On taking over the first floor of a once-abandoned 18th-century palazzo in the Corso Magenta district of Milan, local architect and designer Vincenzo de Cotiis decided to make no structural changes to the 300-square-meter space. Instead, he wiped the apartment of any decorative embellishments added by the families that had previously lived there, and stripped back the building’s layers until he was left with only its raw antiquity. “We spent a lot of time carefully peeling away what had been added by previous owners: years of paint and paper, false ceilings, moquette floor coverings,” says De Cotiis. “What was beneath—in a wonderfully imperfect, worn state—was far more incredible.” De Cotiis, who had long harbored a personal passion for time-worn objects, purposely left the apartment’s crumbling walls untreated, and uncovered each room’s original color scheme; the pink frescos of the library, the embellished greys and greens of the living room ceiling, and the dark green and pink Brazilian marble fixtures in the master bathroom. To this day, the walls—which are never of an entirely uniform tone—still dust those who brush against them with small fragments of plaster. De Cotiis then furnished his home’s bright and spacious rooms with many of his own sculptural creations—all of which were produced in ateliers in Italy and previously showcased in a gallery space in Milan. The sculptures embody De Cotiis’s constant pursuit for what he defines as “perfect imperfection.” All pieces spread across the apartment—including a long dining table crafted from silver-plated brass and recycled fiberglass, a daybed covered in hand-dyed pale pink mohair velvet, and two oddly shaped marble and cast brass coffee tables—introduce the designer’s unique take on the use of reclaimed sources, and are all marked by his taste for highly tactile surfaces and deformed shapes. De Cotiis describes his style as “eclectic”; a combination of antique and futuristic elements, with materials marked by aged patinas or imperfect finishes. It is also mercurial: because of his easy access to beautiful objects, De Cotiis frequently re-curates the apartment with new items for display. When asked to choose his favorite room, he picks the bedroom—an intimate space which he believes encapsulates the essence of his style. Here, the apartment’s original and unpolished ceiling finishes and large wooden window shutters are paired with a low platform bed and a smooth, off-white leather chair, designed by De Cotiis himself. “I prefer to emphasize the pre-existing and then enrich it,” he explains. De Cotiis has termed his approach “anti-design”: Although his objects retain a practical functionality, he hopes that they also come to transcend it, and take on a new life as works of art. TwitterFacebookPinterest De Cotiis has termed his approach “anti-design”: Although his objects retain a practical functionality, he hopes that they also come to transcend it, and take on a new life as works of art. The apartment is located inside an 18th-century Milanese townhouse with a Baroque-era landing outside. De Cotiis peeled back layers of paint in order to rediscover an authenticity that centuries of meddling had obscured. Related Stories Design Issue 19 David Rager David Rager, co-founder of design firm Weekends, shares his tale of LA and Paris and how he makes time for life’s little distractions. Design Issue 19 A Day in the Life: Frida Escobedo With her own firm and scores of global projects in her inventive portfolio, this architect is transforming Mexico City, one artful building at a time. Interiors Issue 19 Prankster’s Paradise Is the nine-to-five grind approaching monotony? Arrive at the office early to even the playing field and invoke mirth for your co-workers. Design Issue 19 In Anxious Anticipation The effects of adrenaline are positively pulse-pounding, but the physical whoosh we feel in our bodies actually starts in our brains. Design Issue 18 Happiness by Design Think more like designers: The strategies employed to create a perfectly proportioned bookshelf can also be used to enhance our personal well-being. Design Issue 18 Sense in Symmetry From radial swirls to mirror images, the natural world often shows that there’s beauty in balance.