ZOAGLI, Italy — Perched on a cape overlooking the majestic Ligurian Golfo del Tigullio, Massimo Giorgetti’s house is an absolute stunner.
The white circular design reflects the structure’s original purpose: A lookout building during World War I. The reason is visible to the naked eye, as it’s nestled in a strategic location — almost hidden by a striking crag with all-around views of the gulf and opposite the famed luxury resort of Portofino. Called La Vedetta, which means “lookout” in Italian, Giorgetti carefully restored the property while being mindful of its past.
“This is a location, rather than a house,” says the affable Giorgetti, founder and creative director of the MSGM brand. “[My husband] Mattia and I fell in love with this magical place and we bought it seeing its potential.”
Giorgetti discovered the tiny town of Zoagli in 2005, viewing it as “an incredible location, frozen in the ‘60s or ‘70s, where tourism hasn’t really arrived yet. And with Mattia, we used to stay at the Castello Canevaro there [before buying La Vedetta] and during our kayak or canoe trips, we would get close to this white structure, so striking under these white tents — wondering whether it was an observatory.”
They feel such a connection with Zoagli that the couple married in the town four years ago.
The tents are a strong characteristic and protective element of La Vedetta and, looking like sails jutting out into the sky, perfectly fit with the location, adding a distinguishing touch to the house.
“In July 2016, we found out it was for sale and we felt as lucky as the universe had decided to give us this prize of nature,” says Giorgetti, who a year later bought the five-acre property over eight natural land terraces.
But nature put the brakes on the renovation project as a devastating storm in October 2018 eroded part of the coast in the area and damaged the restructuring work that had already been done. “It was so painful to live through that, not for the material loss but for the emotional value of it all. The house itself, which was hit by tsunami-like waves, was remarkably resilient and the structure did not collapse,” says Giorgetti. He still marvels at the narrow escape, also because he was told the house is the closest structure to the water on the entire gulf.
“La Vedetta has a particular energy, and it’s a place where I can detox, it balances my busy, rushed and colorful life in Milan — it’s a place of the heart,” says Giorgetti, adding that his houses in Milan, where MSGM is headquartered, and the ski resort Courmayeur are filled with “creative chaos, art and different design pieces. Here, I can’t place any artwork.”
For instance, Giorgetti – who in 2019 opened Ordet, an experimental art center and cultural hub in Milan – changed his mind about a floral painting he had at first imagined could find a home at La Vedetta. “It just doesn’t fit here,” he says, shaking his head and pointing to the bubble-wrapped artwork ready to be returned to Milan.
There is nothing ostentatious in La Vedetta, which was restored with the help of architect Michele Pasini of Storage Milano studio. “He is passionate about Liguria and we only worked with Ligurian artisans,” says Giorgetti, pointing, for example, to bulrush chairs made traditionally in nearby Rapallo.
Inside, the house is furnished to look like a sail boat, with Ligurian oak in a cherry color, slate and marble. The portholes add to this impression, as do the windows overlooking the gulf — as in a ship’s control room. Outside, a few light blue stripes are the only decorative elements on the white walls.
The garden is as captivating as the house, filled with maritime pine trees, agapanthus, agave, roses, lemon and orange trees, scotch broom and aloes.
“It’s a private place,” says Giorgetti, who hasn’t used the location for any photo shoot or marketing and communications event yet. The designer believes La Vedetta reflects his “more adult and sophisticated” side, as its style is miles away from the young, playful, colorful design sense of MSGM, which is infused with a streetwear and at times rebellious vibe.
In addition, Giorgetti has renovated a former aqueduct on one of the terraced slopes of the property, transforming it into a two-room building — but this is also perfectly ensconced in the natural surroundings — and he is working on another extension of the house on a different level.
He admits his “huge passion” for interior design, saying it goes way back to when he was a child.
“I was obsessed, I would move the furniture in my room all the time,” he recalls with a laugh. He believes that creative process is very similar to his fashion work, calling for the use of several mood boards and photos, as well. The designer has often spoken of his admiration for exposed concrete and Brutalist architecture, which is well-represented, for example, in the MSGM flagship that opened in Milan in 2019.
After a collaboration with Venini on a series of glass vases, Giorgetti says he would like to explore additional home and furniture projects but humbly admits he prefers to tread lightly. “I would like to enter that world, but slowly and delicately, with respect — to each one’s own profession,” he says.
However, the designer is even more attracted to “potential all-around projects,” which drive him to stay up at night scrolling through online offers of real estate in need of restructuring. Pulling out his phone, he shows photos of several properties he has already bookmarked, smiling with anticipation.