Image: Entryways of Milan', edited by Karl Kolbitz

Milan is all about appearances. The right suit, the right tie with the right knot, the right label and the right cut of skirt with exactly the right shoes. It is about the right drink at the right time of day in the right bar. And your place to live is no different: first impressions are everything. So the city has expended a huge amount of effort on its hallways, those interstitial zones between the street and the apartment. But as what at first appears to be a superficial desire to impress becomes inscribed in the fabric of the city, it passes from the private to the civic, and these interiors become an ornament to the public realm.

Like the city's beautiful shop windows, the glimpses into these hallways become little moments of theatre. Flashes of colour and exotic materials, elegantly wrought metalwork and crisp terrazzo, sculptural concrete, mirror-polished marble, mosaic, trompe l'oeil and operatic stairs all add to the drama of everyday life and the surreptitious thrill of appearing to see into someone else's life, even though all you get is what has been very deliberately revealed.

These hallways are stage-set architectures for lives lived in public, in which the realm of the street is allowed to penetrate just a little into the interior, illuminating the city with surprise, flair and beauty.

These photographs are taken from 'Entryways of Milan', edited by Karl Kolbitz, published by Taschen Books on April 12, £49.99

This article was originally published by the Financial Times.Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017.

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