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The Comfort of Things: Artist Oscar Piccolo’s Modern Bohemian Studio Apartment

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The Comfort of Things: Artist Oscar Piccolo’s Modern Bohemian Studio Apartment

April 2, 2020

“I’ve never been by myself so much, but I’m treating this period as a good pause,” London designer Oscar Piccolo tells us. “I’ve always felt connected to domestic spaces so I am finding this aspect interesting. My home is my studio, really the two go hand in hand.”

A 2018 fine arts graduate of London’s Chelsea College of Arts, Piccolo emerged as a multi-media talent to watch thanks to his Lampada Cappello, a serpentine lamp with a playful hat-inspired shade that he sells on his website—and keeps selling out. While social distancing, he’s at work on a new version, La Coppia—”meaning ‘the couple,’ in Italian; it’s two Lampada Cappello lamps made to be used together and is dedicated to family, friends, and all of those who have found each other.”

We ourselves found Piccolo via The Modern House, which spotlighted his stylishly patched-together studio apartment, a rental in South East, London, filled with prototypes, works in progress, and a lot of uplifting curving lines. Piccolo, who grew up in a peripatetic Italian family (and has recently himself moved to a new flat), says he learned from his artist/interior designer mother that “the idea of home is less about a physical place and more about the objects we live with that carry significance and meaning.” He recently gave us a guided tour via Facetime.

Photography courtesy of The Modern House.

&#8\2\20;the beauty of this apartment is that it was an empty white canvas, 9
Above: “The beauty of this apartment is that it was an empty white canvas,” says Piccolo.”The challenge was figuring out how to distinguish areas: if the bed is always looking at you [that’s it just visible opposite the sofa], you have to set some boundaries.”
He was able to keep the space feeling open and airy thanks to an overall pale palette offset by sculptural wooden elements. The blue structure in the corner is a bookshelf turned plant house that he built himself when he first arrived in London six years ago.

  the one room apartment is in an \18th century building—located in an area  10
Above:  The one-room apartment is in an 18th-century building—located in an area called Shooter’s Hill, it was originally a military academy—with tall ceilings, stained glass clerestory windows, and interior shutters. The carved pine 1940’s French chair —”its reminds me of the Flintstones”—is a favorite of Piccolo’s on long-term loan from Beau-Traps, his friend Maxime Fisher’s online antiques business.

In addition to making art and lamps, Piccolo designs interiors and sets with Charlotte Taylor, a friend from art school—their business is called Dello Studio (website and furniture collection to come soon: stay tuned @dellostudio). The curved floor shelf is a leftover prop from one of their sets: “it started as a storage problem, but ended up working well here.”

try this at home: oscar draped his generic sofa in a large fringed drape that h 11
Above: Try this at home: Oscar draped his generic sofa in a large fringed drape that his mother gave him. (For more tactics like this, see 11 Zero-Cost Room-Changing Ideas.)

Piccolo was born in Sicily and, thanks to his father’s job at an international aviation company, spent his childhood living in Ghana, Istanbul, Cairo, and Libya, with summers in Sicily. “When we moved to Ghana, we had a big, beautiful house with nothing in it but mattresses. My mum being the creative one started to draw furniture, which she then had made—so I grew up with the idea that you could make things from scratch rather than just buy them,” he told The Modern House. “My parents created stability for us by always having the same dining table, sofa, bedroom and objects everywhere we went.”

a flea market side table holds piccolo&#8\2\17;s miniature vase collection: 12
Above: A flea market side table holds Piccolo’s miniature vase collection: “they’re all gifts from friends—they know I’m obsessed with vases.” The cardboard forms are maquettes for design projects.
the apartment came with a streamlined kitchen: the fridge is under the globe, a 13
Above: The apartment came with a streamlined kitchen: the fridge is under the globe, a cupboard and bath are located to the left, and that’s the closet behind the double doors. The round table is a prototype for a forthcoming Dello Studio piece and the “Buffalo Mozzarella Chair” is by his friend Elliott J. Barnes.

“Making coffee is one of the things I like doing most,” says Piccolo. “I might even like making it more than drinking it.” After breakfast, the kitchen becomes his work space.

piccolo describes his work as &#8\2\20;an ongoing material research through 14
Above: Piccolo describes his work as “an ongoing material research through sculpture, photography, furniture, lamps, and digital still-life compositions.” Shown here, a Cubist bust on a plinth that he made from bendable plywood.
piccolo&#8\2\17;s signature lampada cappello is but one of the sinuous line 15
Above: Piccolo’s signature Lampada Cappello is but one of the sinuous lines in his bedroom corner. The pleated canvas shades are made just outside of London and the bases are fabricated by hand in Sicily. Until recently, assemblage, packing, and shipping took place in his apartment; Piccolo’s family in Sicily is now assisting with that.

Note the bedding in shades of brown: “If I had to pick a favorite color,” Piccolo says, “it would be beige. It’s so peaceful.”

the cut out panel and serpentine column are more leftover props made of painted 16
Above: The cut-out panel and serpentine column are more leftover props made of painted MDF. “They’re really big pieces but instead of making the space feel crowded, they actually add dimension,” says Piccolo. “They were designed as elements of a house and meant to be temporary, but ended up coming full circle as parts of my home.”

Here are three more artist visits, design tips included:

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