (photo by Giorgio Majno)
(above) Nedda Necchi’s dressing room (photo by Giorgio Majno)
(above) Nedda Necchi's bathroom (photo by Giorgio Majno)
(above) Nedda Necchi’s bathroom (photo by Giorgio Majno)
(above) A third bedroom (photo by Giorgio Majno)
(above) A third bedroom (photo by Giorgio Majno)
(above) The third bedroom's connected dressing room (photo by Giorgio Majno)
(above) The third bedroom’s connected dressing room (photo by Giorgio Majno)

That’s enough for this post. Well, it’s probably too much. Friday’s post on the fashion and lifestyle of this film will be much shorter, but just as beautiful to look at.

(above) Well... so I lied. Here's one more photo still showing a fancy radiator grille cover.
(above) Well… so I lied. Here’s one more photo still showing a fancy radiator grille cover.

7 thoughts on “I Am Love (architecture & interiors)”

  1. ann coffee says:

    These photos were mesmerizing…..will hold on to your post, and really just continue to study each photo….all about taste within every venue…architecture, landscape, clothing, manners, history……really enjoying these,
    Ann

    1. Patsy Ann says:

      Ann, thank you so much! And thank you for being a real commenter. Yesterday’s fashion post was pretty much like “posting in the wind”, because of all the Rangers’ hoopla. I don’t care about sports, but the energy and excitement of this town is very contagious. I have a feeling that posting anything during the World Series may be a waste of my time. But that won’t stop me.

  2. larissa stamp says:

    Just found this. Love it, wonderous architecture.

    1. Patsy Ann says:

      Larissa, yes, indeed. I would love to visit it in person some day. In the meantime, I can visit anytime by popping in the dvd and live there vicariously for an hour or two.

  3. The Lobby Girl says:

    One of my favorite movies… Tilda Swinton, the imagery, the drama and the language and of course, the love.

  4. Letty says:

    I loved, loved, loved the movie. Watched it 3 times. The house is cold. I felt almost claustrophobic — tall walls, narrow rooms is the feeling I experienced while watching the movie but it did not stop me from admiring the architectural style. The decor used for the movie matches the house much better than what was and is there. The entrance is fabulous. The house has personality; very unique. Solid. Strong. Yet cold. If it could talk, it would say “Don’t mess with me.” I don’t have to like all aspects of it, to admire it. Well done, Patsy Ann.

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