Rebecca Sicardi on the art of intuitive design

The art therapist’s calming designs are a masterclass in how to use natural colours and textures

rebecca sicardi
Rachael Smith

London interior decorator Rebecca Sicardi is a relatively new name in the industry – she founded her studio in 2017 – but her work already exudes a serene sophistication. Her passion for modernist interiors was ignited as an A-Level student when she first glimpsed an image of Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye.

What’s her background?

Studying History of Modern Art at Manchester University, she first worked as an art therapist. ‘I didn’t consider becoming an interior designer until I decorated my own home, but I enjoyed the process so much that I started researching it,’ she explains. ‘I was fortunate that at around the same time, a friend had bought a property that he wanted to develop and asked me to get involved.’ That project gave Sicardi her break. Now, her art therapy background is key to her designs. ‘Our homes affect us emotionally, so it’s reflected in the importance of creating something that serves the client’s wellbeing,’ she says.

rebecca sicardi
East London Loft, Rebecca Sicardi’s own duplex apartment in Hackney
Rachael Smith

What’s her style?

Although she confesses to being ‘a hoarder by nature’, Sicardi prioritises simplicity in her work, which focuses on restful, earthy neutrals and light-filled, airy spaces. ‘Comfort is very important to me, too, and there needs to be a warmth to an interior,’ she adds. ‘If I’m using a palette of stripped-back finishes, I like to balance it with vintage or antique pieces.’

Her taste in the latter is broad, and she finds there’s a romance in contrast. ‘I love putting things together that shouldn’t work but do, such as design classics with weird pieces of studio pottery,’ she says. Sicardi’s also strongly influenced by Sir Terence Conran’s take on design: ‘His spaces are unfussy and unpretentious; they feel very achievable and there’s an effortlessness to them.’

rebecca sicardi
The main bedroom of Sicardi’s Primrose Hill project
Rachael Smith

What are her recent projects?

She has just finished the renovation of a Georgian home in Clapton. Having taken it on while six months pregnant with twins, she jokes that she has ended up creating ‘a womb’. ‘I started by asking the client how she wanted to feel in her home,’ Sicardi explains, ‘and the idea of a sanctuary kept coming up; somewhere the family could retreat to each day after their hectic work schedules.’

The client’s visual references featured sculptural elements, which were translated into a fireplace and kitchen island in cast concrete.The palette of organic materials – wood, stone, rattan – reflects what Sicardi is naturally drawn to. ‘Texture and materiality are fundamental to my designs.’

rebecca sicardi
The serene kitchen at Clapton Villa
Rachael Smith

What is she working on now?

A farmhouse and barn project in Bruton, Somerset, and offices in Euston for snack-maker Proper. ‘We’re focusing on the breakout spaces, trying to bring in elements that will have a positive impact on staff wellbeing,’ she explains. ‘We worked alongside behavioural scientists – I’ve always been interested in psychology, so bringing that together with design was fascinating. I’m a sensitive person, and because of that I pick up on the style that the client wants to create. It’s a very intuitive process.’


EXPERT ADVICE

Rebecca Sicardi on how to create an understated, authentic home

1 Always colour test thoroughly. Every time I think I’ve found the perfect off-white, I’ll sample it on my next project. Just because something looks good in the pages of a magazine doesn’t mean it will look right in your own home.

2 Texture and materiality are crucial if you’re not using much pattern or colour, otherwise everything becomes flat and uninteresting. I’m drawn to natural materials for the majority of a space, because they bring subtle colour as well as warmth. But if something doesn’t feel good to the touch, I find it hard to use.

3 A pared-back palette is a blank canvas – it’s easy to add layers and textures on top. Don’t be afraid to move pieces around until you find an interesting vignette. It’s amazing how much of a difference it can make to the overall aesthetic when everything is paired with its perfect partner.

4 Your choice of artworks should tell the story of who you are. Don’t worry about creating a theme or that things won’t go together. I’m quite sentimental, and I love how art can be displayed to bring back memories. rebeccasicardi.com

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