Empire state of mind
Rome’s ancient architecture proved an irresistible draw for the owner of this city-centre apartment
Looking out over the crumbling walls of the Imperial Fora, the public squares that were the beating heart of the Roman Empire in Italy, is the home of Stefania Aristei and her partner Daniele. A lawyer who has now turned her hand to design, hospitality and fashion, Stefania has a deep affection for the ancient ochre-toned buildings and narrow, cobbled lanes of Rome’s central Monti district. So much so that many years ago, she packed up her home in a quiet, residential area on the outskirts of the city and moved to this bohemian neighbourhood, with its community of young designers, artists and craftspeople.
Stefania’s large, shuttered windows look out directly onto the area’s ancient churches and small galleries, and her apartment is blessed with architectural elements that match its impressive setting. The rooms – all connected by a spacious entrance hall – boast impressively high ceilings, complete with wooden beams and original coloured cement tiles. The kitchen and guest room are situated on one side of the living room, with the main bedroom and a dressing room at the opposite end. Historical details are celebrated throughout, but the overall effect is one of modern elegance.
‘I grew up in a large house furnished with antiques,’ remembers Stefania. ‘At first, I thought that contemporary furnishings would look too cold in a historical 19th-century apartment like this.’ But, having commissioned local interior design firm Dispensabile Studio, her eyes were opened to a very different aesthetic. The studio’s partners, Germana De Donno, Elena Cardilli and Angela Sabrina Stante, convinced Stefania to decorate using furniture with a Nordic heritage – pieces by Verner Panton and Alvar Aalto, as well as more recent designs by Space Copenhagen and Gamfratesi. ‘I discovered that the contrast of eras and styles actually brings out the structure of the building without obscuring any of its architectural beauty,’ adds Stefania.
‘My choice of designer furniture comes from my desire to surround myself with objects that have a story,’ she explains. ‘These pieces complement the age of the apartment in a delicate, refined and referenced way.’ In a similarly Scandinavian move, the colour scheme for the interior is largely white and soft tones of grey. ‘They are colours that I find relaxing, and suggest balance and harmony,’ says Stefania. ‘Living in such a bustling neighbourhood, those are very important qualities.’ dispensabile.it
Living area The ‘Avant-après’ sofa is by Sergio Bicego for Saba Italia. A ‘Multi-lite’ pendant by Gubi hangs above a ‘Pedrera’ coffee table by Barba Corsini, also Gubi. The portrait on the wall is Axum by Thayaht, from Galleria Carlo Virgilio & C Stockist details on p195
Living area ‘Swoon’ armchairs by Space Copenhagen are paired with a ‘Pon’ side table by Jasper Morrison, both for Fredericia Portrait Homeowner Stefania Aristei sits in front of a 3D-mirrored wall panel made of ‘Mirror Sculptures’ by Verner Panton for Verpan Stockist details on p195 ➤