Mod­ern Ital­ian de­sign has earthy ori­gins

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - DEBBIE TRAVIS

THERE is no mis­tak­ing the con­tem­po­rary en­ergy and con­fi­dence of Ital­ian style. We are all fa­mil­iar with the low, clean lines of fur­nish­ings con­ceived by to­day’s bril­liant Ital­ian de­sign­ers. They jux­ta­pose mod­ern ma­te­ri­als — plas­tics and steel — with tra­di­tional woods in a man­ner that brings the past and present to­gether. I find it very ex­cit­ing.

When­ever I visit the Ital­ian coun­try­side, I am swept away by the earthy beauty of the land­scape. The colours of the soil vary in the un­end­ing stretch of val­leys and hill­sides from vi­brant terra cot­tas to warm shades of ocher and deep burnt um­bers. Th­ese are the colours that have been im­preg­nated into the plas­tered ex­te­ri­ors of their build­ings for cen­turies. We find this same time-hon­oured pal­ette wo­ven into the up­hol­stery fabrics that hug the sleek curves on a sofa, or cover the frame of a plat­form bed.

Per­haps be­cause of their abid­ing love for their coun­try’s lin­eage, Italy’s con­tem­po­rary de­sign edge fits as com- fort­ably along­side an an­tique wall fin­ish as a sparse black back­drop. When I spot­ted this stun­ning liv­ing room se­ries by Ital­ian de­signer Gior­gio Sa­por­iti at virez­in­te­ri­, I rec­og­nized it would be a bril­liant com­ple­ment to any mod­ern space. The geo­met­ric pat­terns in the car­pet and ta­ble, and a splash of or­ange and yel­low on the sofa, are grounded by rich chocolate brown striped cush­ions. But I could also pic­ture Sa­por­iti’s IL LOFT fur­ni­ture in a fres­coed liv­ing room with plas­ter pil­lars and a mar­bled fire­place.

I love the colours and ver­sa­til­ity found in Ital­ian in­te­ri­ors. Years ago, I learned to em­u­late the look of faux mar­bles and aged wall fin­ishes with paint and plas­ter. This gave me the tools to cre­ate the look of fab­u­lously ex­pen­sive in­te­ri­ors at a frac­tion of the cost. Al­though some of the more styl- ized paint fin­ishes have be­come dated, walls that ap­pear to have been aged by the sun and weather have never lost their ap­peal. The util­i­tar­ian and low-labour dry­wall used in build­ings to­day can look like the aged plas­ter walls found in an Ital­ian villa with the ap­pli­ca­tion of a few coloured, wa­ter­based glazes. An­other op­tion is Vene­tian plas­ter. This prod­uct is avail­able in white and colours. If you can’t find tinted, the paint store should be able to mix in a colour for you. The plas­ter is ap­plied over dry­wall with a spat­ula. Start with ran­dom patches of colour and fin­ish­ing with a top coat of white or gray, al­low­ing some of the colour to peek through. Gor­geous.

I have made my ca­reer shar­ing th­ese en­dear­ing style recipes with my tele­vi­sion au­di­ence and read­ers. Much of the in­spi­ra­tion for my work has come from Italy, and I have cre­ated a new ven­ture that en­ables me to share my pas­sion for this coun­try and their ex­quis­ite life­style. Sev­eral times a year, I hold a get­away for women of dif­fer­ent ages and back­grounds. It’s an amaz­ing week spent in an an­cient villa in south­ern Tus­cany, a breath­tak­ing place where the land­scape changes around ev­ery bend. We meet a fas­ci­nat­ing mix of peo­ple who in­spire us all to fol­low our dreams. If you’d love to join me, please con­tact me through my web­site (deb­bi­

Gior­gio Sa­por­iti’s IL LOFT liv­ing room fur­nish­ings glow with the colours and tex­tures of Italy.

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