x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

A Minute With: Daniela Rossi, the founder of Autentico Living

The creator of the Dubai-based supplier of eclectic European furniture has lived around the world but says she feels settled in Dubai.

"I was lucky enough to be brought up in Italy, a country where design and fashion are entrenched into the culture." Antonie Robertson / The National
"I was lucky enough to be brought up in Italy, a country where design and fashion are entrenched into the culture." Antonie Robertson / The National

Home is where I can be with my family and be true to myself.

In the past six years I have moved across three continents, four countries and six houses, packing and unpacking all my belongings at least once every 12 months. At that pace it is challenging to lay deep roots in any geographical location, no matter how enchanting the place or how embellished the four walls you live in.

I learnt that as long as my family was with me I could be anywhere. Not that I travel light when I relocate: my container followed me faithfully from Italy to Australia and then back to London, landing in Dubai two years ago. And here, for the first time in many years, when and where I least expected it, I feel settled.

What I love most about Dubai is that it is a city with a vision. It's a cosmopolitan city that manages to preserve its traditions while welcoming new ideas.

I remember being in Hong Kong and seeing the skyline from Felix at The Peninsula Hotel and thinking, "Nothing will ever beat this view." Then I came to Dubai and it surprised me with its futuristic and ever-changing skyline.

Dubai possesses some of the greatest contemporary architecture towering above stunning beaches, with sunny days all year around. It is basically an ideal location, not just to visit but even more so to live in. I initially thought I would be in Dubai in transit, but its charm makes me not want to leave.

Right now I am working on a boutique in Saudi Arabia with exquisite, tailor-made upholstery pieces exclusively designed for the client, and a lounge in Dubai with a modern and clean look.

I'm also looking for the right showroom to display the whole Autentico Living collection. I'd be happy to team up with an existing interior design studio or showroom if we shared the same mission and concept but it's been an ongoing search for the last six months.

Dulcis in fundo, I just started to work on a mouth-watering project for a chocolate-related event to be held in Dubai this March. Time is incredibly tight but, as a chocoholic, I had to take part.

This year, more than ever, I aim to find the right balance between family and work.

I have initiated a journey with Autentico Living. My inspiration comes from the very different experiences that I have enjoyed in my life.

I was lucky enough to be brought up in Italy, a country where design and fashion are entrenched into the culture. I have also had the opportunity to work in three different continents, where some of the most acclaimed designers of our time have been my mentors. I've been enriched in all the things I've done. However I've always been true to myself.

I never wanted to follow a path. I would instead try to go where there was no trail.

In my studies I opted for Chinese; in sports I went for softball and in work I wanted to express myself and my experiences through unique pieces of design.

The daily challenge is to do all this in between school runs and afternoon kids activities, but it's only the combination of both that makes me feel complete and fulfilled.

If I could design one thing that I haven't yet, it would be my own place here in Dubai. The frenetic daily routine that I had wished to leave behind in Milan and London has, luckily or unluckily, followed me here to Dubai. As a working mum I often wish the days were made up of 48 hours, although I would still not find the time (or the tranquillity) to look around me and properly design my home.

I would never want to live in a showroom house, but in my current home I might have gone to the opposite end of the spectrum. I really feel that I broke all design rules.

If I had to choose between form and function, by nature I would choose form. But since I became the mother of two girls I realised that living in a functional and safe space is second to none. My mission became to create design pieces that were decorative and functional at the same time, to find fabrics with the best textures that were still washable and to present practical solutions without compromising the aesthetic.

The easiest way to jazz up a space is to add a statement piece that will act as a focal point. Don't play it safe and be brave when looking for this focal point, or it will blend in with the rest of the room rather than standing out. That's what pushes me to constantly search for quirky and exclusive pieces and to infuse bright colours or bold shapes to create contrast.

On my iPod, you'll find the Noisettes, Duffy and Amy Winehouse.

The most important designer of our time is the eclectic and rebellious Philippe Starck with his avant-guard, subversive, ethical and humorous design.

Design is important because it can add flair to anyone's life - whether it is design in fashion, design in home decor, design in wellness or in gastronomy. Only a couple of decades ago design was restricted to art galleries for the elite. Nowadays design is a lifestyle that is shared, enjoyed and appreciated by many.

For more information, visit www.autenticoliving.com

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