An island on the canals
Located on an island in Milan’s famous canal district close to Naviglio Grande, a former workshop and the flat above it have recently been redeveloped to create a small but charming bed and breakfast with a familiar atmosphere that makes guests feel at home. The typically Milanese type of building – referred to in Milan as a “casa di ringhiera”, literally, a “house with balustrade” – is organised around a central courtyard with access from an open gallery.
B&B Isola Libera occupies a small portion on two levels. It has a small number of rooms: three on the ground floor (with the possibility of creating a large communicating room for four people), two on the upper floor, plus some common areas. One of the few instructions given in the design brief was that each unit was to have an independent access and private bathroom. The renovation project was awarded to Milan-based architecture and design practice Alfaeffe. The owner of the firm is the architect Antonella Ferrari, who between 1985 and 2013 collaborated with late architect Luca Scacchetti, becoming a partner in the firm and working in the areas of architecture, planning and interior design for the residential and hotel sectors. In 2014 she opened her own practice in Milan. In this particular renovation project, the presence of the open balcony simplified the private access to the individual rooms. The finishes exploit a play of contrasts between the clean walls – decorated with installations and artworks that can be purchased by guests – and furniture such as vintage iron tables and chairs and a pickled effect floor. On the sections of floor where the original herringbone parquet was not maintained, the designers opted for CRAFT version tiles from Ceramica Sant’Agostino’s Blendart collection, a metropolitan-style porcelain tile collection that recreates natural wood grain with a pickled finish. The stripped effect is superimposed onto the original gnarled appearance of the wood and undergoes a further transformation, as if the machining processes had left a fascinating and indelible mark of passing time. The special CRAFT format, with a pattern reproducing a series of strips of various sizes, creates a powerfully artistic composition that emphasises the pictorial effect and colour variations of each individual tile.
In the bathrooms, the delicate tone of the walls coordinates with a pale-coloured ceramic mosaic with a braided effect decoration (Shabby series, Mix White Mat, also from Ceramica Sant’Agostino). The combination of these elements creates a modern raw flavour, ideal for use on floors and walls in any contemporary setting. Just like that of B&B Isola Libera in Milan.
Ceramica Sant'Agostino, Blendart series
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): < 0,1%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): compliant
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): compliant
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): compliant
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R10
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): compliant
Crazing resistance (ISO 10545-11): compliant
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): compliant