|Olivetti store by Carlo Scarpa at Piazza San Marco, Venice, Italy|
Italy is known as one of the top design capitals of the world with Gucci, Prada, Valentino, Armani, Fendi, Ferrari and Versace leading the way - but apart from historical icons Borromini, Bernini, and Michaelangelo very few people can name architects or interior designers from the modern period forward. The absolute pinnacle of modern interior design is an architect by the name of Carlo Scarpa. Scarpa designed another ground breaking museum of historical artefacts called castelvecchio. Known as much for his genius as for his iron will and absolute insistence on his vision. Scarpa once prepared a 5 course meal for a billionaire who commented that the project would have to be completed in half of the time Scarpa had estimated. Rumor has it that Scarpa quickly replied "This meal took 3 me days to prepare for you, my structures will take not a day less than I have estimated" where he then proceeded to drag the table cloth along with the entire gourmet extravaganza on to the floor and showed his potential client the door out of his home." One can see from the exquisite detailing of the stairs and the display of the type writer that no expense was spared in executing the details. Painstaking attention was taken in hand crafting the bronze and wood details we see so lovingly designed which remain to this day at
Scarpa was born in Venice. Much of his early childhood was spent in Vicenza, where his family relocated when he was 2 years old. After his mother's death when he was 13, he, his father and brother moved back to Venice. Carlo attended the Academy of Fine Arts where he focused on architectural studies. Graduated from the Accademia in Venice, with the title of Professor of Architecture, he apprenticed with the architect Francesco Rinaldo. Scarpa married Rinaldo's niece, Nini Lazzari (Onorina Lazzari).
However, Scarpa refused to sit the pro forma professional exam administrated by the Italian Government after World War II. As a consequence, he was not permitted to practice architecture without associating with an architect. Hence, those who worked with him, his clients, associates, craftspersons, called him "Professor", rather than "architect".
His architecture is deeply sensitive to the changes of time, from seasons to history, rooted in a sensuous material imagination. He was Mario Botta's thesis adviser along with Giuseppe Mazzariol; the latter was the Director of the Fondazione Querini Stampalia when Scarpa completed his renovation and garden for that institution. Scarpa taught drawing and Interior Decoration at the Istituto universitario di architettura di Venezia from the late 1940s until his death. While most of his built work is located in the Veneto, he made designs of landscapes, gardens, and buildings, for other regions of Italy as well as Canada, the United States, Saudi Arabia, France and Switzerland. His name has 11 letters and this is used repeatedly in his architecture.
One of his last projects, left incomplete at the time of his death, was recently altered (October 2006) by his son Tobia: the Villa Palazzetto in Monselice. This work is one of Scarpa's most ambitious landscape and garden projects, the Brion Sanctuary notwithstanding. It was executed for Aldo Businaro, the representative for Cassina who is responsible for Scarpa's first trip to Japan. Aldo Businaro died in August 2006, a few months before the completion of the new stair at the Villa Palazzetto, built to commemorate Scarpa's centenary.
In 1978, while in Sendai, Japan, Scarpa died after falling down a flight of concrete stairs. He survived for ten days in a hospital before succumbing to the injuries of his fall. He is buried standing up and wrapped in linen sheets in the style of a medieval knight, in an isolated exterior corner of his L-shaped Brion Cemetery at San Vito d'Altivole in the Veneto.In 1984, the Italian composer Luigi Nono dedicated him the composition for orchestra in micro-intervals A Carlo Scarpa, Architetto, Ai suoi infiniti possibili.