May 30, 2024

When Eric Egan began a renovation of his Milan apartment, he looked to hotel design for inspiration. After all, through his firm L’Artigianato, Egan is the man behind the decor of some of the world’s most beautiful hotel rooms—from those at the Mandarin Oriental in Lake Como to the Dogaressa suite at the Hotel Cipriani in Venice. And since he spends only part of the year in Milan—he has another home in Punta del Este, Uruguay, the hometown of his husband, Diego Cuña, and projects that have him hopping from New York City to Paris—it made sense to think of his Italian apartment as a pied-à-terre. “Much like a hotel suite, it is really for my personal use,” he says. “When I entertain, I do so in our showroom down the street.”

a living room with a light colored fabric loveseat, square cocktail table on a white rug, stainless steel panel behind sofa with a small framed painted landscape, japanese screenlike wallcovering

Francesco Dolfo

In the living room of designer Eric Egan’s apartment in an 1890s building in Milan, a custom stainless steel panel is framed by walls in his Fromental wallcovering inspired by antique Japanese screens. The vintage French sofa is in a Pierre Frey fabric, and the custom silk rug is by Fort Street Studios.

Location is everything, of course, in both lodging and homes. In 2005, Egan found his dream flat in an 1890s building across from one of his favorite Milan landmarks—the Sforzesco Castle, a 15th-century fort that holds works by Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. The redbrick castello abuts Parco Sempione, a charming expanse of meadows and groves planted in the style of an English garden.

a round dining table covered with panels of brightly colored panels, four steel chairs, a glass vase with greens, a bust sculpture on a black plinth, a framed artwork of a black upside down triangle

Francesco Dolfo

In the dining area, the table is draped in a vintage Etro fabric with Houlès trim. The René Herbst chairs are from 1928, the Murano vase is vintage, and the artwork is by Michele Zaza.

At 1,000 square feet, the apartment was ample, but the layout wasn’t exactly practical: Most of the space was taken up by a colossal foyer and living room, while the kitchen and single bedroom were much smaller. Egan lived in the space for over a decade before he embarked on a major redo in 2020 that embraced its unique proportions and improved upon them. He relied on his long experience in hospitality to create a home that exudes both comfort and grandeur.

a bedroom, seen from a hallway, has deep blue velvet walls, a window valance with short tassels, two small framed artworks, a bed with a wood headboard, white linens, and printed bedskirt, floor lamp beside bed

Francesco Dolfo

The bedroom walls are sheathed in a blue velvet by Rubelli. The bed linens are by Loretta Caponi.

By then, Egan knew exactly what he wanted his Milan home to look like. The Chicago native has lived in the city since 1990, when he enrolled in the Polytechnic University of Milan’s architecture program; he got pulled out to work at Gucci headquarters. The brand’s womenswear designer at the time, Tom Ford, encouraged Egan to study interior design at his alma mater, Parsons School of Design in New York. “Tom helped me to realize that my passion was interior design rather than architecture,” Egan says. “I trained to do high-end residential work and then stumbled into hotel design.”

His eye for refined details has become a signature of L’Artigianato. Egan loves such opulent flourishes as silken passementerie, hand-embroidered fabrics, and elaborate moldings and has forged close relationships with European makers who have been perfecting their craft for generations. His collaborators include Houlès, a French house specializing in trimmings and fabrics, and Giovanni Baccani, a master framer from Florence.

“The apartment is filled with things I bought over the years and really love.” —Eric Egan

Egan tapped Baccani to build a striking doorframe for his living room, made in the style of a gilded fine-art frame. On the other side of that doorway is an equally arresting feature: a hand-painted wallpaper inspired by antique Japanese screens, designed by Egan for Fromental, that wraps around the entire living room with no repetitions, making it essentially one sweeping landscape mural.

in a bedroom corner is a vintage chair with a green curvy frame and gold fabric seat with folded clothing , a colorful weekend bag sits on a dark wood floor, blue velvet walls with a collage of a woman's face

Francesco Dolfo

A vintage armchair in the bedroom is Venetian, the print is by Andy Warhol print, and the bag is by Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton.

The apartment is replete with five-star touches, from luxurious bed linens to swanky cocktail setups. But if a hotel suite is meant to appeal to a wide range of tastes, Egan’s home is in some ways the opposite. “It’s filled with things that I bought over the years and really love,” he says. His art collection includes a photo of Robert Mapple-thorpe taken by Francesco Scavullo, a poster of Grace Jones from his childhood bedroom, and a geometric painting by Michele Zaza. There are Ralph Lauren cushions on the sofa (“He makes the best,” Egan says) and nearly 50 pairs of Ray-Ban Aviators lined up on floating shelves in the bathroom. “Even after all these years in Italy, I’m still American and want to feel at home when I’m here,” Egan says.

a washroom with bright zigzaggy wallpaper, sink on one wall and radiator on the facing wall, moroccan floor tiles, a door opens to a room with a poster of grace jones hanging above a wood vanity

Francesco Dolfo

The wallpaper in the primary bathroom is a custom print by Fromental. A 1980s poster of Grace Jones is by Jean-Paul Goude, and the sconces are by RH, Restoration Hardware with custom pleated shades by Fortuny. The vanity is by Cosmic, the faucet by Zucchetti Rubinetteria, and the Moroccan floor tiles are by Walton Ceramics.

Meanwhile, reminders of his career as a hospitality designer are everywhere. His mahogany bed came out of the former Grand Hotel in Florence as it was being converted into a St. Regis. He bought his vintage Bang & Olufsen music player for a dollar during the renovation of the presidential suite at Milan’s Principe di Savoia. “I’ve worked on some of the most amazing grande dame hotels in the world,” Egan marvels. “I still kind of can’t believe it.” 

april 2024 cover elle decor

This story originally appeared in the April 2024 issue of ELLE DECOR. SUBSCRIBE

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