Money & Me: Interior design teacher finds that special place in the sun
Gianfrancesco De Falco is an architect and entrepreneur who runs his own design studio. The London-based Italian, 50, is also an interior design teacher at the Chelsea College of Arts, visiting the UAE three times a year to deliver lectures in Dubai.
Describe your financial journey so far.
I was raised in Italy by my lovely parents, who were always supportive of my dreams and goals. After earning my degree in architecture from the University of Naples, I moved around quite a bit for work, travel and family reasons, having the opportunity to experience many cultures, including the US, Spain and the United Kingdom. Throughout the years, I have learnt how to financially discipline myself. I managed my money well enough to buy a lovely flat in the south of Italy and I am now in the process of buying my first flat in London. I am now working very hard on building my interior design practice. My goal is to have my property investments act as an income over time and when I am older.
Are you a spender or saver?
I consider myself a conscious spender. I am not in any means a compulsive shopper, but I like to reward myself. One of my biggest weaknesses is buying gifts for those I love.
What is your philosophy towards money?
The pursuit of money is not always directly linked to the pursuit of happiness. It is important to be very mindful of the parameters that you have set for your own happiness, but it is also important to be ready to slightly change them if necessary. Passion is more important to me than money, it is the measure of success in my life. I am aware of the importance of money but I do not let money guide me. Every day I feel as passionate about my job as when I first started over 20 years ago.
Have you made any financial mistakes along the way?
I have been quite lucky so far. I always give credit to the experts and financial advisers that I have consulted over the years. I make sure to consult with a professional when dealing with any financial issue.
If you won Dh1 million, what would you do with it?
Invest it in a seaside villa somewhere where I would feel equally as inspired about my work. That would be a very smart as investing in property is pretty much a safe move. I would also love to create my own company and develop a private line as an artist, so I’d also invest in promoting my own art, my own self-production, opening an art gallery. At this gallery, my biggest goals would be to promote new talents and new forms of art.
What has been your best investment?
So far, my first seaside flat in the south of Italy has been my wisest purchase. Not only is property a great asset class to look into, but it is the perfect place to escape.
Do you plan for the future?
Rather than planning for the future, I am working hard to welcome a better tomorrow. By nature, I am a very optimistic and an extremely curious person. I believe it’s all about setting goals for yourself. It is also important be surrounded by positive people. Financially, my decisions are always supported by deep research, analysis and consulting expert advice. My next investment is to buy a flat in London – one of the safest investments, as London is an amazing city and it in terms of prices it always pays off. My goal is to rent the apartment while I am out of the country and keep doing that once I retire. I believe that the outcome from the rents will become by income my pension. I then plan to move to the hottest and sunniest places on the planet after so many years of hard work.
What do you enjoy spending money on?
Anything related to sport, music and travelling. I regularly cycle, play tennis and go to gym, so memberships and equipment are easy purchases for me. I travel a lot for work and pleasure, and seeing the world is worth the money to me. I think we need to love ourselves and there’s no better way to spend the money we earned than to reward ourselves.
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