Creating the ODP Studio with Architect Elizabeth Francis

Creating the ODP Studio with Architect Elizabeth Francis

After months of searching for the perfect space, ODP Founder Allison saw a listing which had the ideal floor plan and location. The only problem?  It needed to be completely renovated, a project that could be very daunting in the historical center of Bologna, with a complicated tangle of restrictions and permits needed, not to mention the task of creating the right ambiance. But thankfully Allison called dear friend and Irish-born Bologna-based architect Elizabeth Francis, who was up for the challenge, together with her partner Roberta Baccolini.

Officina del Poggio Allison Hoeltzel with Elizabeth Francis

"I wanted that someone visiting the studio would feel special and welcome in ODP’s home. It is a creative and collaborative space that shows respect for the past but with contemporary flair. The intention was that the space would convey the quality and craftsmanship that ODP is known for.” - Elizabeth Francis 

ODP Studio Elizabeth Francis

Elizabeth put together a team of artisans who were able to restore original features, complete with a carpenter named “Giuseppe” and affectionately called Gepetto, who restored the original frieze doorframes and large arched door.  

Detail Officina del Poggio Studio Interior

Over the next six months Allison and Elizabeth scouted vintage markets and online shops to source original vintage pieces.  Allison’s favorite piece?  The original column sink and sanitary ware designed by Gio Ponti for Ideal Standard, circa 1950.  

“I found a lot of mid-century pieces, like the 1950’s wardrobe by Silvio Cavatorta and the Vittorio Dassi bar.  So when we started decorating the bathroom I wanted it to have a similar feel.  We selected graniglia terrazzo tiles, and I happened to come across the sink in an expired auction. I spent weeks searching for another one.. I finally found the set, even new with stickers still attached!


Graniglia Terrazzo Tile ODP Studio

"My favorite original detail is the ironmongery on the tall and elegant glass doors and timber shutters. My favourite contemporary detail is the new cornice downstand with integrated  LED lighting that conceals the myriad of cabling required to transform the studio into a functioning modern workspace." - Elizabeth

ODP Studio Allison Hoeltzel

Getting to know Elizabeth Francis:

What three words would you use to describe your personal or preferred architectural style?

My preferred style is quality, beautiful and rooted in its context – time and place.

Your favourite piece of design or favourite architect/architecture? 

The work of the architect Le Corbusier has accompanied me on my architectural journey. I started university in the year of the centenary of his birth and so had a full immersion in his ideas, works, innovations. After graduating, I moved to Paris where I had the privilege of working for many years in one the Maison Planeix ateliers during my time with MCA. Some of my most special shared memories with my dearest friends have been made while visiting his buildings – the city of Chandigardh, the monastery of Sainte Marie de La Tourette and my last trip to l’Unité d’Habitation in Marseille.

Le Corbusier Unité d'Habitation de Marseille

Favorite city in Italy?

I live in Bologna which, in my opinion, has the most beautiful urban environment in Italy - we walk the streets with polished marble beneath our feet! Venice, however, is unique. My role as Commissioner for the Irish Pavilion at the 13th Venice Architecture Biennale gave me the opportunity to spend of time there and understand the workings of the city behind the tourist scenes. There is a different measure of time in a city that moves to the rhythm of the sea.

Elizabeth Francis was born in Co. Donegal, Ireland. She studied architecture at University College Dublin and graduated with honours in 1993. She has worked in France, Ireland, the UK and Italy. Before founding her award-winning practice Atelier Francis Srl, she was partner is MCA architects. Based in Bologna, Atelier Francis cultivates cultural links internationally through architectural design, consultancy and curating events and exhibitions in the fields of architecture, art, and design.


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