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In the summer of 2018, Toronto’s Alissa Coe relocated her ceramic practice to the hills of Northern Italy. “Years ago, on a trip to Piemonte, we fell in love with the landscape, the incredible artisanal heritage and the understated sophistication found in everyday life,” explains the designer, whose sculptural works can be found in such luxurious interiors as the Four Seasons Toronto and the Yihwa International Hotel in Taipei. “That dream became more focused: one day we would find an old farmhouse in the hills of Northern Italy to live and work.” Shown here: a historic wooden cupboard and one of the designer’s hand-made vases. “The built-in cabinet and diffused light,” Coe adds,” make this room, where we spend most of our indoor free-time, very special to us.”
While Coe and her partner, Matias Silva, were tidying up the 250-year-old structure, they discovered a number of charming details that grant the villa its distinct character. “At one time, this was a a functioning sink,” she notes, “now it’s one of the many eccentric features which makes this house so fascinating to us.”
“It was always a dream to work in a quiet, natural setting where the pieces I created could be imbued with the calm beauty of my surroundings,” Coe notes. Now, the dry stone walls and chestnut beams of her studio offer no shortage of inspiration – framing vistas into the surrounding terraced hills, home to vineyards and cattle and sheep farms. While the pair have not embarked on extensive renovations, their aim is to eventually convert the existing hayloft into a new ceramics studio. However, in its current incarnation metal shelving functions to display her hand-thrown vessels at various stages of production next to a conveniently placed pottery wheel that capitalizes on the unique scenery.
Described by Coe as the perfect “little spot to read or take a break,” the intimate landing offers unparalleled views into the valley of Piemonte. Even Tessa the cat (one of seven who call the property home) finds time to bask in the afternoon sun.
When not conceiving the next smart home system, 3d-printing housing or combining AI with gym equipment, San Francisco-based designer Yves Béhar (founder of fuseproject) keeps the creative spark alive in his home office. “While it’s not a separate room,” he says, “the work nook helps me focus on sketching and thinking about projects and ideas, and connect with my team.” Béhar deliberately keeps “beautiful memories and design references” close – such as Italian artist and designer Bruno Munari’s 1958 table light and a cobalt blue edition of Charles and Ray Eames’ iconic fibreglass chair
Since 2016, award-winning architect Michel Rojkind (principal of his name-sake studio Rojkind Arquitectos) has called the storied Balmori Building home. Originally built in 1922, this landmark of Mexico City’s vibrant Roma neighbourhood was severely damaged during an earthquake in 1985 and set to be demolished, before a group of artists intervened. Over 120 artist updated the dilapidated complex and converted the first floor into a museum. Years later, another set of renovations would divide the almost 100-year-old building into commercial, office and residential spaces.
Fitting for a complex deeply interwoven with the artistic legacy of the city, much of the architect’s home is furnished with works by leading Mexican creatives. In the dining room, a charming light fixture by designer Andros Díaz hangs above a dining table and Evo chairs by award-winning Hector Esrawe. “I have a lot of furniture by Hector Esrawe, who is my best friend,” he says, “and one of my favourite piece by him is his OCD table. I love organizing my things around the different plates! It makes me smile.” A selection of Esrawe’s Cura vessels are also prominently displayed on the wooden credenza.
Immediately off the dining room, the intimate living area is a particular favourite of Rojkind’s. “My neighbour, colleague and friend Lucio Muniain had done one in his house,” he says of the soaring custom bookshelf. “When I saw his design, I asked him for the name of the carpenter who made it so I could have the exact same piece.” However, Rojkind made one small adjustment: a sliding metal stair offering quick access to the growing library. Complementing the shelving system, additional pieces by Esrawe fill the space. “I’m his second showroom,” Rojkind laughs.
In the second-floor master bedroom, two French doors open to a shallow Juliette balcony providing views in the courtyard below while allowing ample natural light to trickle in. Completing the minimal tableau, three photographs of an Icelandic sunset by Katherina Acevedo float above a bed, unsurprisingly, by Esrawe.