In the year 2010, Italian interior architect Selina Bertola established Nomade Architettura in Milan. Having graduated from Politecnico di Milano in 2005, she moved to London to complete her Master’s in Interior and Spatial Design from the Chelsea College of Arts and Design, London. Selina Bertola honed her skills in multiple firms in London and Milan before establishing her own firm. In the last 13 plus years, she has made her name with some outstanding projects in the Caribbean Islands, Congo, United Kingdom, France, Germany and Switzerland, as well as in Italy. Nomade Architettura is an all-female architectural firm. It focuses on architecture and interior design, exploring various scenarios: from residential to commercial projects and retail projects to showrooms.

The Movie Den

Johnny D interacts with Selina Bertola to explore her journey so far and her interesting project ‘Chalet les Niveaux’ in the picturesque Italian town of Courmayeur.

What was your childhood ambition? Did you always wanted to be an interior architect?

As a child, I loved drawing.  I had even dreamt of becoming an illustrator for children books (smiles). When I was around 12, one of the teachers at school asked us to survey, measure and redesign our bedroom. I fell in love with the task. I remember myself doing research into design books and ‘inventing’ a mezzanine bed, way before IKEA was in Italy, and created a double layered bedroom. At that precise moment, I decided to be an interior architect (smiles).

Chalet Les Niveaux

What are the projects Nomade Architettura is currently working on in various cities / countries?

There are multiple projects we are working on at the moment. Renovation of a villa in Cannes, a beautiful historical villa in Rapallo near Portofino – it is one of those dream houses on the Riviera, with a beautiful liberty soul. There is another renovation project of a stunning farmhouse in the Italian Countryside Monferrato, the region famous for its wine. Apart from residential projects, we are also working on many retail projects for few luxury brands spread across Europe.

Relaxing Ambiance by the Fireplace

Please list 3 of your ‘Best Projects’ close to your heart. Describe each of them in two to three sentences.

It is not so easy choosing 3 projects, as most of them are close to my heart.

Villa Susanna: Our first Project, an amazing villa in the Caribbean that combines and merges the Italian style, the local colonial style and a mix of furniture and finishes that the clients have collected during their trips all over the world. It is an incredible place, surrounded by nature and combining the beauty of the landscape with the interior of the house.

Floor Plan

Villa sul Lago di Como: An amazing complete renovation of a 20’s Villa on the Lake. The exterior architecture is classic, while in the interior we designed a very contemporary, elegant and sleek house. We have worked with amazing materials and finishes and the result was exquisite.

Cescolina²: My family home. It is the second home I designed for my family. The first project was lovely, really different from the second one. I love it, because it shows an eclectic style, a game and a tension between the strong architectural elements, such as the huge pitched window and the more colorful interior finishes and elements.

Dining – Kitchen Area

What really goes in your mind, when the client states the first brief?

It is actually one of my favorite parts of the whole design process. I love reading through their words, gestures and the emotions that come from what they say. I believe it is very important for an architect to be able to interpret their clients’ needs, in order to answer with the project that better answer as to who they are and the way they intend to live in their home.

Sleek Kitchen

Being a good architect, especially when dealing with the house – the most intimate and private space – requires a lot of soft skills that allow reading through the words to connect with the person in front of you. Therefore, what goes on my mind is a sort of little film, in which I am picturing their home becoming real in my mind and taking shape after each of their words they emphasize.

Cozy Dining

What was the brief of the ‘Chalet Les Niveaux’ project?

The clients, a young and cool couple, wanted to combine the mountain elements with a contemporary look. They wanted a home that could be warm without becoming too heavy or too traditional. They wanted to create a language that could represent who they are – a mix of a typical cozy chalet with something more modern and clean. Earlier, we had worked on their City apartment, so we knew their personality and taste. It was a matter of translating it into a mountain environment.

View from Exterior

What are the main challenges designing a chalet in particular? How did your team overcome them creatively?

Mainly dealing with a job site that is different from what you would find anywhere else. The weather can create a few difficulties, especially during winter. The schedule, usually tight that we follow, had to be stretched to meet the local workers’ requirements. We basically had to adopt a way of working to speed up the process that is very different to what we are used to.

How would you describe the ‘Elegance’ of ‘Les Niveaux’ project?

Chalet Les Niveaux is smart, sleek, young and contemporary – a mix that well represent the young couple.

Floor Plan – Upper Floor

Please mention 5 major ‘Sustainability’ features you incorporated in the project.

  • The use of Local materials, sourced from the area (timber and stone);
  • The use of LED lights;
  • The use of high performance windows to maintain the internal temperature;  
  • Floor heating, and
  • Solar panels.


Every designer leaves a signature in her / his design creation(s). What is your signature style?

In every project I do, I like to follow my clients dream to shape my clients’ ideas of an ideal home. This is why clients appreciate the difference among our projects. However, I would say that in common they have clean lines, sharp elements and in a simple but incisive elegance.


What is the total area of the project, estimated cost and design-to-finish time period of the project?

The total area of the project is 180 sq. m. It took us 12 months to complete the project – from design-to-finish. Project cost is confidential on clients’ request.

How would you describe the current trending interior style in Milan?

Good question! I would say that people are returning to color, but in a subtle and an elegant way. There is new attention to the mid-Century style. I love it! There is less decoration in a baroque way and more attention to clean elegant lines, where colors help defining areas, accents and so on.

Luxe Bath

Which significant aspects of the global platform ‘zerobeyond – the new frontier!’ did you liked the most, and why?

I love that ‘zerobeyond – the new frontier!’ showcases various aspects of the world of architecture and interiors from an interesting and innovative point of view. I love how it picks interesting professionals to talk about architecture and interior design from all over the world. Picking up talents that are not necessarily worldwide famous and giving them a voice is what separates the global platform from the rest.

A Small Working Space

Hostile architecture is an eyesore and fast changing the urban landscape of prominent cities around the world. Architecture is meant to benefit the people / users at large, but the effects of hostile architecture are targeting people and depicting wickedness of the society and is against the ethos of architecture field. As an interior architect, elucidate your perspective about this unwanted trend in urban landscape.

I deal more with interior architecture. Therefore, my eye on hostile architecture combines my experience as a city inhabitant and my perception as a designer. I remember, when I was at the university we used to study many case studies about architecture projects that were designed to help people and creating some specific behaviors. But then, shortly after these places were used by people in a very different way.

Spacious Wardrobe in the Bedroom

I believe hostile architecture is doing exactly this to our cities, forcing some behaviors or mainly stopping some, but creating some that were not conceived. As an architect I still believe that designing a space must keep in consideration about how people will use those certain spaces to benefit the society. However, I strongly believe that those should be sort of suggestions, rather than an obligation.

View from the Kitchen

How would you describe Selina Bertola as a leader and a person?

Since the opening of Nomade Architettura, 14 years ago, I have put all my effort and energy to make Nomade other than a great architecture practice and a great place to work in. I strongly believe that living in an environment where everybody collaborates, where everybody is friendly and welcoming is a fundamental aspect of everybody’s daily life. As Leader, I would call myself ‘Visionary and Democratic’. I love sharing our goals and involve all the people who work with me towards our single mission.

Making a Statement

Honours and awards won by Nomade Architettura.

2021 – Big See Award.

The Entertainment Den

Photographer: Federico Villa

Image Courtesy: Nomade Arquitettura

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