• at home with
    AT HOME WITH ANTONINO SCIORTINO
    The artisan metalworker offers us a tour of a his architectural marvel of a home in a Milan.
    September 8, 2016  |  BY TARIQ DIXON
    “Our home represents 20 years of life, change and evolution,” says artisan Antonino Sciortino of the house he built with his partner Maurizio, an architect. Located in Milan's Zona Tortona - once desolate, now a thriving center of culture and creativity - the couple's property underwent a similar sort of revival. A former industrial complex left abandoned for decades, the creative couple reimagined the neglected and underappreciated property into an architectural masterpiece - and more importantly, the couple's lifelong home.

    The most unique and eye-catching feature is a modernist staircase crafted from thin, graphic steel rails. The artisan and architect designed and produced the one-of-a-kind piece themselves, a signature style for which Antonino has since become widely known. Raised in Sicily as the son of a blacksmith, Antonino's days in the metal shop are some of his fondest and earliest memories. But it was only after a decades-long career as a professional dancer that Antonino discovered his skill for the craft - now his life's passion and profession.
    We had the pleasure of touring the couple's home during a recent trip to Milan. As fans of Antonino's work (and retailers of pieces he designed for Italian manufacturer Atipico), we were confident that his tastes in architecture and design would align with our own. But experiencing the space in person was even more inspiring than either of us imagined. Striking a perfect balance between comfort and restraint, the space felt warm and inviting, even despite its architectural austerity. A large part of its unexpected charm were its owners - kind and gracious hosts who take pride in creating a space that feels like a true reflection of self.

    View our tour of Antonino's masterfully designed Milano home, and shop some of his original designs, along with other pieces inspired by the space.
  • How did you get your start in metalwork?

    I actually started when I was very young. I grew up in Sicily where my father had a metal shop, and I went to work with him as young as eight years old. Sicily has changed a lot over the years, but it wasn't always the safest place. My father would take us to work with him to keep us off the streets and out of trouble.

    As a teenager, I went to work with my brother, who was also a blacksmith. That's where I really learned the technique and developed the passion. But then my career took a very different path and I became a professional dancer. It wasn't until several years later that I would develop metal work into a career.

  • What type of dance?

    Television and musical theatre, mostly. I was actually in the first Broadway-style musical to ever come to Italy. I was 25 at the time and "A Chorus Line" had arrived from New York. Italy has a deep tradition in opera, but this style of musical was completely new to the country. I was casted in the production, but originally, it was only picked up for a six month trial, since no one knew how it would be perceived by the public. It ended up doing really well, and opened the door to more musicals in Italy, which provided me a lot of work throughout my career.

    Later, I worked as a dancer and choreographer for artists like Ricky Martin and Enrique Iglesias. I did a lot of their work when they came to Italy on promotional tours. I was famous in Italy for a bit, but only in my little country, haha!

  • shop the story
    Antonino Originals
    A series of metalworks designed by Antonino - some crafted by the artist himself, others produced in partnership with Italian manufacturer Atipico.
  • He asked me, “But weren't you a blacksmith?” and from there, we bought a welding machine and set up a studio in the basement.

  • What prompted the transition back to metal working?

    Well, I turned 40 and my body isn't the same as it used to be, haha! But around the same time, my partner Mauritzio and I were working on our home and needed something made of iron...I can't remember exactly. Anyway, he asked me, “But weren't you a blacksmith?” and from there, we bought a welding machine and set up a studio in the basement.

    I decided to give myself six months to see if I could make this into a career. I took some of my pieces to a small shop here in Milan and they ended up buying twenty or so pieces - a little table, a few sculptures and some other things. From there, it just took off. I started getting requests from different publications for photo shoots and then one by one, different projects started to come along.

  • How did your career evolve into the role of “designer,” partnering with the various manufacturers you now work with?

    I actually don't consider myself a “designer.” I'm more of an artisan. We're different from designers in that our role includes the realization of the object. For us, it's as much about the craft, as it is about the design. The result may not always be as perfect or as regular, but each piece is a little bit different, and has a unique soul, in a way.

    But we do partner with different manufacturers in the role of designer, but the relationship is a bit unique. We provide actual prototypes that I created, rather than technical details. The manufacturer will then translate that into a version that they can produce. In some cases, they may change the material or certain dimensions, and we'll work with them through those different stages of development.

  • I actually don't consider myself a “designer.” I'm more of an artisan. We're different from designers in that our role includes the realization of the object. For us, it's as much about the craft, as it is about the design.

  • shop the story
  • We built the house about 20 years ago, back in 1997. It was a real opportunity because back then this part of town was completely abandoned. We could get a much bigger space than in the city center.

  • Can you tell us about the house? How did you find it?

    We built the house about 20 years ago, back in 1997. It was a real opportunity because back then this part of town was completely abandoned. We could get a much bigger space than in the city center. The building itself used to be the office space for an industrial company that left it abandoned in the 60s. It was a huge property, so we decided to divide it with a friend and develop the property together. Maurizio is an architect and my brother is a contractor, so we were able to do all of the work ourselves. We were lucky because if we didn't like something, we could tell my brother “no” in a way that wouldn't to another professional, haha!

    We actually divided the house again a few years ago. We realized that it was too big for us, to the point where it felt impersonal. It didn't feel like a home when you have to walk five minutes to get from the bedroom to kitchen. So we decided to portion one half of the property and give it to my sister.

  • The interiors are just as lovely as the architecture. How did it all come together?

    Our home represents 20 years of life, change and evolution. I can't really say that there's a defined style, as we've mixed and matched so many different pieces from both of our lives. It's hard to describe, but it's about creating harmony in a way that feels like home. There are certain pieces that we'll see and both love, but we know that it's not right for our own home.

    We do love mid-century design, so many of the furniture pieces are from that era. We also have pieces from our family. Like this chair - it was my father's, given to him by his mother. The plants actually grew from little pieces that we plucked from my family's home in Sicily. We put them outside in the in the summer, and they've just grown that large over the years. Our home really does tell a history, and I love that we can look at certain pieces and remember what we were doing at that time.

  • It's hard to describe, but it's about creating harmony in a way that feels like home.

  • Our home really does tell a history, and I love that we can look at certain pieces and remember what we were doing at that time.

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