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Curiosity drives the genie

It’s 3:30 p.m. and Maurizio Stocchetto, owner of the Bar Basso, crosses the door of the historic Milanese bar as usual, and with a smile across his face he greets us and orders his coffee. Son of Mirko Stocchetto, inventor of the famous “Negroni Sbagliato”, Maurizio is a funny and kind-hearted man. It’s from his father that he has inherited elegance as well as the talent of making you feel at home

Human of Light Maurizio Stocchetto
Photography Luca Caizzi
Art Director Enrico Magistro
Place Bar Basso, Milan

We are in via Plinio, Milan. A subtle afternoon light cuts through the wide windows, declaring with discretion that it’s spring at the gates. Leaning on the counter, an old lady sips a vermouth while the waiters prepare to serve the aperitif. They place the glasses on the shelves, plate up the appetizers and serve soft drinks to anonymous passers-by. The place is filled up with dozens of objects, silent proofs of memories, beauty, design and pieces of history. Few of those, the most precious, are kept inside crowded glass cabinets, enlightened up by few Ventose, tiny lamps designed by Achille Castiglioni, as much peculiar and unique as what is inside those very cabinets. It’s 3:30 p.m. and Maurizio Stocchetto, owner of the Bar Basso, crosses the door of the historic Milanese bar as usual, and with a smile across his face he greets us and orders his coffee. Son of Mirko Stocchetto, inventor of the famous “Negroni Sbagliato”, Maurizio is a funny and kind-hearted man. It’s from his father that he has inherited elegance as well as the talent of making you feel at home.

«We used to travel on small canadian bimotors that had twenty seats. I did even the translocation by plane, with the suitcases and the entire family. Eventually i took over the management of the bar basso»

Mirko Stocchetto, Maurizio’s father, arrives at Milan and takes over a bar that transforms in a brief time from a beer pub into the symbol of the Milanese cocktail. Having worked from Venice to Cortina D’Ampezzo, from Hotel Monaco to Hotel Posta, this nice gentleman comes from the world of the Venetian hotellerie.“After landing in Milan, he decided to release the hotel drink at the bar of via Plinio, which was an immediate success. This is also thanks to 1968: a year in which Italy made a huge step forwards.” Maurizio describes his dad as a hero, proud of being the one currently representing the Bar Basso.

A question arises spontaneously though.

Why did Bar Basso become the symbol of the drink during the Milan Furniture Fair? Which relationship is there between Bar Basso and design?

MS: I’m going to tell you a story that only few people know. When my father arrived in Milan and took over the Basso, the bar was mostly a place where popular and modest drinks were consumed, such as “bianchetto” and beer: people were concrete and they had no idea of the revolution Mirko was about to bring to the Milan beverage universe.

In fact, he started proposing hotel cocktails and his intuition went hand in hand with the entry of women in bars, mainly frequented by men up until 1968. At a certain point, also the issue of glasses arises. How to serve these cocktails in glassware that confers prestige on them and simultaneously facilitates for the waiters not to break them? Then Mirko remembered having a glazier friend in Murano, so he left for the Venetian town and began to design his “tailor-made” glasses. After several attempts and years of experimentation, the “Fragola”, the Big Glass for “Sbagliato” and the Little Glass for martini cocktail were born. The Bar Basso’s glasses were born.

So, how the link with Design is forged?

MS: I started working in my dad’s bar in the 80’s. Those were the years in which Milan became an international destination for fashion designers and industrial designers. So, I ended up, through a mutual friend, in an evening with a group of delightful young English designers including Jasper Morrison, Konstantin Grcic, James Irvine. Obviously, I brought them to my bar, the Basso, and I would have never thought that after a few years those guys would have become famous names in international design. Of course, we got drunk. The friendship with these guys was preserved over the years, the mutual esteem increased, and one day one of them, that I cannot nominate, told me that he needed to study on behalf of a client how Bar Basso’s glasses were made. So, my father and I organized a small seminar about the specific characteristics of our glasses, offering advice to those who are today the most famous designers in the world. That’s it!

The genius of Achille Castiglioni gave life to Ventosa, which despite its exceptional simplicity is able to give an innovative and revolutionary touch to any space or object to which it’s intended. This exceptional creation confirms the fact that curiosity and linearity can give birth to great ideas.

Maurizio tells us this incredible anecdote with the naivety and purity of a child. An exceptional man who loves his work and his Bar Basso, representing today, in Milan and all around the world, a brand, an icon in the universe of drinks and of design.

And when it comes to talking about icons and design we cannot forget the centenary of Achille Castiglioni, with a tribute to his Ventosa Lamp. An object of worship, initially designed as a handy solution to enlighten shop windows, never passed through production, that Flos will produce in a special limited edition. One of the features Castiglioni was particularly sensitive about was indeed the possibility to transport and carry objects. This research resulted in the design of light sources that could be easily swapped between different positions, till the creation of this tiny, playful lamp. The suction cap at its base allows Ventosa to be attached to almost any surface, and taking into consideration the eccentric nature of Achille, it should not surprise how he used to demonstrate this feature by attaching it even to his own body, forehead and nose included.

Human of Light Maurizio Stocchetto
Photography Luca Caizzi
Art Director Enrico Magistro
Place Bar Basso, Milan