Name: Federica Squillante Montoro
Company: Maii Interiors
Position within company: President, Partner, Principal Interior Designer
Tell us a little about your background in design (education, experience, etc)
I grew up in a peaceful yet uncharacteristic family environment. My father uprooted his medical practice in Rome and relocated our family to Mato Grosso Brazil, a region which contains three of the world’s most spectacular ecosystems: Cerrado, Pantanal and the Amazon rainforest. The closeness to nature informed and sensitized me to environments, to shapes, vibrant colours, textiles, local and indigenous people, to natural materials, craftsmanship and to light – we were surrounded by open clear unpolluted skies.
Upon returning to Rome to complete my studies, I pursued and shared with others, ideas about interior spaces that had been incubating in my head. My choice was to use friendly free environmental materials that have not undergone treatment; cooper, iron, leather, wood, wool, linen etc…
I wanted to create luminous interiors that allowed the natural light to filter into spaces. I found that by using materials of choice: brass and copper – both of which reflect light, I could create spaces where airiness, comfort and luxury co-exist harmoniously, solidifying the concept of wellbeing as a trademark of my work.
How would you describe your personal design style?
In essence, classic-contemporary with commanding emphasis on balance, materials, details, light, the authenticity of craftsmanship, and exportation of the “made in Italy” brand.
I would say balance is a hallmark of my personal design style. Using it the way I do, allows me to stabilize spaces psychological and where needed, create optic illusion.
In my interiors, natural and artificial light is essential to the design plan. They have the same iconographic equivalency. Often, I walk through a space in the dark, observing where light intervenes between shadows. The skilful, intelligent and thoughtful selection of materials, attention to detail and finishing are components that compliment and characterise my style.
Where does your design inspiration come from?
I draw influence from surrounding environments, from the fineness of materials, from Italy’s age old culture and the characteristics that distinguish it, from artisan ateliers – though nearing extinction – still carry on the ancient trade of craftsmanship.
I admire the large scaled windows in Paris, how this architectural feature hosts the external light in its internal environments. I observe how light filters in from the outside, how its minute, hourly transformation effects our emotions. In one Instant, flooding a room with brightness, yet in another, casting shadow and contour onto objects.
In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?
I see design moving closer to eco-friendly environments, use of renewable energy resources, developing environmentally sustainable materials, integrate engineering systems.
However, given that the Corona virus (COVID 19) is the topic of the moment and will continue to impact societies in ways unimagined a few months ago, a seismic shift to the direction of design has already begun. The design community is galvanized and united around how to refigure, rethink, how to render personal, public spaces and the workplace multi-purposeful going forth. The pandemic has reminded us that we are a global community with converging futures. The reality of which calls for a re-evaluation throughout our institutions, public and private sectors, prioritizing new approaches to spatial efficiencies in design practices. This new reality requires us to be selfless.
Name five key themes to consider when approaching design in 2020 and beyond.
· Smart working – rethinking public-private spaces
· Classic Contemporary Warmth
· Organic Shapes.
· Smart engineering – Hidden/integrated systems
· Artisan practices
If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to design schemes, what would it be?
I would advise taking a non-conventional approach to drawing up your design scheme. Ask what your internal barometer informs, has the brief been clear? Find the symbiosis between you and the client – a sort of meeting of “animas”. After all, this is where your design starts – the visceral connection between you. Having understood your client’s expressed desire is a cue to proceed, to give the space a new identity. Tell a new story.
How important are The International Design & Architecture Awards?
The IDA Awards cement camaraderie and solidarity within the community of designers and architects. All of whom I believe willingly celebrate and join the exchange of ideas around the projects of peers. We get a chance to view works of designers from cultures different to our own. Here at Maii Interiors in Rome, we take great satisfaction in being part of a select group and gaining access to a global platform where not only personal brand is promoted but our work becomes connected to a larger story: that of the international design community and importantly, the “made in Italy” brand. We very much feel a bond to the artistry, the aesthetics born in antique Rome. The significance of being able to showcase our country’s artistic tradition and cultural history at such an important venue does not escape us.
What projects are you currently working on?
Two stunning ocean-front resort properties in Montego Bay, Jamaica; several luxury residential apartments in Rome and ground-up sophisticated apartment in Paris.
What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?
Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself and your daily inspirations:
Your favourite holiday destination? My home at the sea
Your favourite hotel, restaurant & bar? Favourite hotel; Soho House, Fattoria – London;
Restaurant – Meraki Greek, London (W1W 7QT )
Your favourite book, film & song? Favourite book, “Follia” by British novelist Patrick McGrath, Film “ Oltre il Giardino”, Song “Moondance” among other songs by Van Morrison
Your favourite food and drink? Melanzane parmigiano – I drink water
Your favourite way to spend an afternoon? Osservando what unfolds around me
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be? I would have been a chef
Anything else interesting?
I find design challenging and exciting, particularly now with COVID 19 looming over our lives.
What concerns me at the moment is the role I can play as a designer, an entrepreneur, and professional with a family life during and after the COVID 19 crisis, which we see already has begun to reshape, redefine and shift how we live in our personal spaces and how we must re-organize our workplace and secure technology that will allow us to do so.
I shall seek to make use of my experience as a designer, to become an influential voice in helping reshape our environments.
From another perspective, I delight at the !WOW! when my clients cross the threshold and enter into a changed environment. Their enthusiasm, even awe, energises me, particularly when I hear the magic, ‘you have captured my anima.’
I thrive on the collaboration I have nurtured with Italy’s artisan community, our shared passion to uphold the tenets of craftsmanship and the sustainability our firm gives to that tradition.
Maii Interiors have been shortlisted for Living Space – Europe Award and Kitchen Design Over £150,000 Award in The International Design & Architecture Awards 2020.
design et al only work with the world’s leading designers.
If you think you have what it takes to complete in The International Design & Architecture Awards, submit your application by clicking here.