A home in the life of The Italian designer Andrea Salvettie, famous for his nest chairs, talks about growing up in Tuscany and how being surround by nature has influenced his work.
'My garden is the woods' in Tuscany home
Can you tell us a bit about where you live now? I live in Tuscany, in the environs of Lucca. My home is an isolated farmhouse in the National Park of the Apuan Alps. I've grown up in the area and it's where I've always lived. I prefer not to move around. I'm like a tree in that respect; moving a tree means uprooting it and it's difficult to re-root it somewhere else. Nevertheless, I thrive on opportunity and discovery and, like a tree, bend with natural conditions as they present themselves.
What changes have you made to your house? I renovated the main farmhouse, completing the project and doing the building work myself. I'm now renovating another building on site but, as the whole property is quite large, the project will take several years to complete. I'm satisfied with how it has gone so far. The design is partly inspired by the 1970s Radical Architecture movement and also pays homage to the Eighties Milanese Design School and the purity of the traditional Tuscan farmhouse.
How would you describe your decoration and furnishing style - do you and your wife agree on design and decor? I live with my wife Patrizia, who is everything to me, and our three children. I always decide on both the decor and the design. My style is radical chic. As a designer, I aim to transform simple everyday things into objects that are rich and brilliant. Which is your favourite room in your current house?
The kitchen, because it is the heart of the home and, in true Tuscan tradition, is the most frequently used room in the house. I spend a lot of time cooking and entertaining there. It's an industrial stainless steel kitchen, similar to a restaurant's. It's very technical and functional. I'm not a qualified chef but I've been using food in my artwork and as performance art for some time now. I like using the language of food as a means to communicate in my work because it is common to everyone and therefore they can relate to it. Many contemporary art exhibitions and museums can be difficult to interpret and this tends to put people off. I also adore the outdoor setting of my home, which is wild and unspoilt. I'm immersed in nature in its purest form and it was the outdoor setting that influenced me when choosing the house. My garden is the woods, the pool is under the chestnut trees; it all speaks for itself.
Do you have pieces of your work in your home? I have many of my pieces throughout the house and pieces by other famous artist friends too. Pieces like The Tree and the Apparita armchair are my most popular works, but the Nest Chair is also well-known. The nest can be used to describe a bed, a home, a refuge. It is a metaphor for feeling closer to nature, and I feel and I'm very close to nature.
Are you a collector or a ruthless de-clutterer? I like to de-clutter regularly. I live surrounded by a few items but I make sure they're of the upmost quality. What, above all, does home mean to you? For me, it is a laid-back open house for friends and family to meet and - even more importantly - a place for me to think. It is my family that make it a home because they reflect that sense of community I spoke of earlier.
What, for you, is the true meaning of luxury, in relation to your home? It's the subtle balance between simplicity and richness; the essential and the superfluous. If you could live anywhere, where would be your ideal location? Certainly in this area, where I live now. I'd also like to live in a big city, such as New York or Los Angeles but only for brief periods at a time.
Have any of your past homes influenced your professional life? The two go hand-in-hand: they've both influenced each other. I always wanted to be a chef and an artist, both of which I've become. I studied art in Lucca and later architecture at the University of Florence and then I began working in Lucca with other artists and architects on one-off pieces of furniture. I've exhibited in the Galleria Megalopoli in Milan, at the Monozoo Collection at Lorrach, Germany and in New York where I devised a project on the relationship between art and food.
What design projects are you currently working on? I am working on a number of different projects for private homes [among them Philippe Starck's Venetian house] and some very big installations, such as the cupola Mazzolin di Fiori, which I'm adapting for a public space, as well as preparing some pieces for exhibitions in Italy and abroad. I also have some new projects in development that will be presented during the course of next year, one of which involves art pieces made of five different metals mixed together.