Here follows a guest blog I posted on my friend, photo-stylist, Annette Joseph's blog a while back:
I write about a lot of things for a lot of people. One day I’ll be writing about pumpkin-stuffed ravioli, and the next day it will be wrought iron lamps. What ties most of this together is - usually - impeccable taste. Finding luscious things to write about in Italy is almost too easy some times. But given all that choice - art, food, travel, monuments - what seems to pull me in time and again is Italian rustic architecture. (Is that why I married an Italian architect? Or was it the other way around?) And in fact, most of my books, including my most recent, Italian Rustic, always pull me back to that theme.
One of the things I love about Italian rustic architecture is the chance to explore how the layers of Italy come together. Within the framework of an old farmhouse restoration, new solutions are born. Architects, designers and homeowners adapt these ancient buildings in ways I always find inspiring and exciting. One of the masters of this type of adaption is Ilaria Miani, a Rome-based interior designer.
Miani’s career as one of Italy’s most successful designers came about almost by chance. She and her husband Giorgio had bought a crumbling ruin in Umbria about 20 years ago. Setting out to restore it, they knew that they wanted to retain the original architecture and spirit of the stone structure. But they wanted to avoid at all costs the fake rustic ‘country’ look that was all the rage in Italy. Think gingham curtains and lots of ruffles. Yet going sleek and modern wasn’t really what they had in mind either.
“I didn’t want to give up the elements that I loved about rustic design” Miani told me, “The feeling of handcrafted objects, using local materials crafted in the same workshops that had been operating for centuries. This is what I wanted, but couldn’t find.”
So Miani decided to design her own line of furnishings. Seeking out local craftsmen in Umbria and Tuscany, she designed items that she herself wanted. First filling up her own homes, her work soon became known and she was swamped with requests from friends and other designers for similar pieces. She proceeded to open a showroom and store on Rome’s chic Via Monserrato and continues to explore the connections between ancient materials and methods married to cutting edge design.
Miani’s playground continues to be the houses she and her husband restore in Tuscany. They have just finished house number eight, and are a constant source of inspiration for me. I was lucky enough to feature three of their homes in Italian Rustic, (Here are some of my favorite images. (Photos thanks to Simon McBride)
If you’d like to rent one of their villas visit their site.(password: tower). And if you’d like to browse through Ilaria’s catalogue of furnishings visit her store's web site: (password: tiramisu)