At Home With Carolina Castiglioni
We knock on the door of Carolina Castiglioni, the creative director of freshly established Plan C launching on Browns this February. The scion of the family behind Marni and the Italian cult brand’s former director of special projects takes us on a tour of her Milan-based home and tells us about new beginnings and the plan behind her latest venture.
On her background…
My grandparents founded a fashion atelier and my mother [Conseulo] set up Marni, so I grew up in a creative environment. After school, I would spend my evenings in my family’s studio and some of my most treasured and earliest memories are being backstage as a child at shows, the feeling of excitement and apprehension, those times are very dear to my heart.
On her design process...
The Plan C aesthetic is a personal exploration for me that begins with the fabrics, a mix of innovative Japanese and Italian materials chosen for their technical and tactile qualities. Though I take inspiration from art to everyday life, I don’t want the collections to be overly thematic with a pre-organised set of references. Instead I’m driven by the idea of the woman I’m creating for - someone who is creative, who wants to mix different colours and prints in an unconventional but relaxed manner. With this in mind, there is a sophistication to the pieces, but a sense of ease too - sculptural garments are made to be adapted with sportswear inspired waistbands that can transform the silhouettes.
On starting afresh...
After leaving Marni, I thought it would be a real pity to leave all the know-how my family possesses go to waste so I enlisted my brother, Giovanni as head of operations and decided to restart but in my own way. Plan C has two collections a year but no pre-collections or shows, which means that we can truly focus on the clothes themselves and their high quality finish. I was once advised to follow my instincts and not listen to too many external voices when designing and I still stand by that, the litmus test for a particular design is whether or not I would wear it and would I buy it.
On building her home…
The building used to be ceramic tile factory, which I bought with the intention of renovating and renting out. My husband [Federico Ferrari] is an architect and collaborated with the Milan-based Studio 8&A for its redesign, which took forever and was such a dramatic process. We worked so hard on it that by the time we finished the house we couldn’t let it go for someone else to live in. We loved it too much and moved in instead. Though at first it was far too big for us, it didn’t take long for us to fill it with stuff and then the children came along and it worked perfectly. We also redecorated the Plan C showroom recently, which is my grandparent’s former studio. The juxtaposition of wall colours, putty-coloured vinyl curtains and mid-century furniture encapsulates the aesthetic of the collection: a contemporary take on a vintage look.
We’re a family of collectors and the house is full of our various assemblages. After visiting The Vitra Design Museum in high school, I started collecting miniature models of famed chairs from design history and have been doing so ever since. I don’t even know how many I have now, I need to count them, there are so many! My husband collects cocktail making paraphernalia, such as antique soda syphons and shakers, and the children collect pencil erasers, which I did too when I was young. They’re always on the look-out for colourful, strangely shaped ones.
What would your dream chair look like?
As a piece of design, chairs are a barometer of their time and capture the zeitgeist. Whatever the case, it would have to be as comfortable as it is eye-catching.
Who do you most admire and why?
I admire anybody who uses their own personality to make something new, there’s a real bravery to that.
First thing you do in the morning?
Think that it’s too early to be waking up.
Is there a book on your bedside table at the moment?
Yes, it’s Open, Andre Agassi’s biography.
How do you relax at home?
Relax…with the children? Impossible. But once they’re asleep, I have a bath, which is my daily time to unwind.
Modern glass box or a rococo mansion, which would you rather live in?
Glass house with all the mod-cons.
Do you have a favourite colour?
No, but I have favourite colour combinations at any given time though. At the moment, it’s pink, yellow and green with beige, which are all in the collection.
What’s your most treasured item in your home?
My great-grandmothers huge carved, gilt frame from her old apartment. It has a matching console table, which is in storage - the two together are a bit too grand for my place.
Which room do you spend most of your time in?
The sitting room. The Willy Rizzo coffee table and the velvet Osvaldo Borsani sofas really anchor the open plan space along with the concrete fireplace and log store, which my husband designed.
What building would be your dream home?
Lina Bobardi’s 1950 Glass House in São Paulo. Built into a forest-like setting and raised on stilts, the house seems to just floats in the landscape.
When you enter a building, what’s the first thing you notice?
The lighting, even down to the colour of the bulbs and their voltage. It gets forgotten how important an impact it can make to a home, whether it be humble or palatial.
Do you believe that houses can be haunted?
Ghosts aren’t real. At least, I hope that they’re not!
What’re some of your best flea-market finds?
The sideboard in my home is a favourite but the vintage orange and pink velvet armchairs in the showroom that I found in France are so gorgeous and were a steal.
Was there something wanted to be when you were growing up?
A cinematographer; I loved films as a child.
What’s been your biggest fashion faux pas?
Trying too hard to dress like everybody else at school! Which is normal, right? I didn’t really start to dress for myself until I was 16 or 17.
What’s the most exciting thing about the fashion industry today?
You can be yourself and propose your own vision and be respected for that. There feels like there is a lot more space for experimentation and that people are more open to new ideas and not all wearing the same styles.
Do you have a favourite piece from Plan C’s debut?
We included some drawings that my daughter Margherita did when she was three of her brother and friend Bianca as prints over t-shirts, sweaters and bags - I love those.
What’s your best tip for hosting at home?
For me, it’s to move my grandma’s 1920’s glass crystal drink set out of the way. It’s beautiful and I’d love to use it, but I’m afraid a guest might break it.
Where do you find inspiration in Milan?
Hangar Biocca, an exhibition space housed in a former train factory. It’s a really calm and contemplative environment, you can go there to think.