Decoding the design: Ermengildo Zegna head offices
The corporate headquarters of luxury fashion brand Ermengildo Zegna in Milan harnesses both the past and future of the label and the local area.
Encased in an impressive steel and glass frame, the headquarters offers little mystery as to what’s going on inside for passers-by. But it does pique intrigue.
Here we decode the project’s design, architecture and how you can get the look.
Designed by Antonio Citterio And Partners, a Milan based multi-disciplinary studio, the headquarters were completed in 2008.
Though this is an older project for us to take a look at, it’s one that we think has stood the test of time.
The overall design appears to be a single building, which is then internally divided into different spaces for different functions and departments within the business.
This is cleverly done by a glass and steel facade that mimics the profile of an industrial shed — a nod to the history of the company. Zegna mills and produces the fabrics used not only in their own designs and clothes, but also by other luxury labels.
Built around a courtyard system, glass walkways and bridges allow you to see what’s going on in different departments, and the entrance also conceals a garden. This decision is another nod at the history of the label where visitors to the original mills could see the production process. It also seeks inspiration in classical Italian Palazzos, reinterpreted for a modern business function.
The architects have constructed historic forms with futuristic and geometric lines that perhaps evades immediate detection. When you really study the building, the old woolshed silhouette really starts to reveal itself.
It’s also a masterclass in bringing light to materials we often associate with coldness, and injecting warmth to sterile atmospheres.
In keeping with tradition, the Zegna offices utilise a great Italian material: porcelain slabs.
In particular, large format porcelain slabs clad interior walls throughout the headquarters. These ultra slim, super strong and stunning porcelain slabs are a product of Italian ingenuity—so it’s no wonder they’re celebrated here as a hero material.
Polished aluminium and glass feature heavily throughout this project, and provide the building its facade—which acts like a greenhouse, allowing sunlight in and keeping the elements at bay.
The central courtyard has a large and inviting teak deck that helps tie different spaces together. It’s also a striking material choice because it’s one of the few organic feeling areas in an otherwise industrial building. This industrial feeling is reflected in the local area, a central location for fashion and creative business in Milan.
Get the Look
Like the label’s signature aesthetic, the headquarters blend classic queues with contemporary designs.
Utilising mostly industrial materials, you could mimic the headquarters look by balancing out a glass and steel rear extension framed by a timber deck.
For your interior spaces, try porcelain cladding on your walls instead of paint or small tiles. Our Buxy range is a range of super slim porcelain slabs that are simply very large tiles. This reduces the number of panels needed, and thus, joins and grout lines. The project features Cendre, which is used throughout and makes for a great neutral colour selection with an interesting patina and texture.
If you’re afraid of using the same dark, minimal colour palette, try offsetting it by using sky blue elements and maximising natural light where possible.