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Look! The 15th Century Villa Imperiale In Pesaro, Italy Was Transformed Into A Design Laboratory

With the right team and a sharp eye for enduring design, a 15th century villa can become much more than a restored historical site, a relic of a time gone by. 


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Villa Imperiale's Sforza wing


Villa Imperiale's Garden Della Rovere Wing | Photo by Antonio Martinelli


Villa Imperiale's Porticoed Hall Della Rovere Wing


Simply ask PLUS ULTRA studio co-founder Alessandra Castelbarco Albani—whose family has owned the magnificent Villa Imperiale in Pesaro, Italy for centuries—an architect with a deeply rooted penchant for uniting cross-generational cultural and artistic sensibilities.

With PLUS ULTRA's latest exhibition, she and her team bring us into their world of design, transforming everything we know about the combinations of color, space, structure, material, and even time into something totally refreshing and inviting.


The design team behind PLUS ULTRA studio | Photo by Giulio Dallatorre



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"What we would like the audience at large will pick up from Mirabilia is a vision for a new world, not made out of futuristic extravaganza, but in continuity with our heritage, looking for a new mixture. A new world mixed up with the old: an old apartment with two or three modern pieces of furniture, a bicycle and a laptop, or conversely a new apartment with two or three inherited objects, maybe an old radio, and all the stuff we use today and in the future," Alessandra explains. 


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She is, of course, referring to PLUS ULTRA's newest project that's unlike others they've mounted before: Mirabilia, a surprising design laboratory located at the Villa Imperiale, a Renaissance period structure that was once Alessandra's summer holiday home.



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Previously used for exhibitions and concerts whose contents were reflective of the villa's specific time period, Villa Imperiale opened itself up to Mirabilia and is pushing the envelope by showing how the past, present, and future can come together in a unified concept. Overall, it breaks down all notions that only museum-type displays could look and feel at home in such a venue. 

"The idea of Mirabilia and in general, of our future projects, is that of mixing history and contemporary, creating heterogeneous atmospheres, setting-up modern icons, recovered furnitures and objects by emerging designers," she adds. 


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The result is a relatable, approachable, and even emotional take on design aspects in architecture that Alessandra often works with. We see balance, atmosphere, humanity, and time take center stage and be appreciated by a wider audience, all thanks to the curious meeting of "low-cost designs with the permanence of handcraft, the simple with the richly decorated, the generically international with the specific qualities of the place."



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For those just discovering PLUS ULTRA studio, it is also important to know that the Italian firm strongly believes in doing without "trademark designs," as they can limit who their work can appeal to and hinder the creative process.

Instead, they focus on their clients' needs and the stories they wish to tell through design, sometimes coming up with projects that can be contradictory. However, despite the wide-ranging work they do, there is one approach to design that never disappears: the many ways in which "the small pleasures in life" can be interpreted. 


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"In our designs we try to involve moods and memories; to do it, we don't fear of breaking rules and we enjoy creating contradictions," Alessandra details. 



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And with a venue as beautiful and unique as the Villa Imperiale, Alessandra couldn't have found a better place in which a design laboratory—a limitless safe space conducive to tinkering with design—could be housed. 

"When I became an architect it has been almost natural finding a way to exploit this heritage not only as a source of inspiration and it gradually became the place for our experimentations, our workshop," Alessandra reveals. 


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Mirabilia continues to evolve and expand as we speak, growing to accommodate more and more of Alessandra and her team's dreamy concepts of design.

To see pictures from the exhibit and design laboratory, scroll through the gallery below:



Photos by Giulio Dallatorre


Banner and thumbnail photos by Giulio Dallatorre | Photos courtesy of PLUS ULTRA studio