The other day my friend Azzurra Muzzonigro asked me to contribute a short piece about how my work space and routine are overlapping with my family’s domestic life and space in our Turin (Italy) apartment during the lockdown for a feature on her blog called “Domestic space is the new public space”. Here’s what I told her.

 

Ralph seen from my work desk through the small window

My current daily routine is actually very similar to my previous one, seeing that I basically work in a large closet at the end of a long hallway from which we removed a wall so that I could access it from the adjacent bedroom rather than from the door. When we moved in, we had a small opening, a “window” of sorts, cut into the door at the end of the hallway at the height of my daughter’s face (who at the time was seven years old), which ended up right at my eye level, so, upon her knocking, I could open the little panel that covered the opening and see her smiling face perfectly framed in my own “little window”. Luckily, I still have a “real” window in the bedroom next to my studio/closet that looks at the now quiet and deserted outside world (and much further away the hill of Superga).

What is different now is that my little studio/closet window, which opens onto the hallway, is being opened and closed a lot more often, because beyond it there’s a lot more life. I hadn’t thought about it, but this opening has become my true inside/outside view onto a series of intense intra-domestic movements: my wife going from one room to the other, ending up in the living room where she works and where she holds her lessons; my daughter wandering from room to room before ending up in her bedroom where she tries to recreate her social and academic life. There’s actually a great coming and going right before me. And this little window that until just a few weeks ago was used mostly to keep an eye on what the cats were doing (usually sleeping) — or to throw them a crumpled up piece of paper so they would quit bothering me, or that I would use to say hello to whomever was coming in from the front door (at the other end of the corridor) — has now become my primary window looking out at a home bustling with life and activity, full of new and complex interactions; of inventions and revelations; of hope and anticipation; and, sometimes, of tension and anxiety. Even the cats are more active. Well, Ralph, the male, isn’t, he still sleeps a lot; but Marlene, the female, doesn’t seem to understand why we’re always around, why this small window that used to stay mostly closed gets instead opened all the time; and why these weekends are lasting an eternity.