A Sicilian-born artist brings memories of his island home to life in a minimalist industrial loft in Milan.

cheat sheet

Who lives here: Artist Antonino Sciortino and his partner, an architect.

Style of home: A 200 square-metre two-storey loft in the Tortona area of Milan. Originally an industrial building, the space has been transformed into an open and airy home and studio.

Timeline: Antonino purchased the home 20 years ago and has since completed two renovations; the most recent was five years ago.

Before the Tortona area of Milan became known as the creative hotspot it is today, artist Antonino Sciortino saw its true potential. “This was a rough neighbourhood, but very interesting,” he says. “We were one of the first to buy a place here, and after us came the big brands like Armani.” Among the old industrial buildings from the 1950s set on cobbled streets, he found a loft he loved. “It was an old canteen for factory workers; the ground floor was used as the dining hall,” he says of the double-floor loft. “I fell in love with the courtyard; even though you’re in the middle of the city, it has a quiet and relaxed atmosphere.”

When it came to renovating, Antonino was clear about what he and his partner wanted. “We created internal walls, but not too many, because we liked the idea of an open space,” he says. “We wanted to create airy and connected rooms that were livable and flexible in their functions.” The last point is important because the home doubles as Antonino’s work space, where he creates metal sculptures and objects. “My favourite spot in the house is the studio, which is also a showroom, and is always open to customers and curious people,” he says.

Set over two floors, the home is flooded with natural light by the generous windows, which also allow a view of the garden courtyard, complete with an olive tree from Antonino’s childhood home in Sicily. “I confess that after lunch I often curl up on the sofa and fall asleep looking at the garden. This allows me tranquillity; a true treat in Milan,” he says. Antonino has also filled his interior with plants, from succulents and agave to giant cacti. “I love them and I take care of them carefully: they remind me of my homeland,” he says. “Their scents and colours are the best and most authentic souvenirs of Sicily.”

Preserving the soul of the place – including its hardworking past – was the goal from the very beginning. “We came up with our interior mood: a minimalist Baroque style,” says Antonino. “This means modern furniture and industrial materials are paired with more decorative and ostentatious details in the Sicilian style.” The polished concrete floor, chosen for its easy maintenance, echoes the hardworking history of the building. Visitors walk straight into the living room with the kitchen on the left and office upstairs. White washed walls reflect and enhance the brightness that characterises the loft.

An open metal staircase, which Antonino designed himself, leads to the bedroom and office area, plus a bathroom covered in deep-blue tiles that evoke the seaside mood Antonino misses from his island home. Throughout the space, furniture designed and made by Antonino, including the large sofa and daybed, is complemented by iconic designer pieces and large potted plants and trees. “I had fun creating a decor that is eclectic, just like me,” says Antonino. Really, the house is a showcase of his creative talent. “I love having the house full of sculptures,” he says. “I live here, but it also serves as my business address.” The furniture and decor choices are minimal but well considered.

With a professional life in Milan and a heart that misses the Mediterranean, Antonino has created a home that works for both. “With its generous dimensions and outdoor garden, this place gives me the impression of living in the countryside while enjoying the benefits of the city,” he says.

Visit Antonino Sciortino to see Antonino’s work.