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