The duo has a particular fondness for hospitality projects because of the all-immersive creative freedom that such commissions allow. “The hotels and restaurants are interesting because you really have to think about how someone responds to the environment that you’re creating,” Moran says. “It has to be functional, it has to be interesting, it has to be timeless.”
Last year, Guadalajara—a city in western Mexico famed for its tequila and mariachi music—also became known for Casa Fayette, a 1940s colonial mansion that the pair transformed into a retro-inspired, defiantly colorful hotel. Throughout, they imagined Luso-Brazilian samba singer Carmen Miranda “arriving at the hotel with trunks of clothes, singing late into the night on the patio and having breakfast by the pool the next day late in the afternoon.”
With Miranda as their muse, the hotel was steeped in sultry, old-world glamor. In the common area, there are salmon-pink walls and a low sofa in a deep shade of purple; at the hotel’s bar, Tropicália-print chairs and gold tones amp up the air of sun-kissed decadence. The somewhat spartan hotel bedrooms are dominated by strips of color, like the mint-green headboards that frame crisp white bedsheets.
“We try to push our clients as much as possible with colors, materials and items of furniture from different eras,” says Moran as he reflects on Dimore Studio’s approach to design. “I think that’s our DNA: We take a historical approach to a project to give it some roots, and then we inject it with more of a contemporary feel.”
Although Moran hails originally from North Carolina, he has lived in Milan for so long that his English is occasionally flecked with an Italian slant. “My one year off has turned into 20,” he laughs, recalling how he fell in love with Italy’s fashion capital after visiting decades ago as a college student. He and the Tuscan-born Salci met through mutual friends and immediately connected. Both worked in creative industries—Salci as creative director at Cappellini, Moran as a graphic designer—and quickly began to collaborate on projects. By 2003, they had founded Dimore Studio and, two years later, had launched their own furniture line (their sumptuous pieces are shown at Salone del Mobile each year). As their clout has grown, so too has their company: Today, they preside over a team of nearly 30.
Their shared vision stretches beyond the parameters of a traditional business partnership. The two men have lived together in their shared home in Milan “forever,” says Moran, making them housemates as well as a creative team. A demanding workload, coupled with the industry’s numerous social engagements, means that they spend most waking moments together. But despite the intimacy, their relationship remains platonic.
“I know—it’s a really strange arrangement,” Moran says. “I really do think that in order to get everything done, that’s how it has to be. We start talking about everything in the morning, we have lunch together, we have dinner together. We have our own line of fabrics, a furniture design company, we participate in international fairs, and then there are all of the projects. So to get everything done, you basically have to eat, sleep and breathe the studio 24 hours a day.”
“Our life is centered on what we do,” adds Salci. “We work 24/7 because we enjoy what we do so much. It seems natural to work at the office and to take our work home.”