Italy and design are synonymous. In the world of design creativity, be it industrial design, art, fashion or furniture the world looks to Italy for inspiration. Since Roman times, Italians have led the way. It has been that way for such a span of time that this ability is more than heritage; it is a bloodline that sees and values the beauty hidden in an object.
Getting it right – Italian chic
Bring up Italian decorating in a group of people and you will doubtless get a number of varied interpretations on the meaning.
There are parts of the country such as Tuscany and Venice where tradition is deep and the characteristics of the decor are famed. But, these are regional themes. To outsiders, extravagant replication of neoclassic ideas are very common interpretations of what Italian decorating is all about but that is something to be preserved in history, not suitable to today’s chic Italian lifestyle.
Today’s Italians are in a race to improve the appearance and functionality of their living space. It has been that way really, since the problems of the post-World War II era had been dealt with and Italian fascination with creativity was free to flourish once again.
The race will no doubt continue until some future catastrophic event changes its course…
Italian decorating today most definitely means leading edge. Leading edge in a way that you should not confuse with Modern.
Leading edge that doesn’t completely fit your understanding of Contemporary. Leading edge that stands alone as “newborn” Italian decorating. Newborn from a marriage of the creativity of a host of world leading designers with the strong traditions of master craftsmen, in a setting blessed with a wealth of solidly constructed, long occupied structures.
The finest of the old meets the best of what’s new
For clarity, it is important here for you to remember there is a difference between design and decoration. You, the decorator work with the design of objects that are already out there. In the case of “modern Italian”, decoration is the putting together of the finest and most fitting of traditional objects and the best the new wave has to offer.
Furnishing your home in a simplified manner, with functional fixtures and objects to satisfy the demands of a hurried life, and familiar fixtures and objects that make you feel comfortable and secure.
If comfortable means placing an efficient, design award winning desk of cantilevered plate glass and stylized chrome upon a floor of well-aged terra cotta and it looks and feels good, then it is good Italian decoration.
Your attention is focused on an expression which is respectful of a philosophical approach to life and art while simultaneously providing utility.
Colors and texture
Color trends call for the use of natural neutrals and white based tints that won’t intrude upon the role of accessories or the impact of quality furnishings. Walls are smooth, sleek, clean and modern. Gone are the days of lots of wall texture and monochromatic fresco paintings. Limited use of tone on tone for applying color to walls where you want more depth is acceptable. The goal of wall color is to more modernly define the space in an older building. Save the introduction of deep color for the accessories.
Marble is widely used for entry floors, hallways and in Italian decorating bathrooms. It is well polished and texture free. You won’t find any wall to wall carpeting. Floors are generally finely crafted terra cotta and ceramic tiles with parquet wood laid down in bedrooms only.
Furniture is your big opportunity to show off the best of modern Italian design. Not a lot of furnishings are called for but they will all be of utmost quality and fine line design. Exotic woods like bamboo floors, with deep clear lacquer finish or finely worked wood with brilliant, deep colored polyester finishing.
Sofas and chairs combining a show of chrome and soft, luxurious Italian worked leathers. Introduce some color here.
Color is added to floors with Persian rugs and large Venetian plasters and tapestry on walls. Be selective about the pieces you choose because you will be looking for impact from quality and use of ‘white space’, not quantity.
Do not add clutter when you add accessories. Choose them wisely to represent the most forward of modern design. Floor lamps and desk or table lamps should be looked upon as artistic accessories, not lights. Let one single, special piece be a connection to the past.
The end result
Will be a mind clearing total departure from what Italian has been.