Domenico Minchilli merges old with new, in classic ways
Italy-based architect Domenico Minchilli does not really think that he has a “signature style”. He does not consider his absolute dedication to retaining the core character of the buildings he restores, a style. It’s all about the space and the client.
“I have been restoring old buildings, historical buildings, mainly. I try to keep the older character of the building, but in a way that makes the clients happy [to be] living in a home that has everything they need to make life comfortable.”
Incorporating modern details and the necessities of our modern life, all the while respecting heritage buildings’ past glory days, is the key to Domenico’s craft. Considering he comes from a long line of architects and engineers, it’s easy to understand his affinity for tradition.
“I knew I was going to be an architect since childhood. I was born into a family of architects and engineers starting with my father, my grandfather and my great-grandfather. It always seemed natural that one day I too would become an architect.”
Domenico often finds himself working with historically registered buildings, like castles, so maintaining the details of a particular time in history is of utmost importance. Dotting the landscape of Italy and Europe, there is no shortage of them, and since people are finally interested in using them as modern living spaces, he has risen up to the challenge.
What does that mean for kitchen design? Well, it can mean figuring out how to make the most of narrow castle windows originally meant for defence with bow and arrow. On the other hand, it can also mean having the care and patience to rebuild supporting brick arches that go back to the 16th century. Not to mention figuring out how to make the most of them in a design (Hint: build an industrial style cooking area on one side and a washing-up area on the other. Add a kitchen island in the centre so everyone has room to operate in the space!).
Though developing a custom kitchen design in a castle is a very particular challenge, the principles of respecting tradition and honouring historical features that Domenico applies to such dramatic spaces, also translate to the typical modern home.
“One mistake that I often see people make is to make a kitchen design that is too extreme. Too trendy. It will be fun for the first year, but will easily become odd and old after a few years.”
His suggestion: “Whisper when designing a kitchen rather than screaming out loud. You will regret that very quickly.”
All of this relates as much to homeowners as it does to young architects and designers. According to Domenico, the key to design that lasts is to avoid over-designing. Respect the building, respect the space, respect the client’s wishes, and a classic kitchen design will soon follow.
“I think that in the end, classic design has great value and usually pays back. There’s a reason why classic design has been so good for so many centuries. I think we really need to learn from it and adapt it to the present.”