Handcrafted with Heart
Casa Bonita is the home of an artist who is passionate about beauty. Cast away on Brazil's Bahian coast, it's a space to disappear into, a place to savor slowly, taking in the astonishing array of playfully colored and elegantly crafted design pieces on display. When we discovered that almost everything in Casa Bonita was handmade by its owner, ceramicist Flavia Del Pra, we had to find out more.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Flavia Del Pra: "I’m a Brazilian ceramicist who loves to mix color and patterns in my handmade pieces! I studied advertising and worked a few years in a Brazilian agency before I had this urge to work with something more artisanal. So I moved to London to study arts and crafts. When I was there, I felt in love with ceramics and established a studio, and because of my Portuguese cultural heritage I started working with handmade tiles. It became a true passion! My family is a mix of Portuguese, American, Austrian, and Italian... but I have a very strong bond with my beloved Brazil."
It's very hard not to fall in love with Casa Bonita. What was your inspiration for it?
FDP: "I did a sabbatical year a while ago and had the dream of one day building a summer house that would be a beautiful memento of all the good places I’ve been, translated to Bahia style! The house was built from zero. When I found the land in this particular stunning area of Bahia, I immediately started drawing what the house would be: lovely and cozy, like Bahia itself! In this region, the weather is amazing. Most of the year, it's warm and sunny, so I wanted the house to be open wide to a big patio, with tropical plants and a swimming pool."
Which objects in the home did you create? If you didn't create them yourself, where did you find them?
FDP: "I designed the cement tile floor, all the table lamps, the stools, the beds, the big sofa, the trays, the dining table, the ceiling lamps, the wall sconces, the vases, the plates and bowls in the kitchen, the tiles for the bathroom and for all the sinks, the sun loungers, the cushions, the hangers, the rugs in both bedrooms, the mirrors and the hardware of the bathrooms and kitchen. All designed by me and most of them hand-produced by me!
"The things I did not produce by hand (the hardware and wood furniture), I sourced craftmakers around the village of Trancoso to produce my designs. It was an amazing adventure, and in the end I have not only a beautiful house that I treasure, but also good friends that came with this process. And to complete it all, I added some precious things I’ve collected—a terracotta mermaid from Greece, some amazing cushions made with textiles brought from India, my mother’s old silver sugar bowl…"
The cement tile floors are amazing. Where did that idea come from?
FDP: "I always loved the Spanish floors of Barcelona and Valencia and was interested in having something similar in the house because they leave the area fresh and are so easy and simple to clean. Not to mention the color effect! So, I designed a new floor made of two shapes: circular with a 30cm diameter, and a star-like shape, and I had the luck to find a very good manufacturer here in Brazil to produce them! The house was the launching of this new product that's now on sale here."
The delightful fish and mermaid theme on the bathroom tiles that's picked up in the dining ceramics... what is the story there?
FDP: "I produce all my pieces by hand. When I found the land and started the construction, we were in the pandemic, and I had the chance to live in Bahia for almost one year, during the lockdown. My studio is in São Paulo, but since I was in Bahia, I turned an old fisherman’s house into a very simple but light-filled ceramics studio.
"While I was there, I had the idea of producing ceramic tiles with the same feel as Portuguese or Dutch styles, but with everyday Brazilian motifs: the sunscreen and the beach chair, a tambourine, palm trees and papayas, and even a scene with clothes drying on the line. It became a special thing in the house. Everybody loved them, so I decided to produce a table set with plates and bowls in the same mood. It's very beautiful!"
The kitchen is rather unexpected. Can you tell us how you came up with that design?
FDP: "Casa Bonita is not a big house, so I wanted a compact space that was practical and beautiful, so I designed the kitchen cooking space to open into the living room. You can cook while you drink and chat with your family and friends, but behind it there is another kitchen and pantry. So all the cleaning can be behind doors!"
Having an open-air shower filled with plants seems such a natural thing to do. Why don't we all do it?
FDP: "I totally agree! It was the right thing to do because the light and fresh air come directly from the skies! And you don’t have to worry about watering the plants, the rain does it! But I 'closed' the open area in the ceiling with a thin net, so insects cannot come inside the bathroom."
Your home is magical, and it's hard to imagine ever wanting to leave it. But when you do, where do you go—to eat, to wander, and to play?
FDP: "The house is inside a tranquil private community so within walking distance you can go to two delicious restaurants: Bistrô do Osvaldo for seafood and Japa for Japanese food. Both amazing! Also, there is a very small and traditional pizza place, Pizza da Lady, perfect for dining with kids.
"And the most amazing beach is five minutes' walk from the house! There you can walk and walk and walk: it's my favorite thing to do! If you walk 4km to your left, you will reach a beautiful river, and most of the time there is nobody around so the ocean, the white sand and the tree shadows are only for you. If you walk around 2.5 hours to your right, you will reach a stunning village called Caraiva, a must-see!
"Also inside the complex, there is a tennis court, a volleyball beach court, and a football field. During the high season, there is always a match at sunset, and everybody is invited to join! There is also a small forest with little paths you can walk, leading to a pond with stand-up paddles. There's a club with two different swimming pools and a day bar for drinks. If you are looking for more trendy restaurants and shops, you can drive around 30 minutes to stylish Trancoso. Plenty to do!"
To explore the magical world of Flavia Del Pra, book a stay at Casa Bonita here.