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Master Class

Renzo Mongiardino’s biggest project ever—a Palladian villa in Switzerland—is remembered by his aesthetic heirs, Laura Sartori Rimini and Roberto Peregalli of Studio Peregalli

One day at the beginning of the 1990s, a man arrived at Renzo Mongiardino’s studio in Milan. His demeanor was gentle but decided, and he asked the architect and designer, our mentor, to create a Palladian villa in Switzerland, on a wooded hill overlooking Lake Lugano. He explained that he had devoted his whole life to finance but he had a passion for the classical villas that Andrea Palladio had erected in the Veneto during the 16th century. And his dream, he added, was to have such a house designed for him by Renzo, the only person he would consider for a project of such complexity.

Renzo, though flattered, was doubtful. As a man whose architecture and decoration sensibilities were decidedly catholic, sticking to such a precise style would make him feel constrained. He was also already very busy in New York City, working on several complicated commissions—a house for Drue Heinz and apartments for Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen- Bornemisza, Stavros Niarchos, and the Agnellis. Still, he was intrigued by the client’s request, so Renzo asked us if we would help him with the Swiss project, though he would oversee every detail. After working for Renzo for several years, we had recently opened our own design firm, Studio Peregalli, and, with the enthusiasm of youth and being at the beginning of our careers, found the proposition difficult to refuse. We also knew that designing the house with Renzo would be a thrilling experience, since it would be the only one that the master had ever executed entirely from scratch.

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