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Pantheon House

The Philosophy of Furnishing

Labics

Published some 30 years ago, La Filiosofia dell’arredamento (The Philosophy of Furnishing) by Mario Praz is a sweeping overview not so much of furniture but the stories furniture and furnishings tell. Right from the start, Praz declares his love for houses and how they are furnished - protagonists of the eternal human comedy as it changes only to remain the same. For Praz, furnishings are like the characters of the book he has loved and emulated all his life: Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu. Praz is right. Interiors do tell a story - some more, some less. Indeed, this might be the distinguishing feature marking out the different quality of interiors. 
Today, furnishings can be divided into two categories. The first reaches back to the 19th century and the rise of bourgeois furnishings, when the walls were simply a backdrop to the furniture. Modern Italian architects were masters at this. Examples are the house Franco Albini created for himself and his family in Milan at the end of the 1930s, or the lightweight, “floating” furniture of Giò Ponti. The 1960s saw the appearance of another furnishing style, one that could almost be described as following the new aircraft design of the day: “full body” and all enveloping, where the backdrops of the walls become one with the furniture and fittings. Indeed, the hyper-design of Deconstructivism can often - albeit not always - be included in this sort of furniture style. Today though, tastes have completely changed, moving well away from deconstructivist ideas to return to interiors made up of a variegated range of stand-alone pieces completely detached from the walls. However, the project by Labics presented in this issue of THE PLAN marks a departure from this dichotomy. The aim of the project becomes clear when you look at the cross-sectional view of the plan that includes a view of the Pantheon with its internal space, and...

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