Giusi Mastro & the Bolidismo Movement
Rewind to the 1980s, a magical time for architecture in Italy. A time when Italian-born, now NYC-based architect and interior designer Giusi Mastro and her classmates at Florence’s Faculty of Architecture encouraged each other to get super curious about their own individual creativity. So curious that she and 15 colleagues became founding members of a cultural movement known as Bolidismo. A movement Giusi keeps alive today personally and through her architecture and design firm ORA studio NYC.
A Deep Dive into the Bolidismo Movement with Giusi Mastro
“Bolide is Italian for something going to high speed,” explains Giusi. “This movement was inspired by the design of the 1940s, which in turn was shaped by the planes and cars streamlined for fast movement. It incorporated the feeling of movement inside the design.”
Born to ceramist parents, a seamstress grandmother, and a builder grandfather, Giusi’s passion for beautiful materials and design began at a very young age. After studying ceramics and architecture in Florence, Giusi taught art history and interior architecture. And began designing not just interiors but also products.
It was during her time studying in Florence that Giusi co-founded Bolidismo. Pulling from American Streamlining and the Futurism movement, Bolidismo is all about a dynamic, true-to-self, naturally flowing experience. The movement is rooted in the shared values outlined in its 15-point manifesto; however, for each founding member, Bolidismo looks slightly different. For Giusi Mastro, Bolidismo is minimalistic and zen.
Alongside her ORA studio NYC team, Giusi creates environments that go beyond trends and beyond Bolidismo, entering pure contemporary now, either aesthetically or technologically, or both. Spaces where each client can detach from the outside world and connect with their inner self in a comfortable and harmonious environment.
The Future of Bolidismo
The importance of space to recharge from the speed of life around us exists now just as it did in the 1980s when Bolidismo came to be. Only now, the source is different.
During the founding of Bolidismo, discussions surrounding speed were not technological, “Instead, it was simultaneous action or faster thinking. At that time, cell phones, zoom, google meet, and even faxes did not exist,” explains Giusi.
With today’s fast, mobile lifestyle and AI future to come, having zen spaces with sensory-evoking, well-made, up-to-date furnishings, and appliances for living and work is essential.
A Quintessential Bolidismo Design by Giusi Mastro, ORA studio NYC
When it comes to Bolidismo in design, the movement radiates in moments throughout ORA studio’s work, including their recent Chelsea Loft project.
Creating luxury living with views of the Empire State Building, Giusi and her team brought on a major transformation in a commercial building in NYC’s Chelsea neighborhood. Gutted to be reclaimed by new owners who recognized the potential of its beautiful bones, this project is an architect’s dream.
Oh, and did we mention it is one of those gorgeous NYC expansive loft spaces with high ceilings, flooded with light from huge windows at either end? The opportunity to take this commercial space and reimagine it as a residence was exciting, to say the least, and spurred Giusi’s creativity.
The client was a European businessman with knowledge of the modern design idiom and a vision for a hybrid office/residence. The collaboration between designer and client generated continuous inspiration and excitement throughout the process. A fusing of custom designs with the highest-end contemporary Italian furnishings from B & B Italia, Maxalto, Flexform, and Poliform.
With a 3,000 square-foot blank canvas, Giusi designed an open plan framed with a sweeping kitchen, a large dining room, and a living room with the ambiance of loft living.
Since working as a lighting designer for the prestigious Italian manufacturer Targetti, lighting and how it can create an ambiance has fascinated Giusi. This became one of the signature components of her designs. And an important aspect of the metamorphosis of this Chelsea Loft project.
While light flooded in from both ends of the space, it was still insufficient to properly light the home. This is where Giusi’s comprehensive lighting design plan became essential. And where her notable ability to create light where there is none shines.
A library/office was placed opposite the living room, creating flexibility in the space needed for work and meetings. And boasting a classically contemporary desk by Poltrona Frau.
Giusi also designed a vast stone structure as the living room’s statement piece, with housing for the television above a warm and cozy fireplace.
A sofa and two chairs mark an optical transition from the living room to the dining area. There, a massive 12-foot-long table and eight chairs are visible from the entry—a promise of lavish hospitality and the space to entertain and congregate for dining and conviviality.
Bedrooms lay beyond the kitchen wall. Here, more generous space led to another original idea on the grand scale: a Poltrona Frau bed set against a 17-foot-long, 5-foot-high custom wood backlit headboard. A feature that gives the master bedroom character and warmth, creating flow for a peaceful sanctuary to relax and unwind.
While the walls throughout appear white, they are so much more than this. Thanks to Benjamin Moore’s extensive collection of colors, Giusi is able to harness the power of white’s many shades throughout this and all of her projects.
The Power of Art
The client had an exceptional collection of modern art. So, for this Giusi created a complex lighting plan and chose a palette of pale colors for walls and ceilings—neutral yet warm—throughout the loft. As a result, Giusi and the client created a deeply satisfying large-scale drama in an elegant space. A space that is light, minimal, and functional—the beautiful bones of the building transformed into a sculpture for living.
The Bolidismo Movement Beyond Architecture & Design, and for the Greater Good
If Bolidismo is about speed, fluidity, mobility, and dynamics, then its principles surely go beyond architecture and design as well. Bolidismo also appears in the Visual Arts, Sciences, Music, Literature, and beyond. That song that takes you on an auditory journey from rolling tears to beaming grins. That book that rapidly pulls you through it at a speed you can only muster under its command.
Some sources say Bolidismo is a movement of the past, but with Giusi Mastro we see a future to come!
© Photos by Richard Cadan Photography