“Elegance lives with those who can combine the sensibility of the past with the structures of contemporary society” - Julian Fellowes, screenwriter for Downton Abbey and Gosford Park
Imagine a Tuscan villa, a Tudor style home, or a Georgian mansion. What do the interiors look like? What kind of kitchen do you see? Which style of furniture? Which type of accessories?
Most of us have a pre-conceived idea of what a period home should look and feel like on the inside based on what we are used to know, from experience. “Period” means past, and past is traditional. It can’t be polluted with intrusions of modernity.
But why? Who says it has to be either-or? Why can’t we have the best of both worlds: the delight of soaking in the memories of the past, with its enduring beauty, while enjoying the streamlined functionality of the present?
When you grow up in Italy like I did, tradition is never far out of sight. It’s something you breathe every day, an essential part of yourself and a constant reminder of where we came from. But it’s also something that you learn to see side by side with the extreme expressions of modernism, the things you can no longer do without. It’s the Baroque building with the sleek Ferrari parked in front of it. It’s the fortified walls of the old town where you walk your dog every evening while checking emails on your iPhone. Ancient or brand new, they are all pleasures we seek and crave.
Past, present, and future are always part of us so why not play with them in our own home to create an environment that, like us, has no physical or temporal boundaries and doesn’t want to stop evolving?
This is exactly what’s happening in what I believe to be the most exciting new trend in home design.
From Medieval castles and Renaissance villas to re-imagined barns and restored historical
dwellings, Italian period homes are preserving their architectural integrity while liberating their interiors with contemporary design; with fresh shapes, minimalistic settings, and state-of-the-art technology.
The resulting contrast is not a clash; it’s not a desecration of atmospheres that are better left untouched.
It’s an intriguing tale of surprise and emotions where every space shows layers of depth that add value to both the architecture and the design within.
It’s an ongoing dialogue; not a shouting match.
When we put an object of contemporary design in a historical context, the magic of the old emerges even clearer, while the object becomes truly unique and original, thanks to its unexpected surroundings.
Art can help us understand this. The best works of art are those that own up to centuries of creative influences, yet reinvent them in a new light that captures the spirit of the times. Artistic originality is about honoring what came before while answering the needs of the moment.
So, if you have the luck of living in a period home, I invite you to embrace this new trend of elegance.
Being a constantly changing space where we spend a lot of our time and perform many
activities, the kitchen is the perfect place to start building your own work of art by mixing architectural history with contemporary design. Conventions don’t tell a story. It shouldn’t be either-or. It’s both, like us: always evolving yet never forgetting where we came from.
Stay tuned for more examples and expert insights on this trend coming in future posts.