FashionTrends house. The Martini Terrace in Milan

There were no happy hours in the 1950s. For the sacred ritual of the aperitif, Milan already deployed a sample of addresses not indifferent to quality, variety and quantity. The taverns remained and not only on the edge of the city, but if you went to the center, starting from that Camparino which is still there, since 1915, at the entrance of the Galleria facing the Duomo, or in the nearby Bar Motta, of meeting places there were really many. A new address arrived in 1957, it was not on the road, but on top of one of the new buildings that were modernizing the face of the Lombard capital. Today that we return to meet more or less cautiously before dinner, it seems right to remember that Terrazza Martini which for a long time has been a true cult of sociality, variously declined between culture and entertainment. The author of the project was Tomaso Buzzi, a very visionary architect who also signs all the other Martini terraces around the world. Today those last two floors in Milan are no longer as they have been for decades and as we told them about Casa FashionTrends in April 2008. Even the panorama that can be enjoyed from up there and that on the clearest days reaches the mountains is a bit changed, enriched with new towers and geometries of glass and steel. It is right that it should be so. Fortunately, the taste and pleasure of a good cocktail must not change …
(Paolo Lavezzari)

At the top of one of the most significant architectures of the 1950s in Milan – the skyscraper in Piazza Diaz di Luigi Mattioni, the elegant concrete and glass slat that stands out perfectly in the center, along the Vittorio Emanuele II gallery – the set up devised between 1957 and 1958 by Tomaso Buzzi for the environments of the Martini terrace it was preserved until the end of the eighties in its original configuration. Of course, the terrace still exists, it is always an exciting space, projected as it is on the spiers of the Duomo, but the precious shell created by that singular designer who was Buzzi has disappeared following renovations. The contrast between the two bodies, the skyscraper and the terrace, could not be stylistically more marked and precisely for this unique, unrepeatable.

© courtesy Tomaso Buzzi Archive, La Scarzuola

Mattioni, an assault modernist, promoter of a development of Milan in height, had conceived the entire complex of Piazza Diaz inspired by the Rockefeller Center in New York. Another sign of the entrepreneurial revival of the city and its dynamism after the war. Buzzi, however, on the trunk international style Mattioni had grafted himself with all his varied quotation culture, between the eighteenth century revisited and post-surrealist flashes. Detaching himself from both the discounted antiquarial intonation (then in strong grip on the wave of the success of the first national antiques exhibition held in Florence in ’59), and from the somewhat pompous demonstration of the “danee” (money) earned, resorting to inefficient majority suffixes (the sofa, the armchair, the velvet); the effect, as the images show, was instead of one dreamy reinterpretation of the time gone by, treated with lightness and irony as a papier-mâché theater.

© courtesy Tomaso Buzzi Archive, La Scarzuola

The delightfully bogus call to scenes of the theme song by Carousel, then prime time debutant, is rightly spontaneous. And in that return all the cultured, esoteric Buzzi, refined interior designer, friend and companion of Gio Ponti, present in the Milanese design debate between the two wars, but which, in those years, opted for a sort of disdainful withdrawal (which corresponds to an unchallenged rise among the favors of the aristocracy and the Italian upper middle class) in the newly purchased convent of the Scarzuola. In the story and memories of Marco Solari, heir and curator of the Buzzi archive, the figure of the architect lights up in a kaleidoscopic sequence of professional anecdotes and lived life.

The same activity carried out for Martini and Rossi – starting with the works for the head office in Pessione near Turin, continued with the other terraces built alongside the Milanese one (the London one, in 1960, on the top of the New Zealand House; of Genoa, in 1965, on the top of the skyscraper in Piacentini in Piazza Dante, cheered with the inclusion of a real wooden ship among the furnishings; of Rome, in 1969, in Viale Mazzini near the Rai headquarters) – it is indicative in this sense; the assignment came from his friendship with another novel character, the count Theo Rossi di Montelera, industrialist and offshore champion whose portrait painted by Salvador Dalí.

© courtesy Tomaso Buzzi Archive, La Scarzuola

Accompanied by a crowd of faithful craftsmen and performers, Buzzi proposes with personal intonation a scenographic idea of ​​the interior design which, unlike France, is destined to a rear position compared to the main line of modernity and design. An idea that, however, precisely for this reason, is full of suggestion. In fact, this is not that slavish imitation of the past that often finds an irritating condescension in the production of the Alps (see the stentorious Louis XIV-XV or Style Empire furnishings published in full Space Age from French magazines). And it is also something very different from the cheap ancient revival of the many furniture makers scattered on Italian soil, between Brianza and Veneto.

© courtesy Tomaso Buzzi Archive, La Scarzuola

Buzzi’s approach is more polite, albeit deliberately (and capriciously) démodé: vi acts within it, as a natural control of taste, a long process of refinement filtered through episodes of high expressive elegance already in the early stages of his career. An example? Those dry furniture, clean in shape and detail (with an eye a little Ruhlmann and a little bit Hoffmann), presented under the acronym The maze (the group made up of Buzzi, Ponti, Lancia, Marelli, Venini and Chiesa) at the Third Biennale of Monza in 1927. Here, at Terrazza Martini, Buzzi’s light touch reverberates the thin brass legs of the stools and armchairs on the palette marble in “Rosso di Francia” of the floor (color and quality of the marble chosen, it seems, also for economic convenience, by Count Theo himself), producing a floating effect in full harmony with the airy atmosphere of the space.

© courtesy Tomaso Buzzi Archive, La Scarzuola

In the twirls around the MR abbreviation and in the “planetary” game of symbols suggested by the chandeliers – where the Martini and Rossi offices around the world are highlighted – and by the papier peints on the painter’s walls Angelo Zappettini (a tour of the earth, from and to Turin, via Milan, Paris, Brussels, London, North America, Africa, East, Madrid and Rome) the principle of interior design unfolds still made of unique “pieces” and craftsmanship executive: nostalgic (as aristocratic) stance against the modern dictatorship of mass-produced furniture, standardized.

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