At CRISTALLERIE FRATELLI LIVELLARA, a former glass manufacturer on the outskirts of Milan, photographer Tommaso Sartori chronicles COORDINATES, a new Flos lighting system by MICHAEL ANASTASSIADES. Inside the 1920s, Futurist-inspired factory, these modern works of industrial design find effortless equilibrium.
Around 1920, an 11,000-square-metre vegetable oil plant was erected in an industrial neighbourhood on the outskirts of Milan. Long and skinny, except for a striking cylindrical entrance facade, its architecture took cues from the Futurist style, a legacy of the school of Antonio Sant’Elia and his drawings of the New City. And over the years, the forward looking building has adapted, again and again, to accommodate new futures.
When the Livellara family acquired the place in 1963, they had something new in mind for the factory: glassmaking. They brought in masters from Murano, along with their kilns and their equipment, and transformed it into Cristallerie Fratelli Livellara, which manufactured hand-blown glass until 2004. Though production has now been moved elsewhere, in the central building that overlooks Via Bovisasca —now a post-industrial area that houses a branch of the Polytechnic University of Milan—you can still find a small shop selling Livellara glass.
"Today, the space feels like an industrial archaeology site, its old oil and water tanks and air-raid shelters still intact."
Today, the space feels like an industrial archaeology site, its old oil and water tanks and air-raid shelters still intact. Such details have been deliberately preserved through a respectful restoration which left behind the layers of activity that have moved through the site. Most recently, Luca Locatelli, who snapped up the building in 2015 before a planned demolition, has opened Spirit de Milan (spiritdemilan.it). The concept space brings people together with a restaurant, dance floor, and theatre, and there’s more to come, from co-working to cabaret.
But for a moment, as Italy slowly emerged from a months-long quarantine, Flos had the space to itself, sending in Tommaso Sartori to photograph Coordinates, a new lighting series by Michael Anastassiades. For the shoot, Sartori allowed the build- ing’s past lives shine through: the textured walls; the exposed pipes; the years of use, letting its rich history serve as a backdrop for something radiant and new.