The Secret Garden

This project by Paola Navone and Zaha Hadid features flashes of electric blue among a botanical oasis in urban Milan.

Wandering through the Brera district during the Milan Furniture Fair is like being a kid in a candy store. There are so many delights to choose from, with a new experience around every corner. Finding The Secret Garden was one of them. A banner outside a small walkway in a back street invited passers-by to enter. A gravel pathway covered with a small black carpet led to an even longer walkway and an immense carpet that featured the names of botanical specimens in its pattern. At the end of this path was the Orto Botanico, an enormous garden bounded on each side by Milanese apartment blocks. Discovering this botanical feast in the middle of one of Milan’s most populous neighbourhoods was a revelation.

The vibrancy of the cobalt blue domes is visible through the fronds of the trees.

The vibrancy of the cobalt blue domes is visible through the fronds of the trees.

Image: Michael Stone

In the garden, beds of flowers, vegetables and herbs were guarded by small gnome-like figurines made of glass, with bright red lampshades set on upturned logs of wood. A series of electric blue domes designed by Paola Navone were artfully spaced throughout the garden, each a different size. These were woven from fifteen thousand hazelnut branches collected from spring pruning. The interiors were covered with silver foil and small window slits allowed visitors to see the treasures inside. These included blown-glass chandeliers by Barovier & Toso – a light fitting of clear glass in one dome, aqua and cobalt blue chandeliers in another, and the most impressive of all, one massive clear and multicoloured glass chandelier. In another section of the garden, a pavilion with inlaid marble surfaces by Citco, designed in conjunction with Zaha Hadid, stood majestic in form yet in harmony with its surroundings. Unexpected beauty in a natural wonderland, this is one secret garden that is more beautiful for the sharing.

Design Practices
Paola Navone
Corso San Gottardo 22
20136 Milano

Zaha Hadid
10 Bowling Green Lane
EC1R 0BQ London

Barovier & Toso
Supplied by Euroluce



Published online: 1 Sep 2012
Words: Jan Henderson
Images: Michael Stone


Artichoke, September 2012

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