The Divine Office of Massimiliano Locatelli

March 5, 2015 2:01 PM

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“YOU ARE IN PARADISE,” Massimiliano Locatelli says with a smile. We are seated at a Lake Garda–shaped, python-skin-covered table of his design, in what feels like heaven’s skybox: a plexiglass-enclosed conference room that seems to float in the upper, vaulted reaches of San Paolo Converso, a 16th-century former church and convent in Piazza Sant’Eufemia, not far from Milan’s celebrated Duomo (whose facade was fashioned by many of the same skilled craftsmen who later worked on San Paolo).

So close to the ceiling are we that I can practically reach out and touch any number of faded cherubs, or the painted banner reading ascendo ad patrem meum—roughly, “I go up to my father.” Locatelli gestures to a set of regularly spaced holes lining the ceiling’s edge, not visible from below. “These...

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