She believes the pandemic made people more aware of the serenity home life provides. “A key question for us now is ‘How does this space make me feel?’ Quiet, refined, calm spaces with considered elements and open spaces are what ultimately feel soothing. Key ingredients of the style are symmetry, an avoidance of diagonal lines, natural materials and a muted palette, which quiet our senses and allow us to recharge. I’m attracted to art that can overwhelm the senses but I wouldn’t want to live in a space that feels like this.”
Consistent use of materials is important, she says. “We carve elements from the same block of stone or marble to give continuity to a space,” she says. “For example, we’ve worked on homes in the US where we’ve gone to Italy to source marble, and selected a block that is laser-cut for all slabs, counters, sinks and doors. The veining matches throughout and shows a consideration for fine detail.”
Historical precedents for the style, she adds, include architect Piero Portaluppi’s Villa Necchi in Milan – a mansion that was pioneering for melding Italian rationalism, Art Deco and state-of-the-art creature comforts, such as central heating, electric blinds and a dumb waiter.
Identifying a house’s key qualities and bringing them out via carefully considered design details is another characteristic of the look, says Richard Parr: “In my projects, I draw the design out of the place itself. I use locally sourced materials that don’t jar with a house’s environment – and in inventive ways. Our interiors are very architectural – we keep to the fabric of the building, only adding a simple layer. For a house in Suffolk, we are installing glazed ceramic tiles inspired by amazing colours I saw on a local river shore.”
What tips can designers give to achieve the style in an accessible way? “Make sustainable choices when selecting furniture, and mix old and new pieces,” counsels Clémence Pirajean, co-founder of London-based interior and product design studio Pirajean Lees. “Avoid trends. Instead create a look that’s personal and tailored to your lifestyle. Incorporate objects you’ve collected on your travels abroad. Accumulating items over time will help establish your home so it doesn’t look brand new but feels timeless and lived-in.”