What gives a home its heart? A room where people gather, a story buried deep inside its walls, a famous resident long since departed, the landscape in which it resides? Or perhaps a single object...
We've known hotelier Andrea Falkner-Campi for a number of years now, through her portfolio of stylish homes in the Italian region of Umbria. We have always admired the joy she brings to her interiors, and the vibrant colors and playful objects she places in them. But, when we saw her new apartment, Il Cortile in the ancient Perugian town of Spello, we discovered something new about how she brings heart to her homes.
On the wall of the living room hangs an image of a young woman in a teal gown. In fact, it dominates the space. When we asked Andrea about it, she explained that it's by artist Valeria Patrizi, whose work she discovered in a gallery on Salina, one of the Aeolian Islands north of Sicily. That day, she bought a painting for her own home, and when it came time to decorate Il Cortile, she went to Rome to meet Valeria at her studio.
"She had some different paintings, and I chose this one because it's so serene and beautiful," she remembers, "and you see it immediately when you enter the apartment. It's a nice welcome, I think."
But there's more to it than that – as she goes on to explain. "When I start to think about decoration and furniture, I always start with a painting. In the case of Il Cortile, I knew that I wanted a painting with green colors in it because I wanted to make a statement about Umbria, which is called the green heart of Italy."
And suddenly everything makes sense. The painting, the accent wall, the kitchen and even the bedding pick up the same color, bringing the space together in a rich, joyous tribute to the view from the window.
The artist Valeria Patrizi is a student of anatomy so it's not surprising that most of her work depicts the female form. She also studied fine art and restoration, and her large tapestry-like canvases are stained with materials like coffee, tea and bitumen, suggesting they come from another time entirely.
"I like the natural colors she uses for her paintings," says Andrea, "and all her paintings are painted on canvas, which I really like so much. This is also the reason why I would never frame any painting of hers because it would lose the charm and chic of her work."
Revisiting Andrea's other homes, you start to understand them better with this artistic starting point in mind. Take Spello Garden Villa (above). "I bought the painting in the living room in Bangkok," she explains, "and I started to build the kitchen and living space area around it."
The painting is by Jean-Michel Aucler, a photographer turned painter who splits his time between Paris and world travels. He is heavily influenced by Asian textiles, particularly batik. Andrea chose grey instead of white walls to emphasize the colors in the painting, and selected textiles to go with them. Explore the house, and you find the same hues echoed again and again.
For Spello Casetta (above), Andrea bought two paintings from Gitte Brandt, a self-taught painter based in Nyhavn, Copenhagen. 'La Girafe' and 'Le Léopard' served as the starting points for the Casetta. Visit Apartment Limone (below) and Barbanera Villa, and you'll notice that art anchors each of those spaces as well. "It’s always a painting which inspires me!" Andrea admits.
As Oscar Wilde famously wrote, "Life imitates art far more than art imitates life." In the case of the girl on the wall of Il Cortile and the other paintings in Andrea's homes, perhaps it's a little of both.
To book a stay at one of Andrea Falkner-Campi's art-inspired homes, start here.