Developers marketing to international buyers have caught on to the growing trend towards decorating interiors with a combination of artefacts and styles from around the world, a trend driven by our increasingly globalised society and the ever-expanding legion of expats and buyers of second homes.
Newcourt Residential, the developer of newly built Alderbrook House in Weybridge, near London, installed a seven-metre-long hand-blown chandelier from Paris in the stairwell, a set of bathroom cabinets and sofas from Portugal, and a dining table from Texas. The decor is a combination of New York apartment-style layering of wallpaper, mirrors and lights, and traditional English country house softness, says Newcourt Residential’s lead interior designer, Lisa Mosca.
“As an interior designer, you are constantly travelling to different countries to ensure you are up to date with the latest trends, and this is especially the case when you are dressing homes that international buyers could be interested in,” says Mosca. Interior designers say overseas clients often ask for international pieces to be included in designs they commission.
Savills are currently marketing Villa Oro in Marbella, Spain, a six-bedroom house built around furnishings sourced from Asia and elsewhere, and bespoke pieces made specially by local craftsmen. These include a bathtub hand-carved from a huge river stone found near Xiamen, Fujian Province, and the front door and garden gazebos made in Indonesia. Outdoor koi ponds were inspired by gardens in Japan and create a Zen-like atmosphere.
Six-bedroom contemporary villa Can Benirrás in Ibiza, currently on the market with Aylesford, also has an Asian design theme. The pool tiles, which go a deep green when the sun shines, come fromBali,and so do seating and sculptures made from tree roots. The Indonesian wooden pieces were partly chosen to add warmth to the modern white house. Many of the colourful fabrics, also chosen for decorative warmth, and furnishings come from Portugal. In the master bedroom, the cupboard’s antique green doors were unearthed by the owners in a Portugueseantiquesshop. They had them shipped to Ibiza and cut to size by a carpenter. The bedroom’s small courtyard garden, designed to draw in daylight, has an olive tree brought over from the Spanish mainland.
Half a world away in California, Sotheby’s Realty is representing a Sonoma ranch built in the style of an Austrian country villa and filled with fixtures and furnishings from the alpine state and many other countries. The club room in the family house, near Napa, is filled with 19th-century Austrian and English furniture. The Austrian oak parquet floor is 300 years old. An Austrian wood carving hangs above a fireplace in the living room. The entrance pavers come from a French monastery, the entrance windows are modelled on the Austrian art nouveau style and the glass entry canopy recalls that of the Monte Carlo Casino. There is also a Japanese garden of bonsai trees.
Joe Burns, managing director ofLondon basedarchitectural and design firm Oliver Burns, says, “Often, the choice of furnishings is inspired by a client’s cultural background and as a result we have sourced a number of pieces from a diverse range of countries, including Japan,Chinaand the Ottoman Empire, as well as across Europe. These items range from 15th- and 16th-century religious artefacts, and Persian and Indian rugs dating back to the 1700s, through to art deco glass fittings by French company Sabino Glass.”
Sometimes it is the designers themselves who want to mix and match the world’s arts and crafts within a singlehome,or even a single room. For example, Dara Huang, the founder of London-based Design Haus Liberty, will group Indian antiques with African stools in a living room or study for subtle impact. “Sourcing furniture and other artefacts worldwide allows mixing different styles that ordinarily would not be possible to achieve,” says Huang. “I love to create a story behind a project that I believe can only evolve from mixing these one-off genuine items with contemporary pieces, adding a whole different dimension and distinctive character toa space.”
(Text by Richard Warren)