Interior Design

Once Your Home Goes Italian, It Won't Ever Go Back

April  8, 2016

You only have to take one look at a Bialetti Moka Pot (or a Maserati, for that matter), to understand why Italian design is so sought after and timeless: suggestive curves and playful angles give it more personality than some people have, and there's a technical simplicity—the kind of thing we like to call "genius" around here.

An Italian-made picnic knife, from Berti. Photo by James Ransom

In the home, where the emotional impact and functionality of a design are perhaps most deeply felt, this kind of one-two punch is highly appreciated. And Italians, of course, excel just as much at interior design as they do coffee and cars. In keeping, we wanted to pause and celebrate this with 15 of our favorite places to shop for Italian home designs.

Textiles: Missoni Home

Photo by Missoni

Of course there are other Italian textiles in the world, but when you get lost in Missoni's offerings of rugs, blankets, pillow shams, and the like—you realize they might not matter.

Tabletop: Il Buco Vita

Photo by Il Buco Vita

A one-room shop above Il Buco's flagship location in New York City, this little design mecca boasts original art in addition to all manner of Italian tabletop winners: Umbrian ceramics, linens, baskets, and lots of dreamy glassware.

Tiles: Bisazza

Photo by Bisazza

Founded in 1956 in Vicenza, Bisazza is known for their colorful glass tiles, which are manufactured in very old, traditional techniques. They aren't cheap, but you could install a backsplash or small kitchen floor for big impact.

Kitchen Gadgets: Alessi

Photo by Michael Graves for Alessi

For kitchen helpers so carefree in disposition that you might forget they're tools at all (like these excellent Michael Graves kitchen timers), hit up Alessi, a nearly century-old haven for haven for quality whimsy.

Antiques: 1stDibs

An Antonio Citterio sofa. Photo by 1stDibs

With some 40,000 Italian furnishings, from Fornasetti table lamps to a Fidele Papagne light fixture cum mobile, it's hard to beat 1stDibs' one stop shop appeal—and since they share the auction houses each piece is from, you might just find a new local pit stop.

Bedding: SFERRA

Photo by SFERRA

Made from 100% Egyptian cotton that's woven in Italy (just as it has been for 125 years, though they started out making cuffs and collars), Sferra's bedding is synonymous with luxury.

Bath Fixtures: Boffi

Photo by Boffi

If you've ever strode past Boffi's showroom in Soho, you know envy: pristine kitchen systems in minimal lines converge with spare, elegant sitting rooms in endless natural light. But bathroom offerings, actually, are what they're best known for: Who else but Italians could make even a toilet attractive?

Bath Linens: Frette

Photo by Frette

Besides being sought after for how long they last, Frette's plush (but not too plush) cotton terry bath towels and sheets are offered by hotels like the Ritz, the Carlyle, and the Peninsula.

Sofas & Chairs: Cassina

Photo by Cassina

With exclusive production rights to designs by such giants as Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright (and so many other mythic architects), not every chair or sofa made by Cassina has an Italian designer behind it. But the heart of the company, in designs from Gio Ponti, Paolo Deganello, and the like, harkens back to their founding in 1927 Milan.

Lights: Artemide

Photo by Design Within Reach

With a philosophy of creating "light as a companion to people," Artemide is a decorated Milan-based design house that specializes in collaborations with architects and designers (think Sit Norman Foster, Ettore Sottsass, Zaha Hadid).

Plastic Furniture: Kartell

Photo by Design Within Reach

Despite it not sounding sexy at all, Italian designers are known for their wizardry with plastics—and Kartell is where that excellence is channeled into home furnishings. Take their Louis Ghost Chair by Philippe Starck, a postmodern interpretation of the classic Louis XVI armchair: It's a little bit audacious, cast in a clear plastic called "injection-molded polycarbonate," but right at home in a room of old things.

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Amanda Sims

Written by: Amanda Sims

Professional trespasser.