Cover The living area of Casa Lana, an apartment designed by Ettore Sottsass that has been reconstructed as a permanent installation at the Triennale Milano museum in Italy

Decades before shoebox apartments became more commonplace in cities, the Ettore Sottsass-designed Casa Lana was crafted as an ingenious solution to a compact floor plan; it's now displayed as a permanent installation at Triennale Milano, a design museum in Italy

Long before the idea of a multifunctional interior became commonplace, celebrated Italian architect Ettore Sottsass had already designed an apartment with such versatility in mind.

First conceptualised in 1965, Sottsass envisioned Casa Lana as “rooms within a room” for lithographer and painter Giovanni Lana. Now, this iconic work has been faithfully reconstructed as a permanent installation at Triennale Milano, an art and design museum in Milan, Italy.

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This interior concept offers clever solutions to a compact floor plan while creating a cosy haven; and many of these ideas are still highly relevant to contemporary small apartments.

A central wooden structure creates sections for various activities, including a central seating area for socialising and other leisurely pursuits; Sottsass himself described it as “a little piazza is created, where one can move and meet”.

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The wooden structure also cleverly incorporates cupboards, shelves, and foldable tables that can be tucked away when not in use. Its use of geometric motifs and colourful soft furnishings connects to the playfully exuberant design language of the Memphis Group, the iconic design collective from the eighties that Sottsass had co-founded.

Besides getting up close with this inspiring interior, visitors will also get to learn more about the design legend’s creative process through a series of accompanying exhibitions led by curator Marco Sammicheli.

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