Real Estate / Houses

The House in the Woods

Stunning Eco-Friendly Home Blends Into Its Unique, Lush Surroundings

BY // 12.07.15
photography Alessandro Paderni

The name Moroso is legendary for producing some of the most fashion-forward and technologically advanced furniture in the world. Over the decades, artistic director Patrizia Moroso has taken the company her family founded in 1952 to new levels, producing cutting-edge collections with artists, architects and other notables such as Patricia Urquiola, Tord BoontjeRon Arad, Tokujin Yoshioka and Doshi Levien.

But it is with Spanish architect Patricia Urquiola that Moroso is most closely associated — Moroso and Urquiola are best friends, and the two have produced multiple collections together. So when Moroso decided to build a house from scratch in her hometown of Udine, Italy, where the company is based, she naturally chose Urquiola to design it. (Urquiola brought in Milan architect Martino Berghinz to partner on the project.)

“It’s an incredible piece of land, about 9,000 square meters of an old abandoned garden” that borders public parkland, Moroso said by phone from Udine. “When I saw it, I called Patricia right away and told her I wanted her to design a house for me. We are very close.”

Moroso wanted the house to disappear into its wooded setting, so Urquiola clad the 10,000-square-foot abode in cedar with a black painted roof, which Moroso likens to tree bark after a rain. Windows and doors are painted oxblood red, “like the leaves,” she adds. The black and red palette is Moroso’s favorite, and the red reminds her especially of the color of the dirt in Africa, where her husband, Abdou Salam Gaye, is from (together they have three children).

It’s an environmentally conscious house, with cork-insulated walls, solar panels and a cistern for watering plants. Inside, nature is a large part of the design scheme. “I asked Patricia to make the biggest windows possible, so that I could feel like I was living in the garden,” she says. “Many of the walls are totally glass. In summer, it’s like living in a jungle. In the winter, it’s like living in the snow.”

A seating area referred to as a ‘conversation pit’ features Moroso’s favorite black and white color scheme along with African-inspired art and furnishings.

The first floor is all about hosting family and friends, whether for small gatherings or extended stays. There’s a catering kitchen, indoor pool, guest room and a Turkish bath — the Middle Eastern variant of a steam bath. The children’s playrooms are nearby, and a main seating area includes furniture designed by Urquiola and contemporary Iranian rugs.

A conversation pit, inspired by Gaye’s African heritage, features a red, black and oak palette, along with an oversize photograph by Boubacar Touré Mandémory, a contemporary artist included in Moroso’s M’Afrique exhibition for the 2009 Milan furniture fair. Upstairs are the private family quarters, which feature a small living room, dining room and kitchen, along with bedrooms.

Urquiola corralled Moroso’s collection of one-off furniture by the designers she works with, including Ron Arad, and a mishmash of prototypes and factory rejects. “Patricia made everything clean and organized out of my mess, because I have a lot of things I love: big pictures, prototypes of furniture. Everything comes from the company. I can change out furniture anytime I want.”

Inspired by modern houses from the 1950s, the interiors are “very clean, but very warm with lots of wood,” says Moroso. “In the end, Patricia did the perfect, simple house.”

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