UN­DER­STATED CHIC

WHAT DOES EV­ERY ROOM NEED? LON­DON’S LEADING DE­SIGNER, DEC­O­RA­TOR AND COL­LEC­TOR OF ALL THINGS BEAU­TI­FUL, PAULO MOSCHINO HAS THE AN­SWER.

DNA Magazine - - DESIGN -

“Our look whis­pers and never shouts,” be­gins Paulo Moschino in a thick, but elo­quent Con­ti­nen­tal drawl. “Real so­phis­ti­ca­tion is achieved by jux­ta­pos­ing pe­ri­ods, ma­te­ri­als and ori­gins. In essence, play­ing on con­trast.”

Orig­i­nally from Florence, Moschino has been a res­i­dent of Lon­don for over three decades. As a child, his con­ser­va­tive par­ents would not al­low him out at night and he’d spend hours re­ar­rang­ing his bed­room. “Go­ing to sleep at night in a newly re-ar­ranged bed­room was like be­ing on hol­i­day – very re­fresh­ing,” he quips. Moschino con­tin­ued to play the role when he moved to Lon­don, work­ing in fash­ion stores such as Joseph, where he re­alised he was far more in­ter­ested in re­ar­rang­ing the fur­ni­ture than in sell­ing the mer­chan­dise.

His big break came when he joined the team of Ni­cholas “Nicky” Haslam, the ver­i­ta­ble em­peror of Lon­don dec­o­ra­tors, in the mid1980s. Haslam, who pi­o­neered an eclec­tic but so­phis­ti­cated ap­proach to English in­te­rior de­sign, soon recog­nised Moschino’s tal­ents and be­fore long en­trusted him with de­sign­ing fabrics and fur­ni­ture for the com­pany’s two stores in the el­e­gant bor­ough of Pim­lico. In 1995, the or­gan­i­sa­tion split and it was de­cided Haslam would con­tinue with the dec­o­ra­tion busi­ness while Moschino would own and op­er­ate the re­tail units. Be­fore long, how­ever, Moschino was him­self be­ing asked to dec­o­rate clients’ homes and a new ad­ven­ture be­gan.

“You do a pair of cur­tains for some­body and they end up ask­ing you to do the whole house,” Moschino chuck­les. His style is best de­scribed as paired-down Euro­pean chic, but it is also, at times, quirky and in­trigu­ingly hu­mor­ous. While his Ital­ian roots shine through, any of the gilt-edged gaudi­ness that might be as­so­ci­ated with that ro­man­tic coun­try is re­placed by an up­right, re­strained and very Bri­tish un­der­stand­ing of all things se­ri­ous. Echo­ing the works of Sir John Soane, the English ar­chi­tect who spe­cialised in the Neo­Clas­si­cal style, Moschino’s in­te­ri­ors are also distin­guished by clean lines, de­ter­mined de­tail­ing, cal­cu­lated pro­por­tions and a skill­ful use of light sources.

For­mal­ity aside, Moschino’s pal­ette is won­der­fully re­strained in rich cof­fee colour hues, beige and cream giv­ing way to the odd shout (sorry, whis­per) of in­digo and rust-red. Moschino also has a few tricks up his sleeves, no­tably the pan­els of an­tique mir­ror which he loves “be­cause they dou­ble the size of a room – and space is al­ways a lux­ury in Lon­don”. He adds that ev­ery room needs to feel wel­com­ing, and ev­ery room should con­tain a sur­prise, “Lis­ten to the house and it will tell you what to do. Don’t be scared. Good dec­o­rat­ing takes courage.”

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