A “palazzi” in Florence saw a makeover, with a modern twist a few years ago. Although the historic buildings are usually “sacroscant”, Giraldi Assoociati Architetti found a way round this to house their new office space:
“Via nothing more than furnishings, he injected a contemporary flair very much his own.”
Without touching the structure, the personal touch was incorporated with the use of modern furniture that complements the antique space. The juxtaposition of traditional and contemporary styles have been a favourable interior design choice within the industry for a number of years. GAA’s HQ in Florence is a fine example of this design choice. Let me set the scene…
Within the lobby by the main entrance to the office, visitors are greeted by large Renaissance windows, a marble floor that dates back to 1800 and a stack of multi-coloured globes.
The globes in the corner add a splash of colour to the white walls. There are mirrors upon the doors, which reflect the colours present and the sculpture could be a representation of how the company has become a global enterprise having offices in LA and Berlin as well.
Entering the reception area, you are met by a beautiful sheepskin rug that is laid across the tiled floor. A large sofa by Archizoom Associati (dubbed a “cult favourite from 1966”) is situated at the end of the room, below the company’s logo that is has is lit with strobe bulbs.
Surrounded by Renaissance architecture, a modern flair continues throughout the room. There is a paper maché cow sculpture and the main lighting stems from a lacquered steel pendant that hangs from the centre of the ceiling. Elements of gold have been incorporated within the pendant’s shade, reflecting the gold gilded paint on the door panels. All colours, furniture and sculptures all flow amongst each other, accompanying all design choices added throughout over more than 400 years.
The mix between “heritage and modern day” is not the only design influence that Giraldi seems to have desired to create. There is also natural elements that can be found within the office space.
In the boardroom, a solid wood slab held up by a rustic steel frame creates a table. This is overlooked by a 17th century painting on the ceiling… It becomes evident that Giraldi has a keen eye for history as well as nature. Natural, wooden elements flow amongst the rest of the room with panels being set alongside the wall and creating shelf units. Sheepskins also decorate parts of the wall and the room has been fitted with a green carpet that creates an illusion of grass. The contrast between the painting that is man-made and the natural materials creates a beautiful, striking effect. The subtle manner in which Giraldi has incorporated these styles create a flow of elegance that complement and work with each other, rather than clash. Simply stunning.
The upstairs space consists of shared office spaces that continue the themes that have been introduced from the lobby area. The effects are created with the use of flooring and contemporary furniture items, such as white bench desks and glass meeting tables.
In one of the shared offices, there are two oil paintings (circa 1600) within the ceiling that are surrounded by plastered, decorative sculptures. The decorations continue down along the wall to where they meet white desks that have a modern, simplistic style. The thick desk frames are a reflection on the columns and door panels where Giraldi has, again, subtly fused both styles together. Modest bookcases are used for storage, not to overshadow the heritage style in which the desks are situated. Embracing nature, the same green carpet flows from the boardroom into the office area.
Within other office areas you will find the same decadent, flamboyant ceiling and wall features that were designed and fitted throughout the 18th century. Italian noble heritage is embraced within these rooms instead Gold, white and silver wallpaper covers the wall, emphasising a regal feel. Golden chandeliers have been left hanging and the same thick framed bench desks have been installed.
Instead of a green carpet, a red carpet has been fitted into these particular spaces. The scarlet finish highlights the reference to nobility as this colour is associated to the Italian upper class throughout the Renaissance period. Another historical reference that could have been made by using this colour is the Unification of Italy in 1871. One of the leaders of this conquest throughout the 1800s was Garibaldi. His followers were referred to as the “Redshirts” and his achievements are associated to the success of the expedition. Red therefore has become a very strong, important colour to Italian culture. Other office areas have wooden flooring, keeping to natural elements and allowing the heritage of the building to remain in sight.
The flow of green, white and red shades throughout the building all symbolise the colours in the Italian national flag, thus showing the importance of national heritage and pride that Giraldi might have wanted to put forward.
The mix between the traditional and contemporary is a big favourite of mine. Being a history buff, the Renaissance period is one of my best-loved eras. The time-lapse represented new beginnings and change in a positive sense. Giraldi has represented the same feeling within the interior, using the existing architectural masterpiece as a canvas. Respecting history and nature, bringing them into a contemporary, nationally proud style is truly inspirational and gorgeous. A workplace that must feel like a personal palace.
There are a lot more features that have been implemented and embraced. Check out the gallery here. Let us know what you think in the comments below!