I don’t go by rules, I go by instinct in everything I do,” says Marta Ferri, whose design philosophy is evident throughout her effortlessly elegant palazzo that combines a unique mix of styles to great effect. Tucked away in a leafy residential quarter in the heart of Milan’s old town, the property was once the studio of well-known 19th century Italian painter, Giuseppe Bossi.
Ferri in a dress from her own collection. The ‘Silverware studies designs’ artwork on the wall surrounds an antique oeil de sorcière round mirror.
Raised between Milan and New York by creative parents, Ferri learned at an early age the dynamic synergy between design and fashion. Having lived in many homes across the globe, she explains that in each of them, “I created diverse environments that made me feel at ease and allowed me creative freedom. Interiors have always been a great passion of mine, so much so that I have moved homes at times just to redecorate from scratch.” Honing the gift of her father, famous fashion photographer Fabrizio Ferri’s quick and sharp eye, and a love of creating the perfect atmosphere inherited from her interior decorator mother, Ferri developed her chic aesthetic with a twist of whimsy.
A wicker chaise longue from Ferri’s husband’s family home in Sardinia
Ferri, a young wife and a mother of two children, is a versatile Milanese designer with impeccable taste. Creativity and a love for fabrics are apparent in her haute couture and capsule collections for iconic furniture brands. She has a penchant for turning furnishing fabrics into cocktail dresses. Her style doesn’t follow trends, it reinterprets them by allowing the textures and colours she chooses to be an inspiration.
Her creations are recognisable for their timeless lines and playful fabrics. “Design comes as a natural instinct and fabrics in general are my obsession, especially upholstery textiles, which I use to create my dresses,” claims Ferri. Thus, the foray into textile designing for furniture brands such as Molteni&C came as the natural step. “What I like about design is the creative process and the craftsmanship that transforms a fabric into a new item of clothing to wear or breathes life into furniture,” elaborates Ferri.
The dining room features a bespoke ceiling fresco by PICTA LAB along with chairs and a table from the 1950s
“I wanted it to feel personal and not dictated by trends,” says Ferri as she walks through her airy home in Milan’s historical centre, bursting with an eclectic mix of antique pieces, vintage textiles and fabulous spring blooms. Her approach towards interior design echoes her instinct for mixing personal references and artistic influences into the clothes. The house is characterised by fine bones: large windows, high ceilings and aged wood floors, true to their period-building status.
However, it’s the decor that makes it truly exceptional. Instead of sticking rigidly to one aesthetic, she combines rustic furniture with antiques and contemporary classics. The result is a diverse mix that, because the palazzo’s palette is muted and simple, sits together particularly well. “Every piece of furniture is here because I like it – every piece has a story,” says Ferri. The objects and furniture fondly collected over the years add personal charm. Some pieces are from her time in New York, others from her husband’s ancestral house in Sardinia, all mixed with vintage pieces from her grandmother’s home in Genova.
Molteni&C Paul sofa designed by Vincent Van Duysen, textile fabric by Ferri and painting by Sofia Cacciapaglia
The considerable living room punctuated with seven large windows – which used to be the study of the Italian neoclassic sculptor Antonio Canova – has been left in its original proportions. In fact, it was this room that led Ferri and her husband to decorate this space themselves, since every architect they consulted wanted them to divide this grand room. A central feature of the living room is her mother’s antique stone fireplace from her old house, which was salvaged and shifted here. Ferri laughingly recalls how difficult it was to move it in one piece.
Meanwhile, the desk in her study belonged to her husband when he was at school, and the accompanying chair is upholstered in fabric from Ferri’s first ready-to-wear collection. Fornasetti table lamps, a wedding present to her parents, illuminate her office and stand on a 1930s store cabinet, across from a leather chaise longue taken from her father’s photography studio. Her favourite space, however, is the kitchen: “It feels like being in the countryside, as it opens into a lush garden, and is an interactive space for family and friends.”
Marta Ferri in her living room amidst her vast collection of design books. She stands beside a Gio Ponti armchair by Molteni&C upholstered in fabric she designed herself.
The designer’s skill in sourcing rare and vintage fabrics from all over Italy is obvious throughout the space, from the accessories to the linens. Complementing the textiles are floral still-life oil paintings by Austrian artist Joseph Nigg that belonged to Ferri’s grandmother. Yet, the most fascinating element is the wood flooring throughout the house. “We wanted to find a floor that had already been lived on,” explains Ferri. They sourced a floor that belonged to an Indian school from the 1930s, a beautiful teak wood floor engraved with little letters and designs, reminiscent of all the children who used to play on the floors. “These etchings made the house alive from the very moment the floors were installed,” states Ferri. Clearly, this is one Milanese address worth inheriting. Martaferri.com