Design Notes Archive

Place Settings

Place Settings

If you’re a collector of design content like we are, summer’s long lazy days offer an opportunity to pore through your archives and get lost in a sea of inspiration. Sitting down with a stack of old books and magazines (and binders of tear sheets for those type-a organisers among us) can open up a world of discovery that still feels as fresh today as it did when the pages were first printed. 


Fifteen years ago, in the summer of 2004, photographs of Carlos Souza’s Brazilian retreat graced the pages of Vogue’s American edition. Snapped by the late photographer Fernando Benoechea, the home is an idyllic refuge. As Valentino’s brand ambassador, Souza is known as a bon vivant who crisscrosses the globe, traveling from one fashion capital to the next (his favourites captured in the booked #Carlos’s Places). Tucked in the lush Nova Friburgo region, two hours outside of Rio de Janeiro, this rustic farmhouse serves as a place to unwind and is filled with souvenirs from his travels – Moroccan rugs, Swiss antiques, textiles from Bali. Souza collaborated on the interior with designer Pedro Espírito Santo and the kitchen demonstrates the power of uniting globally diverse elements – and the impact hanging plates can have on a room. These are Iznik plates Souza scooped up at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, coupled with Portuguese tiles from Viúva Lamego surrounding the fireplace, and from England, Colefax and Fowler’s check fabric curtaining the cabinets. It’s as timeless today as it was then – even if he has since painted the walls a cheery shade of sunflower yellow.

Being summer, Greece seems to be on everyone’s radar so pulling John Stefanidis’ 2010 book, An Island Sanctuary: A House in Greece, off the shelf was inevitable. Its pages are an homage to the 16th century farmhouse he shared with the late artist, Teddy Millington-Drake, another bon viveur whose life was filled with society and charm but whose haven was actually found in much more of a rustic setting on the island of Patmos. Also like Souza’s, the home is filled with furnishings from their travels giving it a wonderfully collected feel. Millington-Drake was primarily known for his realist watercolors but he designed a series of enameled porcelain plates that were far more modernist and geometric. (The Victoria & Albert Museum has several in its collection.) Like a great tile splash back, a plate rack filled with a graphic collection like this can have a massive impact on a room. Try plates from Darkroom in London or ceramist Nicholas Newcomb's DT collection for similar. In both homes, simple terra-cotta floors balance the eye-catching display.

Photographs: © Fernando Benoechea/Conde Nast; Fritz von der Schulenberg/The Interior Archive