Inspired by // Villa Borsani // Casa Libera!

As the Salone del Mobile in Milan rounds up for another year, we were particularly drawn to a retrospective exhibition celebrating Osvaldo Borsani, the visionary figure of Italian twentieth-century design.

An architect, designer, and entrepreneur he transformed his father’s furniture atelier into an international brand, co-founding Tecno in 1953 with his twin brother Fulgenzio. This exhibition, curated by Norman Foster and Osvaldo’s grandson, Tommaso Fantoni opened on the 15 May 2018. It is the first of its kind, at Milan’s Triennale Design Museum. 

In anticipation of this expansive exhibition, the Archivio Osvaldo Borsani invited Ambra Medda to curate a special preview at the Villa Borsani during Salone del Mobile, offering an exclusive chance for the international design community to glimpse the private world of an influential yet unsung figure of design history.

Villa Borsani: Casa Libera! is a celebration of a modernist jewel and a joyous rediscovery of a place suspended in time. The title itself, with its distinctly Milanese connotations, alludes to a feeling of possibility and a chance for people to gather in an unexpected place, not only finding themselves in the historic Villa, but also within the larger setting of Varedo.

Casa Libera! captures the welcoming atmosphere Ambra Medda ( the co-founder of Design/Miami) has created through subtle and specific interventions including fragrance, flowers, and sound. The music selection is by London-based Alexander Francis, who was inspired by the idea of Casa Libera! and filling a vacant space with youthful energy, listening to your parents’ record collection mixed with your friends’ music as loud as you want. 


The Villa which has been unoccupied for nearly a decade has been brought to life through surprising yet considered elements. Ambra has collaborated with Auckland-based creatives including artist Harry Were, florist Sophie Wolanski, and the multi-talented stylist Katie Lockhart, to imbue the still house with vibrancy and soulfulness.

This extraordinary residence is set within 3,000 square meters of gardens that feature ivy-covered pergolas. Visitors are encouraged to enjoy a unique opportunity to experience design history, to spend time in the space and browse highlights from the archive.


The Archivio Osvaldo Borsan (A.O.B.), which has existed since the 1930s, was reconfigured in 1991 with the primary aim of preserving and cataloguing the archival records of a leading figure in twentieth-century Italian design. Located inside the Villa Borsani in Varedo, the Archivio houses material from the 1920s onwards, including thousands of original watercolours, technical drawings, and photographs. It also contains the epistolary testimonies of Borsani’s relationships with the most celebrated artists, architects, and exponents of Italian culture of his time.

The Archivio is the only institution authorised to certify the authenticity of Osvaldo Borsani’s work. The A.O.B.’s board of directors includes Valeria Borsani Fantoni, Marco Fantoni, Tommaso Fantoni, and Federico Borsani.

Tours of the villa can be arranged by appointment only, by contacting Available until 15 September 2018.

Nicky’s World April 2018