Interior Designer MBIID Maurizio Pellizzoni applies an Italian appreciation of style and design to homes in his adopted city, London, and increasingly to overseas projects, too. From listed buildings and other period properties to new builds and spacious country mansions, his schemes place clients’ comfort and sense of wellbeing first. Here’s how he does it.
How did you get started?
I moved to London nearly 20 years ago, mainly because I wanted to learn English, and worked in retail, ending up in Ralph Lauren, in ladieswear. From there I made the decision to go to university and study interior architecture. While I was studying I was still at Ralph Lauren working on the creative team as a freelancer for Ralph Lauren Home. When I graduated they immediately offered me a job, so I was doing all the showroom preparation for London, Milan and Brussels.
I was there for three years and I had started doing the showrooms in the Hamptons and New York – the travel was fun at the beginning but it became exhausting. So I decided to do something for myself. First I was freelancing for a property developer, making £20,000-a-week apartments ready for rental – they had to be fully dressed with bedding china, everything. And bit by bit I started to get projects of my own.
What did your time at Ralph Lauren teach you?
It was there I learned the meaning of luxury, and how to dress things to make everything looks beautiful – that final touch, not just the furniture but picture frames, artwork, objects. At university, they teach you a lot, but they don’t teach you real life, and in a corporate environment you need to be careful with the budget as well as making sure everything looks perfect. That’s been a really good discipline.
When I started to get my own projects a lot of them came as recommendations from Ralph Lauren – people came into the store wanting the same look and feel, so they recommended me. I was lucky to be in the right place.
How do people want to live now?
People want to feel comfortable sitting having a coffee on a Saturday morning without being scared to touch the furniture because they might ruin it. That’s not a home, that’s a show flat.
I don’t want to make something that isn’t personal: especially in London, you see a lot of repetition, but there’s no personality in that. That’s not why I got into design. The most rewarding thing for me is for the client to come back and say they love their house.
I don’t like to come in at the start of a project and take everything away because people have furniture that’s a part of their lives, it’s a part of their story. Sometimes the colour scheme can come from those existing pieces, or we’ll reupholster, which can transform a piece.
Are there certain materials you like to use?
I like mixing textures – cashmere, leather, silk, all together. I love walnut, and gold as an accent – in fact, metal in general, which always gives some luxury. My own studio has walnut panelling with a gold-chain chandelier. It’s also very functional though: I designed it to be like a template for a studio flat, to show what would be possible in a small space.
Do clients always know what they want? If not, how do you tease it out of them?
You need to listen. You need a lot of understanding of who they are and how they want to live, and sometimes it takes time. Everyone knows what they like when they go to buy food, or clothes – and everyone knows what they like with their homes, but sometimes they don’t want to say, because they’re shy or whatever. Clients will say they are going to give you carte blanche, but the moment you make a mistake and do something they don’t like, you realise that it’s not carte blanche!
What inspires you?
I travel lot – travel’s really important. If I see something I always take a picture or take away a business card. London is my city but I love New York and I try and go every year; I’ll often find artwork for clients there. The design scene is different to London, so it’s good to go out there and see something different, like the hotels and restaurants. I find a lot of inspiration there.
What does luxury mean to you?
Luxury means to be able to create a home you can truly enjoy living in, but it’s also about how we manage a project. Design is not just about creating something beautiful – it’s about to listening to what people want, delivering it on time, and creating something that will last forever.