Inveterate traveller and collector of beautiful things from all around the world, Danish designer Marlene Birger has filled her stunning home on the banks of Lake Como with her favourite furnishings, artworks and objets d’art.
“My style is eclectic – yet under control,” says Malene Birger. “I’m a maximalist.” Just over three years ago, the acclaimed Danish fashion designer and her husband bought an old villa with stunning views overlooking the magical ‘Lago di Como’ on a hillside near the picturesque Tremezzo. Since then, she has renovated and created an amazing home that expresses the essence of her style and design.
The villa contains a huge collection of antiques, vintage furniture, art and objects bought from auctions and flea markets on Birger’s many journeys around the world. During the refurbishing, Birger flew over from her London base every six to eight weeks to supervise the extensive renovations. Having fallen in love with the house’s original details, she kept them all. Only a few walls came down in order to let more modern ideas change the space carefully. The kitchen, impressive hall and the four bathrooms were all decorated with black and white marble stripes – Birger’s signature style. The chandeliers are the jewel in most of the rooms and used to hang in the By Malene Birger boutiques.
“The house was built in 1905 and has only had one owner. It had not undertaken any renovation for more than 40 years when we took over,” says Birger. “The ground floor was like stepping into a damp, dark cigar box, but that space has now become my lovely bright office, with a beautiful view to the lake from my desk.”
For the first time, Birger has all her belongings in one place, as the house is spacious enough to contain her impressive personal collections of vintage interior books from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s and vintage clothing and jewellery. Her love for Syrian inlay furniture, Arabian architecture, Carlo Bugatti and ’70s collective designer furniture is mixed and matched throughout a house where modernity meets history. Indian columns, bought in Delhi in 2014, divide the dining room and the living room, as well as the wardrobe and the master bedroom on the first floor. The eclectic style spans the modern design of Italian stars including Joe Colombo, Gabriella Crespi and Willy Rizzo.
“My home reflects my many journeys around the globe, and expresses the extensive amount of creative cultures,” says Birger. “Every single trip inspires me. I am and will always be a nomad, travelling is running in my blood. On average, we move every second year, but for now we live in Italy. We have found peace. The house is grand and has high ceilings. The space adds freedom in one’s everyday life. We live here, I work here and I even have a studio where I will paint.
“My inspiration comes from many places. Great artists, actors, writers and personalities are always inspiring. I adore Picasso and he has a huge influence in my style and work. His talent was endless,” says Birger.
Visiting the home almost feels like being in a luxury boutique hotel. Indeed, one of Birger’s until now unfulfilled ambitions is to create a small group of boutique hotels, where she can employ her style, design and attention to detail. She is today working within interior, art and design projects as a consultant. Who knows what the next project will be or where her next move and destination will take her?