The Caffè Fernanda is part of a larger project to redesign the Pinacoteca di Brera and its collection. It is named after Fernanda Wittgens, the gallery’s visionary director, who was responsible for its reopening in 1950, after the terrible bombings of ’43.

Interior design: rgastudioRaffaele Azzarelli & Giuliano Iamele
Intagram/Facebook: rgastudio.milano
Location:  Pinacoteca di Brera , via Brera 28, Milano, Italia
Area:  140 mq
Project Year:  2018
Graphic project:  Viva!
Lighting project:  Hi Lite Next
Photos by :  Michele Nastasi
Forniture:  Pedrali – CIAM
Clients: Fabbro spa – Pinacoteca di Brera
English text: Lianna Mark

Caffè Fernanda By rgastudio - Sheet2Located in the former main entrance, the café is conceived as part and parcel of the museum tour. More precisely, it echoes the new curation of the museum’s 38 rooms by director James Bradburne, carried out over the past 3 years. Hence, the project’s chromatic and material coherence with the gallery’s new layout, and its reinterpretation of the space’s 1950s architecture.

Caffè Fernanda By rgastudio - Sheet4The intense petrol blue of the walls chimes with the warm hues of the gallery rooms and sets off the artworks exhibited in the Café: Pietro Damini’s St. Bernard Converting the Duke of Aquitania, Bertel Thorvaldsen’s The Three Graces, the bust of Fernanda Wittgens by Marino Marini and her portrait by Attilio Rossi.

Caffè Fernanda By rgastudio - Sheet5

Adjustable LED projectors, mounted on rails that mimic the pattern of the pre-existent plaster beams, are the sole source of light, as befits the environment and the works.

Recovered and restored, the splendid, peach-blossom marble floors and the Lepanto-red frames – prominent features of Piero Portaluppi’s previous design – remain untouched.

Caffè Fernanda By rgastudio - Sheet7Below Damini’s seventeenth-century painting stands the café’s large, round-edged bar. Its design evokes ribbed wooden furniture from the ’50s, albeit with inverted proportions: enlarged, semi-circular strips of canaletto walnut, topped by an uncharacteristically thin, antique-brass surface.

The same brass, thinned even further, frames the large mirror, in which not only the bar’s bottles, but fragments of Thordvalsen’s Cupid and the Three Graces are reflected.

Caffè Fernanda By rgastudio - Sheet11The tables, too, are made of brass and walnut. A certain material coherence guarantees the space its harmony, allowing for an unencumbered appreciation of the works.

Lounging in the antique-pink and brass armchairs, one can admire Marini’s bust, whilst the tables by the bar offer a privileged view of both Attilio Rossi’s portrait and Francesco Hayez’s famous Kiss, located in the final room of the gallery.


rgastudio was established in 2006 by Raffaele Azzarelli and Giuliano Iamele. It specialises in architectural design and project management, encompassing a wide range of projects diverse in both in nature and scale. The team takes care of each project from initial design to final completion alongside a number of experts in various fields.

Particular attention is paid to the realisation phase; the construction site is viewed as a workshop, in which both the choices of material and a focus on detail acquire fundamental importance in the projects’ overall success.

So far, the practice has designed and managed projects regarding private and public buildings, schools, offices and residential and retail property.

In the last few years, the practice has gained specific expertise in Hospitality Design. Amongst these projects can be found: Hangar Bicocca Museum and Pinacoteca di Brera’s cafeteria, the restaurants ‘Ratanà’, ‘ErbaBrusca’, ‘Taglio’ in Milan and ‘Bistrot’, the new restaurant of Lavazza Campus in Turin.


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