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Domestic philosophy


Riya Patel on Cardillo’s House of Dust project in Frame magazine

Frame 95


Promising to elevate us to a higher plane, the House of Dust has literary and classical themes woven into its construction. “It invites a frugal experience of life”, says architect Antonino Cardillo of the 1960s apartment he has refurbished for a couple in Rome. “A kind of escape from the glass houses that fill the pages of architectural magazines today.” Cardillo’s House of Dust does not tick the usual boxes. In place of abundant natural light and designer furnishings are gloomy cavernous spaces characterized by a grainy ceiling of pozzolanic plaster, tinted the colour of dust. Even the furniture looks uncomfortable in this environment. But what the interior lacks in material comfort, it makes up for in ideology. Accompanied by both a poem and a short film, Cardillo’s design is a playground of classical, literary and postmodern metaphors, designed to make us question life and how we live it. From the main living room, six elongated arches hint at further spaces to explore, leading either to dead ends (cupboards) or utility spaces—the kitchen is concealed within a kind of modern priest-hole. “A pink glass doorknob introduces the intimate rooms, which too are distinguished by the palest pink on the walls”, says Cardillo. “Alice in Wonderland and ’80s fantasy role-playing games were my influences.”

House of Dust

Antonino Cardillo, House of Dust, Rome, 2013. Photography: Antonino Cardillo


  • Riya Patel, ‘Domestic philosophy’ (pdf), Frame, no. 95, Amsterdam, Nov. 2013, pp. 58‑59.