April 16 2010
“Saturday always starts late. I live right in the centre of Milan, in an old converted cheese warehouse next to my studio (pictured), so first I’ll have a cappuccino and cake at Pasticceria Sissi, then go to the market on Piazza XXIV Maggio and buy whatever food catches my eye. I never plan my shopping. Then I go home and start preparing a meal for the evening. I live alone but often have about 10 or 12 friends over for dinner.
I love simple Mediterranean food and I also cook Turin specialities; traditional recipes handed down from my grandmother that I’ve redesigned.
A favourite is fritto misto, which is like a Japanese tempura with all sorts of vegetables – artichokes, courgettes, fennel, aubergine, cauliflower – in a light batter. Cooking is my way of relaxing and forgetting about things that have happened in the working week. If I think of something that has made me angry, I just chop the onions very, very fine.
I spend the afternoon going to shops and galleries. Spazio Rossana Orlandi is a favourite place: I enjoy seeing the new clothes, furniture and design objects. I’ll have a cappuccino at Pane e Acqua, the restaurant I designed for Orlandi with a mix of vintage and contemporary designs, industrial lighting and wooden tables. Understate is another lovely shop, with modern furniture on one side and antiques on the other. Then there’s Nilufar, a beautiful furniture gallery that always has interesting designs. The centre of Milan is small, so I walk everywhere.
I don’t usually bother with lunch – instead, I’ll pop into Chocolat, which has the most delicious chocolates and ice creams. Then I go home to finish cooking and set the table. I have a huge collection of tableware and like to mix things up with a variety of colours and shapes, and mismatched chairs. It’s like a game deciding where everything should go.
If I don’t have friends to dinner I meet them at a restaurant, where the focus is on food rather than the design of the place. My favourites are Al Grigliaro, a fish restaurant run by a Sardinian family; Gattò, which serves sophisticated Mediterranean food; and Ponte Rosso, which specialises in traditional Roman recipes and is run by a woman who used to be an architect. Sometimes we eat early, sometimes very late; so I could get to bed at midnight or 2am.
Sunday morning starts very late. Sometimes I go to a spa called Culti for a massage but more often I go to Corso Como, one of the few areas where the shops are open on Sundays. Carla Sozzani’s shop, 10 Corso Como, is a wonderful place selling all kinds of well-designed things, and I also like High Tech, a mini department store where you can buy nice things for the home. I enjoy visiting the Triennale on Sundays because it’s in the park. It always has several interesting exhibitions going on, and there’s a bookshop and café too.
On the last Sunday of the month I go to the Naviglio Grande flea market, alongside the canal. The displays are fun and inspiring – but then I find inspiration in most things. It’s a mental attitude. If you look and touch you can always find something interesting – a shape, a colour, a texture. It’s a 24-hour exercise to capture all these elements, and they all go into a big reservoir in my head and pop out when we do a project. Putting the things together is the work. But sourcing them is a way of life.
On Sunday evenings I enjoy relaxing with a novel. I like Stieg Larsson, the Swedish writer, and American novels – anything escapist. Design books are strictly for the week. And I tune into the talk shows on television. I don’t really listen to what they are saying but it helps me to drop off. For all I know, they probably keep talking until Monday morning.”