Michelangelo Foundation Homo Faber Event
The Michelangelo Foundation Presents
The Michelangelo Foundation Presents
Imaginary Architecture
Imaginary Architecture Imagined by: India Mahdavi
Craftsmanship in the service of imagination
Immerse yourself in imaginative interior design

Artisanal skills have huge potential to shape and inspire contemporary interior design. Discover how traditional fine craftsmanship can be used to make exciting new spaces for modern living by exploring two contemporary ‘follies’ created by renowned designer and architect India Mahdavi. Drawing on her vivid imagination and harnessing the remarkable skills of European artisans she has worked with throughout her career, Mahdavi tells a personal story of her relationship with craftsmanship. Wander through these two highly inventive spaces and see how they reflect the passion and knowledge of artisans, put in the service of the imagination of a visionary designer.

Discover the catalogue

Henri Rousseau Forever

In this abstract winter garden, Mahdavi pays homage to Rousseau, the French post-impressionist painter known for his rich forest scenes. She does this by using rattan, a natural material she has always loved and has used in her designs for a long time. Here, she collaborates with some of the few remaining rattan artisans in Europe to create beautiful handmade chairs, masks and intricate rattan marquetry panels. Through the hands of the artisans, Mahdavi tells the story of her relationship with rattan, showing how this noble, traditional material can be transformed in new and sophisticated ways. These beautiful rattan creations are offset by a black and white mosaic floor, bespoke mirrors and dramatic lighting created especially for this exhibit by Italian master craftsmen. Together, the artisans in this space show how traditional skills can make a vital contribution to contemporary living.


This contemporary upholstered living space in the shape of a rotunda draws on Mahdavi’s characteristic use of bold colour and her long history of working with master upholsterers. The walls feature exquisite embroidery made by a long-time collaborator, while the upholstery is so complex it can only be handmade by specialist artisans. Mahdavi pays homage to the exhibit’s beautiful setting in Venice by using Italian fabrics such as velvet and satin, and designing a typically vibrant colour scheme that evokes the sea. With its intricate handmade details, this space demonstrates the importance of the human hand in contemporary design, showing how fine craftsmanship gives added value to interiors in a way in which machines simply cannot.

Italy (bench)

Italy (fabric)

Rattan Deco
Spain (rattan chairs and marquetry)

Scuola Mosaicisti del Friuli
Italy (mosaic floor)

AAV BARBINI SRL (Barbini Specchi veneziani)
Italy (mirrors)

François Passolunghi
France (rattan masks)

Italy (lighting)

Edition Bougainville
France (carpet)

De Gournay
England (embroidery)

De Castelli
Italy (brass windows)
Imagined by:
India Mahdavi

Architect and designer India Mahdavi studied architecture in France and industrial, graphic and furniture design in the US before returning to Paris to open her own studio in 1999. The studio is known for the diversity of its international projects which explore the fields of architecture, interior design, scenography, furniture and object design. Among her many projects, she has most recently created interiors for Ladurée in Geneva, Tokyo and Los Angeles, The Gallery at Sketch in London and I Love Paris by Guy Martin at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. She has received numerous awards and is frequently invited to speak at conferences and sit on juries around the world.