Get inspired by unique homes – Nicolò Castellini Baldissera
Eclectic playfulness in Nicolò Castellini Baldissera’s apartment in Milan
Photography Guido Taroni
› In the entrance, a portrait by the owners grand mother; a Seychelles turtle bought in Paris; and a mural by Pictalab.
Nicolò Castellini Baldissera was born in Milan, in his ancestral home Casa degli Atellani, a fine example of the greatness of Italian Renaissance. His family belongs to a renowned Italian design dynasty, and from a very early age, he grew up surrounded by art and architecture: his great grandfather was the prominent architect Piero Portaluppi, and his father was the well-known architect and co-founder of C&C Milano, Piero Castellini Baldissera. With such a rarefied background, it was natural for Nicolò to continue in the tradition of art, architecture and decoration, so in the late 1980's he moved to London to study History of Art.
Since then, he has been living nomadically between Milan, London and Tangier, cities that have hugely inspired his work. Lately, his passion for Northern Morocco has brought him to venture into several projects of restoration of derelict local dwellings, mainly in the magical city of Tangier. This body of work led to a beautiful book published by Vendome Press, "Inside Tangier". The sustainable furniture line Casa Tosca was born from his passion for mixing antiques with modern and the bohemian feel of rattan. It is produced between Morocco and Italy and is available from selected showrooms worldwide. Nicolò is currently working on his second book with Vendome Press, "Inside Milan", launching in September 2022.
Tell us about your home?
When I moved in, it was a completely white canvas, all white with neon lights and a white leather sofa! I could see the potential and decided to work around the objects and furniture I brought with me from London to transform the environment by adding the right colours.
How would you describe your style?
I am eclectic, and I love bold colours, always mixing antique historic pieces with objects of modern references.
› In the living room, a velvet sofa upholstered in C&C Fenice, octagonal mirrors by Casa Tosca and a 16th-century armoire painted with a view of Montalcino.
The favourite part of my home is the living room – it’s where I usually host friends and family and where we exchange stories and ideas
› In the living room: a vintage Fornasetti Architettura cabinet that displays a collection of tortoise shells, a sculpture by Nicola Lazzari and a Murano glass table lamp.
How much have your family’s interest in art and antiques impacted your choice of career?
A lot! I grew up with two art collectors and surrounded by beautiful and rare objects that really sparked my curiosity and shaped my taste.
When did you know that you wanted to become an interior designer?
Apparently, already at the age of six, I was moving furniture around, always trying to rearrange objects in my parents’ and grandparents’ home. I think I had a natural call for interior design.
What has shaped your interior style? Have other decorators influenced you?
My own father, David Hicks and obviously my great grandfather Piero Portaluppi, as I grew up in one of his buildings where I took in all the details and shapes of his signature style.
What’s your favourite room to design?
Libraries, sadly, it happens rarely since it’s less popular to have a bespoke one these days.
What is it that fascinates you about antiques, and how do you interact with the pieces in a modern home?
It’s what I do best; mixing antique pieces that I usually discover around the world with modern objects. One could say it is the essence of my style.
› An Empire chandelier centring the dining room paired with a mirrored dining table. The photography is by Didier Massard and hangs between a pair of Alma appliqués by Allegra Hicks.
I grew up with two art collectors and was surrounded by beautiful and rare objects that really sparked my curiosity and shaped my taste
› A desk by Guglielmo Ulrich in the main bedroom and a vintage Gucci writing kit that belonged to Castellini's grandmother.
What makes a home personal?
The style and story of the family that lives there every day.
Who are your favourite artists?
I'm eclectic, and it's impossible to mention just a few, from Egypt to Jasper Jones, to Roman antiquities and the Italian Renaissance.
Tell us about an piece of art or object that means a lot to you?
It's a small architectural model reproducing the Taj Mahal in ivory that I purchased in Jaipur during my first trip to India when I was about 15 years old. I will never part from it!
What are you looking for at auctions?
Anything that strikes my attention for its peculiarity.
› A chandelier from Castellini Baldissera’s maternal grandmother hangs over an 18th-century wrought-iron bed, the walls in trompe l’oeil are painted by Pictalab.
What inspires you?
Details, I always look around when I walk. I have a very visual memory and I notice shapes, patterns and colours of everything that I encounter
Your top three favourite spots in Milano?
Casa degli Atellani where I grew up, La Scala Theatre, Museo Poldi Pezzoli, a little gem that I always recommend to visitors
Bid on objects curated by Nicolò Castellini