It was in the Hotel Valsana in Arosa that we first became aware of Swiss interior architect Carlo Rampazzi. After our recent stopover at the Hotel Eden Roc in Ascona, which also bears Rampazzi’s signature touch, we just had to get to know the star designer in person.
We find ourselves in Vicolo Ghiriglioni, a picturesque side street in Ascona, a stone’s throw from the busy lake promenade. We are standing in front of number 3, the Rampazzi family’s house.
The many renters of yesteryear are history and the palazzo now houses Rampazzi’s “Selvaggio” studio, along with his private quarters. And it has a luxuriant garden.
Rampazzi already awaits us at the entrance to his studio.
Walter almost drops his camera when he catches sight of Rampazzi’s pants and the matching boots.
And he is also momentarily at a loss for words (which happens rarely…). I jump in to make the introductions and express our delight at being invited inside. Walter, his gait a bit unsteady, trails along behind us.
Everywhere in Rampazzi’s domain are piles of colorful fabrics with all conceivable and inconceivable patterns, audacious furniture pieces, kitschy furnishings and decorative objects, opulent lamps and colorful plush toys.
The latter is a leopard-tiger hybrid (a.k.a tigard in real life), but in the shape of a teddy bear with green foot pads…and so it begins.
While waiting for Walter to finish his reset and start photographing, I ask Rampazzi how he came to his stellar career as interior designer.
The story of Studio Selvaggio
The architect-designer tells us how as a young man already he discovered his passion for furniture and colors.
There came a day in his youth when he heard of a furniture fair in Milan in Italy. He went there happy as a lark and grandiosely ordered his first few pieces of furniture. It did not exactly please his parents, since he stuck them with the bill.
“Still, my parents gave me the money to start my own business – but with this proviso:
This is the first and the last seed capital you get — and leave our family name out of it!
So the the cheerful color maven tells us, shaking with laughter.
This parental injunction in part was what led him to name his design firm Selvaggio (“wild” in English) – and the more I find out about our eccentric bird of paradise, it strikes me as not being all that far off the mark ;-)
In any event, I’m still surprised how openly and humorously the renowned star designer shows us around his studio, stops by his work table and repeatedly excuses the chaos confronting us. His studio at the moment really is topsyturvy, because he wants to dress some of the walls in a new coat of paint.
His office table, it must be said, is the big one without a computer. He’s never learned to use one and leaves the digital communication to his employees, as we find out later.
Orange after all?
Next, we head out to the studio’s interior courtyard, where there are more designer pieces scattered about.
The lush garden is where he meditates and lets himself be inspired. No wonder so many of his design elements turn out green…
“Feel free to look around,” he says, with an airy wave of his hand before he heads upstairs. “I’ll be right back.”
Finally, I can give free reign to my facial expressions as I get an eyeful of Rampazzi’s mad creations. Oh, dear!
Walter’s face even comes out from behind the camera so he can look at me with ga-ga eyes…
It slowly dawns on me that it takes being a little bit crazy to have the talent for creating such opulent and maximalist designs.
Or it takes a genius!?
One thing is sure: this architect does not follow fashion or what’s trendy. He much prefers to trust the colors and patterns to lead him where they will. And his senses: it so happens that he can feel the right colors.
OK, I concede: then he’s better at feeling them than I am.
Meanwhile, Walter has regained command of his Italian. He would like to know what Rampazzi lets himself be inspired by. “By having conversations with people,” the Ticino native explains. Colors are extremely important in life. “No colors, no joy.”
By the way, we learn that Carlo’s favorite color is…orange! We could have sworn it was green…
The uncrowned king
The Tschuggen Hotel Group, for three generations owned by the Kipp-Bechtolsheimer family, has been a Rampazzi client for decades(!). And, not just in the Eden Roc luxury hotel but also in the Carlton Hotel St. Moritz or, of more recent vintage, the rooms and suites in the Valsana Arosa are the handiwork of our “wild” designer.
To the question, what working with the younger generation of the Kipp empire is like, Rampazzi answers:
Very good. I’m also young, after all !?
When he was (even) younger, he always liked working with older people, so he could learn from their experience. These days, he values working with the younger ones. He is convinced it helps him stay young as well. That said, gauging by temperament and agility, he’s definitely in good shape. Kudos!
Ever since this conversation, Walter and I admit to being rather fascinated by the uncrowned design king of Ascona. As we take our leave, Rampazzi gives us warm hugs and thanks us for the visit and the nice smiles we bestowed on him.
I’m flattered and begin to understand how you can fall under the spell of this star designer with his slightly crazy creations and colorful ideas.
And let him possibly furnish our apartment or hotel. Let me sleep on that idea a bit…
Selvaggio SA – Architetto Carlo Rampazzi
Vicolo Ghiriglioni 3
Telephone: +41 91 785 19 10
For more: selvaggio.ch
(As of March 2018, viewing the website requires a Flash player).