STEP inside Lia Di Gregorio's apartment in Milan and all thoughts of the everyday depart. You are entering a sophisticated space that's at once pared-back yet totally personal.
Tortona, the area Gregorio lives and works in, was once a sleepy, warehouse-filled neighborhood southwest of Milan's center. Then in 1983, Italian Vogue art director Flavio Lucchini and photographer Fabrizio Ferri opened photographic studios in the area.
In the years that have followed, Tortona has become a magnet for the city's creative set, with designers and photographers gravitating to the empty warehouse spaces, creating a new fashion and design district.
Gregorio's space there is somewhere both to live and work.
"I thought it would be nice to work and live here, and I very much enjoy the neighborhood," she said.
Her jewelry avoids the overstated, breaking from traditional schemes, challenging positions and proportions. Gold and other metals, precious stones and pearls are used to express ideas, metaphors and signs. Geometries are interrupted by unexpected elements.
Gregorio's workshop is where designers, goldsmiths and other craftsmen meet, collaborating on visions and creativity.
Her 70-square-meter studio-style home, on the second floor of the adjacent building, which she recently moved into, is where she escapes into a tranquil space.
The apartment had a different layout when Gregorio first saw it. It took her more than two years to renovate and to create her light-filled ideal home, using an understated color palette and a mix of treasure finds and designer pieces.
Rather than cluttering the space with spectacular adornments, Gregorio has instead overlaid it with a few simple, well-loved pieces.
"I wanted a simple, relaxed atmosphere," the jewelry artist explained.
"I enjoy living and working in spaces with the minimum amount of furniture possible. The world around us is full of visual information, so I feel better in simply decorated spaces."
But less is often more, as this home, with its simple yet stylish interior, proves.
White walls act as the backdrop to a palette of materials such as wood, steel and linen. "White is a neutral color, perfect for a place full of light. And it's easy to combine with other colors so that I can add new ones from time to time," Gregorio said.
Subtle touches and eye-catching pieces are evident throughout the space; from the dining and living area all the way to the secluded bedroom. These help ensure that while the interior is uncluttered, it is never cold or cliched.
Gregorio also emphasizes the importance of functionality in her home, with the option of moving furniture whenever she feels.
A staircase leads to Gregorio's home and passing through the petite hallway you find yourself in a large, light living and dining room. A long wooden table is next to the open kitchen and a linen covered sofa is complemented by floor lighting.
Gregorio's seemingly effortless style is in fact the result of lots of hard work. She dramatically altered the previous layout, creating a main living space that included an open kitchen, then a bathroom and a bedroom behind a wall.
The living and dining area is where Gregorio eats, cooks, has meals with friends and works, if she wants to work at home. It's where she spends most of her time at home.
The designer likes to use custom-made furniture and mixes pieces of different styles and periods.
She sources home decor items from contemporary furniture stores, vintage shops and flea markets.
Though Gregorio spends most of her time in her spacious living area, her favorite area is the bedroom.
From her bed she can gaze out to the pretty, plant-filled terrace. The space is intimate rather than purely functional.
A well-balanced mix of comfort and practicality, the house has been tailor-made to serve the talented jewelry artist.
ASK THE OWNER
Q: What's the best thing about living in Milan?
A: The mix of interesting minds
Q: Describe your home in three words.
A: Pleasant, bright, modern
Q: What's the first thing you do when you get home?