The recovery and restoration of stone materials for the new coffee bar in the Brera Art Gallery

Enhancing existing structures is a design approach capable of highlighting, even for interior architecture, the value of the original elements.

This is the case of the museum coffee bar designed by Milan-based rgastudio, stone pre-existing elements in stone stand out within the material and chromatic palette of the project and are further enhanced by the new layout.

Rediscovered spaces

The coffee bar is part of the project to redesign the facilities of the Brera Art Gallery curated by director James Bradburne over the last three years. Caffè Fernanda was conceived as part of the museum itinerary and takes its name from visionary director Fernanda Wittgens, who was responsible for re-opening the Art Gallery in 1950 after being bombed in 1943. Located in the former main entrance, the coffee bar project focused on chromatic and material coherence with the new layout as well as a re-interpretation of the architecture of the rooms where it is located.

Coffee bar marble

The splendid marble floors in Fiore di Pesco and the cornices in Rosso Levanto are a legacy of Piero Portaluppi’s installation in the 1950s and have now been recovered and restored. Starting from these elements, the intense octane colour chosen for the walls is in keeping with the various warm shades found in the exhibition halls and also enhances the works of art on show in the coffee bar itself. The bar counter with rounded ends is located underneath a large seventeenth-century canvas: its design re-interprets 1950s furniture and is made from large semi-circular strips of canaletto walnut and a thin antique-finish brass top. Brass, walnut and the reflections of the mirrors of the bottle shelf constantly dialogue with the marble materials in the hall and the works on display. The visual reference to The Kiss by Francesco Hayez, exhibited in the last hall of the museum, ensures that this is not merely a bar furniture intervention but a coherent part of a refined display concept, enhanced by the precious value of the rediscovered marble.


Project: rgastudio – Raffaele Azzarelli & Giuliano Iamele
Collaborators: Viva! (graphic project), Hi Lite Next (lighting project)
Location: Milan, Brera Art Gallery
Completion: 2018
Images: Michele Nastasi


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