A mosaic tour of Milan's architectural icons

This year, we celebrate Milan Design Week 2024 with a tour of some of Milan's iconic buildings, many of which feature fine hand-crafted mosaic, terrazzo or pebble stone flooring, made by the Italian craftsmen who have been part of our 124-year-old firm since its earliest days in 1900.

Our mini tour is designed to highlight some of the many historic projects in Milan, including the Palazzo Reale’s Sala delle Cariatidi, the Palazzina Appiani and the Courtyard della Rocchetta of the Castello Sforzesco – all of which feature Fantini Mosaici surfaces.

Milan Design Week is not just about discovering what's new in design and architecture – it is also a celebration of Milan's rich history and heritage, which continues to have a profound impact on many of the contemporary and prototype designs that will be unveiled throughout the city and at the Salone Del Mobile.

So, as you crisscross the city in your sleekest chic sneakers in pursuit of the latest product launch or Happy Hour aperitivo, we invite you to visit some of the city's most prestigious and historic addresses, where you can personally experience the unique role that Fantini Mosaici has played in the cultural history of the world's design capital…


Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan

Nestled between the Duomo Cathedral and Le Teatro La Scala, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a tourist destination visited by many, who may turn three times on the lucky bull in the handcrafted Italian-made central mosaic floor without realising that Fantini Mosaici's artisans were among the hundreds that contributed to it.

The glass- and steel-domed galleria was initially conceived in 1857 by Giuseppe Mengoni, who tragically died before completing the architectural masterpiece, widely considered to be one of the world’s first shopping malls. The major landmark project was completed by architect Giulio Minoretti and is widely recognised for its contribution to the evolution of covered shopping arcades. It features precious and noble materials like marble and mosaic, formed by the best craftspeople of the era.

Since its inception, the Galleria has played a major role in Milanese society and is often called ‘Il Salotto di Milano’ (the Sitting Room of Milan). It has traditionally been a place where the well-heeled have met, shopped and dined.


Palazzina Appiani, Civic Arena, Milan

Commissioned by Emperoror Napoleon Bonaparte, Palazzina Appiani was initially designed in the early 19th century by Architect Giovanni Antolini as a summer palace and gallery overlooking the sports arena. The project was later entrusted to Architect Luigi Canonica, who designed numerous Classical-style Italian mosaics to decorate the halls of the two-storey mini-palace, which is adorned with crystal chandeliers and hand painted frescoes. Decades later, following fires, wars and general neglect, Fantini Mosaici artisans participated in a major conservation programme to salvage the historic palace – said to be one of the few remaining buildings that are testament to the Napoleon’s grandiose plans for Milan. Fantini Mosaici completely restored the extensive mosaics to their original splendour, using exactly the same types of marble, grout and natural paint pigments that had been used in the original mosaics. During Milan Design Week 2024 visitors will be able to enjoy design exhibits in the royal spaces where the name D. Fantini Figli is embedded in the mosaic floors…


Teatro alla Scala / La Scala, Milan

Exquisite handcrafted flooring enhances the refined elegance of the grand, neoclassical Teatro alla Scala/La Scala, where some of the world's greatest composers, tenors and sopranos – from Verdi to Puccini and from Maria Callas to Luciano Pavarotti – have enthralled audiences for centuries. With its classical motifs, geometric patterns and rich colour palette, the mosaic flooring in the external entry foyer echoes the classical music performed at the renowned opera house. Designed by architect Giuseppe Piermarini on the site of a former church, the theatre was Inaugurated in 1778. In the early 2000s, Architect Mario Botta designed a controversial new modern extension.


Triennale di Milano, Milan

Most visitors to Milan Design Week make a beeline for the world-renowned Triennale di Milano – a permanent architecture and design exhibition that honours the best examples of design from the past, present and future. Housed in the Palazzo dell’Arte, designed by renowned architect Giovanni Muzi in the early 1930s, the main feature of the reception foyer is an eye-catching hand-made mosaic, ‘La Cavalcata delle Amazzoni’ (Cavalcade of the Amazons), which was hand-cut and installed by Fantini Mosaici artisans.

The large colourful equestrian inspired mosaic by Leonor Fini and Achille Funi welcomes visitors, while other mosaic art also featuring horses’ heads adorns the walls of this leading cultural institution.


Fondazione Prada, Milan

Designed by OMA, headed by leading architect Rem Koolhaas, the Fondazione Prada art campus opened in 2015 and features marble platforms and plinths by Fantini Mosaic. The marble elements were strategically installed to enhance the artwork and displayed statues. Located in a former 20th distillery, the 19,000-square metre art complex includes three new buildings and seven restored buildings – as well as the original warehouses, laboratories and brewing silos, set around a large courtyard. The permanent Fondazione Prada art collection is accommodated in a new ten-floor building.


Galleria d’Arte Moderna (GAM), Milan

Milan’s Galleria d’Arte Moderna (Gallery of Modern Art / GAM), which houses a collection of Italian and European art from the 18th to the 20th centuries, including Modigliani, Picasso and Boccioni, is a must-see for art enthusiasts. Originally called the Villa Belgiojoso Bonaparte or Villa Reale, this neoclassic villa, set in the Indro Montanelli Gardens, was designed by architect Leopoldo Pollack in the 1700s and was the summer residence of Napoleon Bonaparte before being transformed into a gallery in the 1920s. Milanese architectural practice Studio Albini, Helg, Piva was commissioned to renovate and rebuild the villa in the mid-1980s, focusing on the fire-damaged first floor. Fantini Mosaici's expertise and technical knowledge were deployed to restore the Venetian terrazzo floors of the Sala del Parnaso and the adjacent rooms. In some areas, decorative parts of the original floors were removed, restored, reinforced and seamlessly reinstalled, while the new terrazzo flooring is identical to the original.


Palazzo delle Stelline, Milan

The historic Palazzo delle Stelline, designed by leading Italian artist and industrial designer Augusto 'Bobo' Piccoli (1927-1981), created a unique, timeless, functional masterpiece that unified art and architecture. Today, its contemporary and bold marble and Venetian Terrazzo floors are as relevant to art and architecture as they were when they were first created in the ‘70s. In 2015, Fantini Mosaici undertook a significant renovation of the floors’ bold black zoomorphic and hypomorphic shapes that completely transformed the traditional cloister space and upper floors, giving the classical structure a new life and meaning. The multi-coloured marble and Venetian terrazzo project was overseen by architect Jan Battistoni, and gave the historic palazzo a dynamic, contemporary look and vibe.


Four Seasons Hotel, Milan

The Zelo bistro and restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel in Milan is another destination in Milan where guests can savour Italian cuisine in the presence of Fantini Mosaici flooring. Located on the grounds of a former 15th-century convent, the luxury hotel is in the centre of Milan's fashion district and is regularly frequented by the world's top designers. Having first restored the floor for the inauguration of the Four Seasons European debut in 1993, Fantini Mosaici was recently invited to revive the Venetian terrazzo floor yet again. The firm embellished the floor with hand-cut mosaic inserts, making it a stand-out space for design-savvy clients.


Ca’ Brutta, Milan

Love it or hate it, Ca’ Brutta or ‘Ugly House’ by controversial architect Giovanni Muzio (1893-1982) is regarded as an early example of the Novocento Movement and is a landmark in the evolution of Milan’s architecture. Muzio’s eclectic style was often debated, as he edged away from tradition towards a more modern and utilitarian aesthetic. Fantini Mosaici’s craftspeople were engaged to create decorative yet functional marble mosaic flooring in monochromatic black, grey and white to complement the architect’s innovative, practical and functional spaces. With time, public opinion warmed to the style and the residential building in the centre of Milan, where the architect lived until his death in 1982, and the façade and architectural features were carefully restored in the 1990s.


Tennis Club Milano Alberto Bonacossa, Milan

Italian-designed and hand-made mosaics flow throughout the prestigious Tennis Club Milano-Alberto Bonacossa, which was designed by leading Italian architect Giovanni Muzio (1893-1982). The dynamic patterns of the hand-crafted mosaics in colours of white, red, black and green add a sporting vibe to the Neoclassical building, which employs Art Deco references. In the 1920s Fantini Mosaici’s master artisans worked harmoniously with the late architect to create flooring for the lounges, restaurants and public areas that would generate the perfect ambiance for pre- and post-match gatherings in the new Club House – which often take place in the presence of some of the world’s highest ranked players.

These icons of Milanese architecture will also be digitally showcased in the first Fantini Mosaici flagship boutique, which is scheduled to open in Foro Buonaparte in the heart of the Brera design district later this year. Designed by award-winning architect Giuseppe Bavuso and AB+AC Architects, the dynamic new space promises to provide new inspiration and shine light on the ancient art of mosaic and terrazzo surfaces…

Catherine Belbin, Design Editor

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