Ferrari opened the door, hastily, rushing me in. His eyes were glittering, and his tufts of gray hair bobbed up and down as he directed me to sit in a small, hot pink velvet chair. “Mollino’s life is that of a genius, of a completely extraordinary man,” Ferrari cooed, settling into a seat opposite mine. “We have one hour, but it would take more than a month to explain who he was. Luckily, Casa Mollino offers many clues. His presence is everywhere.” His eyes drifted around the space, taking in a zebra-skin rug, sculptures of a disembodied foot and a horse’s head, a flower that bore a seashell in place of a bud, and a fresco sporting an image of a nude Roman sculpture, with a large leaf superimposed over its package.
From there, Ferrari launched into the abbreviated story of Mollino’s life. He was born in 1905, the son of a very wealthy engineer. By the age of six, he was already drawing cross-sections of car engines and cameras with great accuracy. One drawing, in Mollino’s archive, which is housed on Casa Mollino’s upper floors, shows an outdoor scene; it’s bordered by a note of shock from his teacher: “Carlino drew this drawing in perspective, without any help, at the age of six.”