Based in New York City,
Labo Design Studio is an architecture concern by Raffaella Bortoluzzi.

Our work is inspired by a set of emotional alchemies made of unexpected choices and inventions.

Clever New York Loft

Rug designer Federica Tondato's Manhattan apartment is filled with art, vintage furniture and bespoke cabinetry to maximise the space available for her legendary dinner parties

[Raffaella] can envisage volumes and little details like no one else.
— Federica Tondato

In the New York loft of the rug designer Federica Tondato is a pair of doughnut-shaped Detecma chairs, created by a friend of her father, the theoretical physicist Tullio Regge. ‘They were the first chairs to be designed by computer, using an equation,’ she says. She and her sister, the London designer Allegra Hicks, posed for the catalogue. ‘I still have a copy somewhere,’ she says. ‘I have booties, really short hair and jeans. It’s so 1970s.’

They are not the only pieces in the apartment with a family link. A Franco Albini desk in the living room belonged to her grandmother; a coffee table is decorated with a map of the United States painted by Hicks; and some Max Sauze aluminium ceiling lights were in her childhood home, but never hung. ‘My mother didn’t like them,’ she recalls. ‘They ended up in the attic, until I rescued them.’ Her dining table, meanwhile, is the same one on which she ate in her youth. ‘I remember hating dining on glass,’ she says. ‘The idea of having to look at my legs and not being able to hide things under the table really haunted me.’

Both Tondato and Hicks were to some degree destined to work in design. Their father, Carlo, was an industrialist and an architecture enthusiast who commissioned a modernist glass house on a hillside outside Turin. ‘It was great,’ Tondato says. ‘The only fault was the kitchen. For a house that big, it was ridiculously small.’ After high school she moved to London to study at the Architectural Association and then followed up with Masters Degrees from both the Domus Academy in Milan and Columbia University in New York. She never planned, however, to become an architect. ‘I always thought the life was miserable,’ she says. ‘They’re almost all depressed and without jobs.’

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“A New York Loft with Clever Storage Ideas” by Ian Phillips originally appeared in Interior Design. Photography by Stephen Julliard & Jean Bourbon.

More about the “Bowery Loft” project in the archive

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