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Italian Apartment in Beijing

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Nostalgia is a feeling that can cause a lot of mental discomfort. But sometimes it is good. An Italian family that moved to Beijing three years ago has wrapped homesickness in design style that pervades their whole interior.

Italian Interior in Chinese Apartment

The owner of the apartment, Giuseppe Rao, works at the Italian Embassy as a consultant on industrial technologies. He was born in the town of Ivrea in northern Italy, his parents were employees of the Olivetti head office – the legendary producer of designer typewriters. In this regard, Giuseppe was immersed in the world of genuine design since his childhood.

Italian style in Chinese apartment

Italian style in Chinese apartment of Giuseppe Rao and Carmela d’Urso

His wife, Carmela d’Urso also shares interest in design and art. While furnishing their home in Beijing, the couple made ​​the history of Olivetti typewriters as a recurring theme of the decor. Not only the machines are placed throughout the apartment, there are also image, books about the history of the company and the things created by designers who worked for Olivetti at different times, for example, Ettore Sottsass.

Olivetti typewriters

Olivetti typewriter

The first thing a guest sees is the console, where under the glass there are five colored typewriters designed by Marcello Nizzoli. There is a painting on the wall: at first glance, it has some flowers in the fog. In fact, this is a map of Italy, on which the pins of national flag colors (red, white and green) indicate places, where the Olivetti plants were located.

Kindergarten is also a close theme for Giuseppe and Carmela. They have a seven year old daughter. And the girl’s name is Asia.

Carmela and her daughter Asia

Carmela and her daughter Asia

With all the focus on Italian industry Giuseppe is keenly interested in Chinese culture. In his bedroom there is a Tibetan carpet and a small wooden model of a temple, Chinese vases in the hallway. Beijing is a very nice place to be a family of foreigners, as Carmela says. They love to go to markets and look for unusual things. Giuseppe collects Chinese dish, and Carmela collects boxes. And both of them are partial to painting.

In the selection of the pictures the manias of the both are clearly read. First, there are eighteen paintings by Lauro Benedetto, devoted to the history of Olivetti. Giuseppe met Benedetto in Ivrea, bought his first artwork and ordered other seventeen. Secondly, all the rooms are decorated with paintings of the young artist Meng Houtszyunya whom Giuseppe discovered in Hunan. They depict mostly parks.

Italian and Chinese pictures

Chinese picture with Italian spirit

“This is China!” says Giuseppe, pointing to a picture in the dining room. There is a boy and a man with the bike looking at the water. And the scene reminds of Italian neorealism. Here it is, a real cultural exchange.

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Alicia Kim

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