Interior design Roberta Borrelli’ styleIndustrie Toscanini
The concept of the home is changing, as we discovered with the Covid-19 pandemic, when our domestic environment became a multitasking space. The new generations are less dependent on stable roots than their predecessors, but that doesn’t mean they have no time for beauty. Indeed, if anything, they are on the lookout for iconic and design objects that relate to their story. One typical example is the wardrobe, which can be a source of pride if it’s organised in an orderly manner, with stylish bags, boxes and clothes hangers. It’s in situations like these that the interior designer plays an essential role, by giving every home the ideal personality, with a mix of styles that tell a story. In this interview, the architect Roberta Borrelli describes how she seeks out and selects high-quality solutions at accessible prices.
The evolution of the concept of the home as described by Roberta Borrelli
Q: As an architect and creator of spaces in the home, how do you see the transformations which are currently taking place on the domestic front?
RB: There are two fundamental trends in the evolution of the home as a concept and a living space. The first is linked to the change of generations. The younger generations, the Millennials, for example, are nomads, who move around to meet the demands of their work, studies and their needs in general. This means that they don’t have the same notion of the “forever home”. Their roots are more flexible than those of previous generations, but that doesn’t make them any less devoted to beautiful things, quite the opposite in fact.
Young people choose with great care the iconic objects they want to surround themselves with and which they might take along with them in the course of their lives. They prefer fewer items of better quality than a pile of frivolous objects that soon go out of fashion, or low cost articles of poor quality. For this reason, durability is just as important as design. They are looking for an accessible kind of beauty, and brands must take this into account to design and produce objects that reflect these characteristics. The second factor, of course, is the pandemic…
Q: Covid has transformed many of our habits and has had an impact on the way we live in our homes. How would you say the home has been transformed over the last twelve months?
RB: The home has undergone a profound transformation. What used to be simply the domestic hearth has now become a multitasking space in which we study, work, exercise, cook and meet new people. The never-ending video calls, online learning for the kids, digital aperitifs with friends and acquaintances – all these things have broken down the doors of our private rooms and opened them public. And we’ve had to rearrange the spaces so that everybody has their own base, their own place to retreat to in the course of the day.
We’ve had to reinterpret the home on the basis of these new requirements and more. We’ve also spent time making it more attractive, tidier and more functional. We’ve bought desks, changed the sofas, replaced the mattresses and created Zoomproof backgrounds. The home has become our workplace, and the workplace our home, in a contemporary vein, obviously, and this has meant the arrival of new objects, the transformation of traditional spaces into multifunctional ones depending on the time of day or who occupies them at any specific moment.
The potential of the Made in Italy and the search for the essential in interior design
Q: On the subject of accessible quality, what does Italy have to offer today?
RB: Italian production is divided between luxury and everyday quality products. There’s a lack of structural offer of mid-range products which would make buying beautiful and quality objects more accessible.
Italy has an abundance of skilled craftsmen and small companies that make exactly these types of product, but they’re largely invisible to a whole host of potential customers because their presence doesn’t extend beyond the local market. This is where the architect comes in, bringing together these capable suppliers with their potential customers. A part of my work involves seeking out and selecting skilled craft specialists and quality companies capable of offering prestigious solutions at accessible prices. Objects of quality are an expression of the personality and identity of their owners, so they can convey who they are through these beautiful things and grow, so-called, portable roots.
Q: Then there’s the matter of sustainability, which is particularly important to the younger generations.
RB: yes, that’s right. If our homes aren’t as packed as they used to be with furnishings and ornaments, it isn’t just because the new generations move around a lot more, but also because they knowingly choose sustainability. There’s a lot of design being re-circulated and today, people prefer channels other than the traditional store or showroom, where they can buy iconic second hand items and give them a new lease of life. If there’s one thing that the pandemic has taught us, it’s that we need to be more essential, that we should only keep what we really do use, or things with a true aesthetic value. We’ve cleared out our wardrobes and cupboards, decluttering, tidying and liberating our homes… well, as long as everything stays neat and tidy, of course!
Objects we can relate to: arranging the wardrobe and home styling
Q: Let’s take a closer look at the wardrobe, then, which is clearly very dear to us…!
RB: While we’ve been forced to stay at home, we’ve ended up doing things we would never have taken into consideration before – we’ve all become bakers, pastry cooks, painters, decorators, knitters and just a little bit fanatical about keeping things neat and tidy. Lots of people have taken advantage of the extra time on their hands to reconsider their wardrobes, cabinets and cupboards and transform them from containers stuffed with a bewildering array of half-forgotten objects into spaces with their own aesthetic dignity. They’ve bought boxes, bags and clothes hangers and racks to make their wardrobes more functional, turning them into a space that we can be proud off, rather than something to keep hidden away.
Personally, I like to use my clothes “theatrically”, if you like, by leaving them on display on stands in the bedroom, for example. I like to look at them, admire and experience them even when I’m not wearing them, because I’ve found that, I can use them to create a highly personal and rather surprising decor effect. In any case, they often look even better on clothes racks than when we wear them!
D: What can you tell us about your Make your Home blog?
RB: The idea behind the blog and my work is to help people customise their spaces. We might be talking about a minor project such as rearranging a bedroom or something bigger, like a full reassessment of an apartment, but whatever the situation, my aim is always to operate on a bespoke basis according to the real needs and the personality of those who seek out my services.
To do this, I ask my clients lots and lots of questions, to find out not only what their tastes and expectations are, but also to learn about their living habits. We discuss together how to give the home the right personality, which isn’t that of the trend of the moment, which turns too many homes into nothing more than a replica of the same concept. What I look for and select for my clients are objects of character, with the right mix of styles, to achieve results that are always different and unique, with a little bit of design, a hint of tradition and a touch of vintage. People are more open nowadays, and more willing to turn to professionals for advice on how to restructure or furnish their homes. And this only goes to prove that our approach to living is in a state of continuous transformation.