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Inside a Palazzo in Italy: Samuel Ross Unveils a Labyrinth of Orange Pipes


In a collaboration that marries the contemporary with the historical, British designer Samuel Ross has transformed an Italian palazzo into a thought-provoking art installation. The project, titled "Orange Pipes," is a maze-like structure constructed with bright orange pipes that snake through the grand interiors of the palazzo, creating a juxtaposition of modern industrial design within the opulent Renaissance architecture of the historic building.

A Fusion of Art and Architecture

The palazzo, which dates back to the 16th century, is located in the heart of Milan, Italy. The building itself is a work of art, featuring ornate frescoes, intricate moldings, and grand marble staircases. Ross, the creative force behind the celebrated fashion label A-COLD-WALL*, sought to engage in a dialogue between the palazzo's rich history and his own contemporary design ethos. By introducing the unexpected element of brightly colored pipes, Ross unites the two disparate worlds of art and architecture in a compelling and visually arresting manner.

Exploring the Space

Visitors to the palazzo are invited to wander through the maze of orange pipes, which meander through various rooms and hallways, creating a sense of disorientation and discovery. The installation challenges traditional notions of space and invites guests to reconsider their perception of the palazzo's grandeur. By disrupting the architectural harmony of the building with the angular and industrial nature of the pipes, Ross prompts viewers to confront their preconceived notions of beauty and order.

The Inspiration Behind "Orange Pipes"

Ross drew inspiration for "Orange Pipes" from his own experiences growing up in London, where he was surrounded by the urban landscapes and infrastructure of the city. He cites the omnipresence of construction sites and scaffolding as recurring motifs in his design aesthetic, and "Orange Pipes" serves as a physical manifestation of these formative influences. By appropriating everyday materials and recontextualizing them within the context of a historic palazzo, Ross exposes the tensions between the ancient and the modern and challenges the viewer to engage with these opposing forces.

A Study in Color and Form

The choice of bright orange for the pipes is a deliberate one, as it serves to create a striking contrast against the palazzo's muted and earthy color palette. The color has a dual effect, both standing out boldly against the richly textured walls and ceilings of the palazzo while also harmonizing with the warm tones of the historical building. This interplay of color and form underscores Ross's commitment to creating an immersive and dynamic spatial experience, where every element of the installation is carefully considered to enhance the visual impact and emotional resonance of the space.

Immersive Experience and Temporal Experimentation

"Orange Pipes" is not merely a static art installation; it is also a temporal experiment that evolves with the passage of time. As natural light filters through the palazzo's windows, the orange pipes cast dynamic shadows and reflections, creating an ever-changing play of light and shadow that animates the space. In this sense, the installation is a living, breathing entity that responds to the ebb and flow of natural light, adding an extra layer of depth and complexity to the overall experience.

Historical Context and Dialogues

The presence of "Orange Pipes" within the palazzo also sparks conversations about the preservation of historical spaces and the role of contemporary design within these contexts. By integrating his work into the fabric of the palazzo, Ross prompts viewers to consider the ways in which we interact with and interpret historical architecture. The installation acts as a bridge between past and present, inviting contemplation on the relationship between tradition and innovation, permanence and impermanence.

Multi-sensory Engagement

In addition to its visual impact, "Orange Pipes" also engages the senses in other ways. As visitors navigate the maze, the sound of footsteps reverberates through the palazzo, creating an immersive auditory experience that adds another layer of interaction with the space. The tactile nature of the pipes themselves further invites viewers to physically engage with the installation, as they can run their hands along the smooth, curved surfaces, further emphasizing the multi-sensory nature of the experience.

Reactions and Reflections

In the wake of its unveiling, "Orange Pipes" has garnered widespread attention and acclaim within the art and design community. Critics and visitors alike have lauded the installation for its boldness, creativity, and thought-provoking nature. Many have commented on the ways in which the installation challenges preconceived notions of space, blurring the boundaries between art and architecture and prompting deeper reflection on the relationship between the past and the present.


In "Orange Pipes," Samuel Ross has created a captivating fusion of contemporary design and historical architecture, uniting two seemingly disparate worlds in a compelling and visually stunning manner. By transforming a centuries-old palazzo into a labyrinth of orange pipes, Ross challenges viewers to reconsider their perceptions of space, beauty, and tradition. The installation serves as both an immersive art experience and a thought-provoking exploration of the intersections between history and modernity. As the art world continues to grapple with questions of tradition, innovation, and preservation, "Orange Pipes" stands as a testament to the enduring power of art to provoke, inspire, and transform.

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