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a milan restaurant reimagined by debonademeo studio

Debonademeo Studio has revived Contraste, a luxury restaurant hidden away behind a courtyard gate in Milan. The Michelin-starred restaurant occupies the mezzanine floor of an early 19th-century building, which has opened with colorful new interiors that celebrate the structure’s history. The entrance sets the stage for a theatrical experience, as guests are greeted by a shimmering ‘zone d’accueil’ wrapped in champagne-colored foil. Here, a sculpture, aptly named ‘the secret,’ emerges from the wall. This approach extends into the main dining area, where a system of velvet drapery in vibrant colors transforms the large space into four distinct atmospheres, with each room washed in its own specific color.

The Michelin-starred restaurant Contraste was founded in 2015 by Uruguayan chef Matias Perdomo, Argentinean sous-chef Simon Press and Italian maître Thomas Piras. Now it has taken on a new life nearly nine years later.

images © Serena Eller Vainicher

restoring intricate 19th century details

With the renovation of Contraste, the team at Debonademeo Studio collaborated with a technical committee to uncover the building’s hidden historic character. This exploration brought to light surfaces, stuccoes, decorative elements, and frescoes dating back to the late 19th century. Rather than demolish existing walls, the studio embraced a concept of ‘natural fluidity,’ integrating these historical details into the new layout. Restoration specialists carefully brought these elements back to life to preserve the building’s heritage.

The designers comment:The restyling of Contraste took shape from three design approaches: that of recovering the building’s historical-artistic heritage, the functional one linked to the restaurant’s operational needs, and the experiential one.’

Debonademo Studio Contraste Milan

the colorful, contemporary atmosphere of ‘contraste’

With each room of Contraste, Debonademeo Studio draws inspiration from one of the four elements: Air, Earth, Water, and Fire — which are translated into specially-design wallpapers. These wallpapers are ‘conceived by transforming 19th-century Vedutism into an enigma, amidst symbolism and alienating elements,’ the studio explains.a visual rebus where jarring elements and unexpected details appear among the symbols of water, light, earth and air, aimed at stimulating, cheering up and surprising the customer during meals.’

Beyond the wallpaper, Tarkett vinyl flooring features bands of contrasting colors, while custom-designed boiserie and wall claddings add character and movement to the space. Each room is furnished with Liberty tables and Ester leather armchairs by Pedrali. Fluorescent yellow trolleys with oversized wheels, designed by Debonademeo Studio, playfully dot the restaurant. Beyond the dining areas, a Klein blue ‘Relax room’ features pops of orange and a plush leather bench, offering a restful space before or after the meal.

Debonademo Studio Contraste MilanDebonademo Studio Contraste Milandebonademeo redesigns milan restaurant 'contraste' with colorful hues and historic details