14 January 2020
Founded by Davide Campari in 1915, opposite Caffè Campari which his father Gaspare, creator of the bitter liqueur of the same name, opened in what was then the very new Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in 1867, this iconic Milanese bar was restored in the Seventies and extended in the Nineties, reopening in November with a new look and a new innovative cocktail and food menu.
This latest Lissoni Associati project is firmly rooted in Milan, because Camparino in Galleria is the famous bar in which the history of the aperitivo became legend.
The interventions were tailored to be as “silent” as possible, discreetly chiming with the existing building, leveraging its historic heritage and Art Nouveau decor.
The architect Piero Lissoni had this to say: “As architects, our job was to add a hint of modernity, but we simply wanted to offer our interpretation, like when a piece of music is played by another musician. I tried to create a contrast between natural, classical and modern elegance, bringing together the essence of Camparino in Galleria, our design and the food of Davide Oldani.”
The restyling operation played out in different forms on each of the three floors of the bar. At street level, a conservative approach was taken to refurbishing the historic Bar di Passo, capitalising on its historic Art Nouveau heritage, taking in the bar counter, the lighting, the mosaic and the coffered ceiling, making the spaces even more welcoming. The restyling mainly concerned the first floor Sala Spiritello, which looks out over the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, and included redefining its present and future identity, geared to showcasing the new cocktail and food offering. The long central statement island serves as a counter, with a mirrored ribbed-effect finish. The Venetian mosaic flooring and striped walnut woodwork, along with the crossed internal panel fronts, which complement the staircase, confer a marked uniformity which is boosted by the effect of the diffused, even lighting from the coffered ceiling. The room features the original 1921 Spiritello (The Sprite) poster by the painter and illustrator Leonetto Cappiello, one of the fathers of modern Italian advertising poster art, which has become iconic of the Campari brand and a symbol of Italian graphic design. The basement, once home to the storage areas, now contains the Sala Gaspare Campari, set up for courses in bartending, tastings and private functions.
The three floors are brought together by a feature full-height wall, decorated with original old bottles and objects that trace the history of the brand, providing visual continuity between the three different parts of the bar. “For me, Camparino is not just a place for an aperitivo, but a place where things happen all day long, from morning to night. It’s not just a bar … it’s simply Camparino.” So, a place for everyone, yesterday and today.