Andrew Trotter, the designer behind a number of stunning Italian homes – including the serenely simple Puglinese farmhouse, Masseria Moroseta, which embraces traditional techniques and modern proportions in equal measure – talks to us about creating spaces that feel like home and the future of indoor living in the era of a new pandemic.
What constitutes a great space?
Often great spaces are not very homely and have a “wow factor” simply because of their size or grandeur. For me, there are many different things at play. A great space comes from being very photogenic; that “wow” feeling you when you walk into a space, to merely feeling comfortable. A great space is one that feels homely: simplicity, patina on the walls, furniture that feels lived in. It’s more about the comfiness of it all, not about show.
What kind of spaces are you attracted to?
I love beautifully minimalist spaces like the Neuendorf House by John Pawson and Claudio Silvestrin, but I’m not sure I could live there full time. I visited Luis Barragán’s house in Mexico earlier this year. Despite its high ceilings and large, open spaces, it feels homely thanks to the choice of textiles and the use of wood and colour. It is simple yet full of character – and interesting objects add to the appeal. Spaces that combine the old with the new – ones filled knick-knacks and with piles of magazines and books – make a space. And a comfortable sofa is key.
What’s the most important factor to consider when creating spaces?
When I design spaces, I want people to feel like they want to stay there all the time, to spend time there. That, to me, is the essence of a great room.
We talk a lot about simplicity and minimalism, often interchanging the two. What’s the difference?
They are similar in some ways, but not in others. Minimalism to me is something that is very pure: smooth, flat walls; clean, hidden lightning; stark and strict aesthetics. Simplicity is more about using patinas – in the plaster, on the walls – and the old. In essence, simplicity is minimalism with a bit more love and warmth.
Has your practice changed with the new world we find ourselves in? What becomes more or less important?
Funnily enough, the coronavirus hasn’t affected our work greatly. We are being commissioned for more and more projects all the time and have taken on around eight assignments this year. Boutique hotels and holiday homes, as well as a few private projects. We are experiencing rising interest in out-of-city escapes, too, with individuals wanting to set up a holiday home a few hours’ drive from where they live.
Is the pandemic a call to rethink the way we live and create our spaces?
I think people are more aware of personal space. In Spain, where I live, people didn’t care much about homes prior to the pandemic, and were always eating out in restaurants and hardly ever entertaining at home. We are now forced to spend more time at home – alone, too. Our homes have become spaces to live in and enjoy rather than just vessel for sleep. We see this changing across the world. As well as an increased interest in interior design.
Prior to the pandemic, the new luxury was considered to be time and the feeling of being at home. Do you think the pandemic is changing our perception of luxury now that we have more time and are spending much of it at home?
My Openhouse project came from this [Trotter is cofounder and publisher of Openhouse Magazine, a global forum for creatives to open their private spaces to the public for cultural events. –ed.]. In the first few years of Instagram, everyone felt more connected with their telephone than with each other. By opening our house to the public, showcasing artworks and photography and gathering to enjoy food and conversation, we connected with individuals on another level. We are currently unable to connect in the same way during the pandemic, but we still have this idea of where our food comes from, we are more selective about the furniture we buy, choosing well and more carefully because we understand that the world is not going to be here forever.
We all strive for human connection in one shape or another. How do you see this developing in the time of the pandemic and what implications does it have on the way we shape our homes?
Most of the places I design are in Italy, Greece, Australia and the US – and are very open to the air. Bedrooms with outdoor patios, places to sit and relax, arrangements that facilitate togetherness, but also provide options to retreat alone. Those who have previously dreamed of owning holiday home are making good on that right now, fulfilling their desire for a second home outside of the city, to work from, to live in, to entertain in. We are also seeing a change in the way hotels are created, with a minimum of bedrooms. People don’t want big anymore; they want to be looked after. Areas that were previously very communal are now being made more intimate with separate spaces to connect in and retreat to.
What can we learn from the world today?
I think to live frugally. More than that, I think we will see that we are really going to become mindful of what we spend our money on, of the time we spend doing things and what, in fact, we choose to do with it. I think we will see much more care and consideration being spent on these things, make sure it’s exactly right.