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Meanwhile, in a newly built project by the London-based architect Antonino Cardillo, for Rome-based client Massimiliano Beffa, the ceiling is at the very crux of the interior. House of Dust features a cave-like rough-plaster version that almost seems to drop down from the sky – it is purposely reminiscent of all kinds of subliminal historical references, in particular the vault of very early architecture.
“I’ve always been interested in ceilings,” says Cardillo. “The vault is the place where the architecture happens. It possesses an archetypal and sacred value. It goes back to the primary meaning of architecture, which is the protection of the cave, but also to its spiritual meaning, because every vault is also the transfiguration of the sky in stone.” Previous Cardillo projects have included a double-height vaulted ceiling studded with gold mosaic, and each one tells a story. “Decoration has a profound subversive potential,” he says.
For owner Beffa, the finished effect was at first “oppressive – at the beginning I really thought that this couldn’t, shouldn’t, be my house”, he admits. However, after a while, it has become “ever more a part of it, strong and present. That first sensation of mine has completely gone. Sometimes I find myself reclining on the sofa in the evening, watching the reflections of the purplish light above, hypnotised.”
Antonino Cardillo, House of Dust, Rome 2013. Photography by Antonino Cardillo.