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  • Interiors

I’LL BE YOUR MIRROR

Worlds collide in a Milanese apartment.
Words by Gabriele Dellisanti. Photography by Giorgio Possenti.

Elisa Ossino and Josephine Akvama Hoffmeyer are long-time collaborators. They first met in 2002 when Ossino, a Milan-based interior designer, approached Hoffmeyer, who specializes in handmade clay tiles and paint at File Under Pop in Copenhagen, during the renovation of her Sicilian home. “We admired each others’ work,” says Ossino.

A decade or so later, the two set up a design studio, H+O, in a spacious 18th-century apartment in Milan’s elegant Brera district. For Salone del Mobile Milan 2021, H+O has transformed the space into I’ll be Your Mirror—an exhibitionoffering visitors the opportunity for self-reflection through a burst of colorful interiors, meticulous tile design and a selection of furniture.

GABRIELE DELLISANTI: When did you first realize you were a good match?
ELISA OSSINO: I asked Josephine for help working with Sicilian tiles for my home, and we immediately realized that we shared a similar vision of design—a contemporary one that respects traditional crafts.

JOSEPHINE AKVAMA HOFFMEYER: We loved that tension between past and present. Old and new. With the tiles, we had ideas about how to transform an existing, decades-old product for a new user. And ever since, when working together, we like to reintroduce this kind of tension. Starting with this very apartment.

GD: Is that how you also approached this year’s exhibition, I’ll be Your Mirror?
JAH: Precisely. It’s a space where all different styles and ages come together into one special exhibition. We have furniture that dates back to the 1930s and from the present. We combined them with careful tile work throughout, even in places that you wouldn’t traditionally cover with ceramic tiles. Again: old product, new ways to use it. We wanted to pull in the past and combine it with our perspective on the future.

GD: What does that future look like?
EO: The pandemic and lockdowns have been very hard for everybody, and we all need a new way to see the future. We wanted to use the space as a way to bring some excitement and joy to life through design. We decided to use a broad palette and brilliant colors to bring positive energy.

JAH: We’ve used color and furniture to encourage our visitors to reflect. We want them to get lost to a point where they almost stop thinking. The whole point of this exhibition—and our work—is to go beyond the eye. We see it as a three-dimensional painting, where design becomes a way to evoke strong feelings.

GD: Which furniture pieces did you choose to furnish the space with?
EO: A lot of design icons. We work primarily with two Danish companies: Fredericia and House of Finn Juhl. They’ve been providing us with some of the best Scandinavian designs, from [Finn Juhl’s] 1938 Grasshopper chair to Børge Mogensen’s mid-century Spanish Chair. We’re putting them into an Italian context, this beautiful old apartment with terrazzo flooring, alongside lamps from Spanish brand Areti and fabrics inspired by the colors of Josephine’s tile work. Because they’re surrounded by such a strange combination of colors and textures, the furniture takes on a whole new meaning. It’s super interesting.

GD: This is the second exhibition you’ve set up in the apartment for Salone del Mobile after Perfect Darkness in 2019. What lessons have you learned since last time?
EO: I think we understand the space a lot better. The light, the rooms, how people experience it. And I think it shows.

5–10 September 2021

Via Solferino 11, 3rd Floor
Brera District, Milan

Opening Hours
10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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