It took only a dizzying two months from idea to execution for interior designer Sophie Wannenes to open her first gallery, PalermoUno. Set in her former home and studio on the second floor of a quintessentially Milanese apartment building (think colour-blocked marble inlay, classical architectural references, triumphant entranceway) overlooking via Palermo in the city’s Brera Design District, the 150 sq m space is the latest on an already long list of first-rate galleries and showrooms that call the neighbourhood home. Wannenes, a decorator and vintage dealer by trade (her family has been in the business ‘for centuries’, she says), her goal was to open a place that expressed her creative vision while introducing clients to the designers and artisans she has come to love.

As a gallery, PalermoUno plumbs a typically Milanese kind of glamour. There is a deeply saturated yet buoyant colour palette, an eclectic mix of furniture sourced from the ever-fertile vintage markets populating Italy’s northern hinterlands, plus a neatly edited range of contemporary pieces by designers from both home and abroad. Wannenes describes her curatorial method simply as ‘a personal statement’; for the first iteration of the gallery (there are plans to overhaul the design and selection twice yearly), she chose pieces that spoke to her own aesthetic, without worrying too much about following an overarching theme. ‘The only common denominator is what I like,’ she explains, ‘there are pieces from Sweden, Italy, the Czech Republic — it’s a huge mix from all over’.

Interior design at PalermoUno gallery, Brera

Employing a typically Milanese glamour, the gallery combines a deeply saturated colour palate with an eclectic mix of Italian and international furniture. Photography: Andrea Pedretti

Wannenes’ list includes iron dining room chairs by New York-based Mario Milana and vintage Pierluigi Colli seats reupholstered with fabric by Kirkby Design, alongside Marzotto Edizioni tables and bookshelves by Pietro Russo, while interior textiles include pillows by Dedar and graphic rugs by Ilo. The apartment’s precipitous ceilings are well utilised, hung with beaded thread-like chandeliers by Mason Editions, pendant lamps by UK-based Tala and lanterns by Czech glassmaker Bomma. Tabletop pieces like totem-resembling Simona Cardinetti vases, FFerrone glassware and vintage knick knacks adorn surfaces in the kitchen and dining areas. The unifying concept behind the project is that everything — from the paint on the walls (Ressource Peintures) to the towels in the bathroom (Harmony Textiles) — are available to purchase through the gallery, which skews the vibe from hands-off design gallery to cosy local shop.

According to Wannenes, the easygoing atmosphere was very much intentional. ‘I want to create a community,’ she explains of the project, which has already opened a call for young designers to participate her inaugural Salone del Mobile exhibition, ‘it should feel like home.’ §