Dripping with every era inspired decadence, if you’d have met Britt Moran and Emiliano Salci twenty years ago, it’s unlikely that you’d have been able to place them together as the revered interior design partnership Dimore Studio, behind some of the most luxurious identity-defining interiors, that they are today.
Born and raised in North Carolina around classical highboy mahogany furnishings, Moran was set to attend medical school but decided to take a year out of studying to teach English in Milan. He fell deeply in love with the place which lulled him into a long-term love affair with the city that was solidified by the development of his career, as he quit teaching English to become a graphic designer.
It was in the drinkable city that he met Salci. Hailing from Arezzo, Tuscany, as the son of a furniture store owner, Salci’s childhood was infused with the work of De Padova, Knoll and Vitra. Both working in Milan’s design industry, Moran and Salci met when they were commissioned to work together by Salci’s then boss, designer Giulio Cappellini, and ever since they have been a formidable interior design duo.
Consolidating their individual design talent, they joined forces in 2003 to open Dimore Studio. Subtly working their way through an exclusive, high-profile but confidential client list, they emerged as one of the most ‘in-demand’ interior firms in Europe, and were taking on more public collaborations with brands like Hermès and Bottega Veneta and hoteliers Thierry Costes and Ian Schrager; who were specifically seeking out Dimore Studio’s deeply rooted maximalist and multi-era inspired design aesthetic, that is enriched and modernised by their perfect selection and inclusion of rich, bold colours.
In 2005 they decided to open the Dimore Gallery, an extension of the design studio, “a small selection of things that we were finding for the projects we were doing… it also houses the pieces that we were designing that people kept telling us they loved” says Moran.
In that same year, they participated in their first design week, which is now an annual event in the Dimore Gallery calendar and, as it would seem, is also an event bookmarked by half of Milan, too “this past year we had 100,000 people come and see our show, we had a 45 minute wait outside our door”.
Reflected in their work, their comparable but still differing early life contexts have made them an unstoppable collaborative force. Dimore Studio prides themselves on the variety of eras and styles that they include in the interiors that they curate. “Usually people in our industry are used to working with beauty, with marvelous things. Dimore Studio likes to find beautiful details and aspects in really trashy and decadent places” - and nothing embodies this spirit more than the studio’s site-specific installation for the Mazzoleni Gallery.
Organised in conjunction with the London Design Festival, MAZZOLENI INVITES: DIMOREGALLERY | (UN)COMFORT ZONE, encompasses, in true Dimore Gallery style, both the elegance of the 1930’s and the sexiness of the 1970’s. The exhibition is a part of the “Mazzoleni Invites” series, where individuals or studios are invited to curate and create installations alongside the gallery’s pre-existing Italian Modern and Post-War art collection.
Sitting across from this dynamic duo, their creative chemistry is palpable. “Emiliano has this kind of encyclopedic memory so he’s really good at picking and choosing lots of different things from lots of different periods that I think a lot of people don’t even realise exist” enthuses Moran about Salci. While on paper Moran is the more business-minded of the duo and Salci, the more creative driving force, their respective contribution to Dimore Studio feels very much like a personal labour of love and a product of dedication, despite the studio now being made up of 40 people.
Transforming the Mazzoleni exhibition space, MAZZOLENI INVITES: DIMOREGALLERY | (UN)COMFORT ZONE is made up of five different rooms, each hidden behind walls and only visible through brass detailed portholes, Semaine hurriedly catches up with the two men, of which this project is the brainchild. They have created “spaces of daily life” as Salci describes them, where people “go to the toilet, watch television, sleep. We didn’t want it to look like a shopping window but because it’s an art installation we wanted to push the limits of everything”.
Peering through the circular brass bordered portholes, one cannot help but begin to create a story in one’s head of what took place in each room. Enraptured in this decadent and beautiful world, given clues of who and what the walls have seen, Moran and Salci gave Semaine a special glimpse into the creative vision behind each room. “From the very beginning, when you go to the first window, you’ve got a lady who has kind of a pill problem and then she moves on to a drinking problem and then we move on to a more exasperated situation where it’s kind of a suicide scene, they’re all domestic situations but the same time they push the viewer a little bit” Moran explains.
Unfolding through the different segregated portholes, the viewer is forced into a position of observance. “We like the idea that you’re more of a voyeur, that you have to just examine. It kind of does also give you a more architectural feel to the space” as the divisions guide the viewer through the installation.
While creating large theatrical installations is something that the duo enjoy creating, the predominant focus of Dimore Studio’s time is spent designing stores, hotels, restaurants and some of the most glorious private residences around the world. “Creating spaces that people live in for real” is where they feel their passions are most suited and what they find more rewarding. Their relationship with their clients is straightforward because of their unmistakable style, they ask Britt and Emiliano to “do what we want with them”.
With the entire world of design at their finger-tips and their reputation as the designer's designers amongst those in their industry, Semaine were curious to know whether or not Moran and Salci wish to do anything beyond what they are already, perhaps in the world of film. Hesitant at first Emiliano candidly responds “at the moment to be honest I'm happy with what we’re doing, but maybe one day it would be amazing to do a museum, but a museum is also beautiful because it has to be a neutral box to host beautiful objects so I wouldn’t even know what to do… To be honest I am doing now what I love.”
By Kezia Navey for Semaine.