ZOAGLI, Italy — Perched on a promontory overlooking the majestic Ligurian Gulf of Tigullio, Massimo Giorgetti’s house is an absolute marvel.
The white circular design reflects the original purpose of the structure: a lookout building during World War I. The reason is visible to the naked eye, as it is nestled in a strategic location – almost hidden by a striking rock with a panoramic view of the gulf and opposite the famous luxury resort of Portofino. Called La Vedetta, which means “lookout” in Italian, Giorgetti has carefully restored the property while keeping its past in mind.
“It’s a place rather than a home,” says the affable Giorgetti, founder and creative director of the MSGM brand. “[My husband] Mattia and I fell in love with this magical place and bought it seeing its potential.”
Giorgetti discovered the small town of Zoagli in 2005, considering it “an incredible place, frozen in the 60s or 70s, where tourism has not really arrived yet. And with Mattia we used to stay at the Castello Canevaro there [before buying La Vedetta] and during our kayak or canoe outings, we got closer to this white structure, so striking under these white tents — to wonder if it was an observatory.
They feel such a connection to Zoagli that the couple married in the city four years ago.
The tents are a strong characteristic and protective element of La Vedetta and, resembling sails soaring into the sky, fit perfectly into the location, adding a distinctive touch to the house.
“In July 2016 we discovered it was for sale and we felt so lucky that the universe had decided to give us this price of nature,” says Giorgetti, who a year later bought the property from five acres on eight natural terraces.
But nature put the brakes on the renovation project as a devastating storm in October 2018 eroded part of the coast in the area and damaged the restructuring work that had already been carried out. “It was so painful to experience this, not for the material loss but for the emotional value of it all. The house itself, which was hit by tsunami-like waves, was remarkably resilient. and the structure didn’t collapse,” says Giorgetti. He still marvels at the narrow exit, also because he’s been told that the house is the closest structure to the water on the entire gulf. .
“La Vedetta has a special energy, and it’s a place where I can detox, it balances my busy, rushed and colorful life in Milan – it’s a place of heart,” says Giorgetti, adding that his homes in Milan , where MSGM is and the ski resort of Courmayeur are full of “creative chaos, art and different pieces of design. Here I cannot place any artwork.
For example, Giorgetti – who in 2019 opened Ordet, an experimental art and cultural center in Milan – changed his mind about a floral painting he had first imagined might find a home in La Vedetta. “It just doesn’t fit here,” he says, shaking his head and pointing to the bubble-wrapped artwork ready to be shipped back to Milan.
There’s nothing ostentatious about La Vedetta, which was restored with the help of architect Michele Pasini of studio Storage Milano. “He is passionate about Liguria and we have only worked with Ligurian craftsmen,” says Giorgetti, pointing, for example, to reed chairs made in the traditional way in the nearby town of Rapallo.
Inside, the house is furnished to resemble a sailboat, with cherry-colored Ligurian oak, slate and marble. The portholes add to this impression, as do the windows overlooking the gulf – like in a ship’s control room. Outside, a few light blue stripes are the only decorative elements on the white walls.
The garden is as captivating as the house, filled with maritime pines, agapanthus, agaves, roses, lemon and orange trees, broom and aloes.
“It’s a private place,” says Giorgetti, who has yet to use the location for a photo shoot or a marketing and communications event. The designer believes La Vedetta reflects his “more grown-up and sophisticated” side, as his style is miles away from MSGM’s youthful, playful and colorful design sense, which is infused with a streetwear and sometimes rebellious vibe.
In addition, Giorgetti has renovated an old aqueduct on one of the terraced slopes of the property, transforming it into a two-room building – but this is also perfectly integrated into the surrounding nature – and he is working on another extension of the house on a different level.
He admits his “great passion” for interior design, saying it dates back to his childhood.
“I was obsessed with moving my bedroom furniture all the time,” he recalls with a laugh. He thinks the creative process is very similar to his fashion work, also calling for the use of multiple mood boards and photos. The designer has often spoken of his admiration for exposed concrete and brutalist architecture, well represented, for example, in the MSGM flagship which opened in Milan in 2019.
After collaborating with Venini on a series of glass vases, Giorgetti says he would love to explore other home and furniture projects, but humbly admits he prefers to tread lightly. “I would like to enter this world, but slowly and delicately, with respect — for each one’s job,” he says.
However, the designer is even more attracted to “potential complete projects”, which lead him to spend the night browsing online offers of properties to restructure. Pulling out his phone, he shows photos of several properties he’s already bookmarked, smiling impatiently.