“It could not have been neutral,” says Andrea Serboli of the kitchen in his 75-square-metre apartment. “It would have made no sense.” Located in the Eixample neighbourhood of Barcelona in a 1914 building that once boasted prime Catalan art nouveau features, the apartment had seen some wear and tear by the time Serboli purchased it, with many of those historic details irreparably neglected.
While the loss of the period elements was certainly lamentable, Serboli also saw it as an opportunity. Working with Matteo Colombo – with whom he co-founded Colombo and Serboli Architecture (CaSA) in 2010 – and his architect sister Margherita Serboli of Margherita Serboli Arquitectura, he concocted a plan to transform the apartment into both a showcase for the collection of objects picked up on his travels and a tangible example of CaSA’s style. To start, the team rejigged the layout by removing the false ceilings and a succession of partitions that had previously divided the space into six separate rooms. With a now open and flowing layout, the trio introduced contemporary character with colour and texture, nowhere more prominently than in the exposed kitchen.
The original cement-tile floor in this area could not be salvaged, so it was replaced by an elastic-fibre-reinforced screed and topped with ivory-toned micro-cement. Smooth and seamless, the material had both softness and rusticity that the team could build on. Royal blue lacquered panelling covers the kitchen’s cabinetry and island, a daring move that could have overpowered such a small space. “The idea was to make the apartment a wunderkammer, and the blue box is another object contained within it,” says Serboli. Thanks to a curated palette of accents – richly veined Portobello marble on the counters and backsplash, a faceted tubular range extractor that mimics the rhythm of the woodwork, coral-painted ceiling support beams that serve as a striking complement to the blue tones below – the effect feels authentic rather than contrived.