It’s hard to imagine someone like Paola Navone relaxing. An architect, art director, trendsetter and much more, the Italian is evidently something of a workaholic. A leading light of the interiors scene for more than 40 years, Paola is the go-to designer for a long list of major international brands, including Baxter, Gervasoni and Poliform. She’s even created a range of tableware for Habitat. When she does finally stop, Paola heads to the little-known Greek island of Serifos and her simple yet stunning summer house.
‘From the moment I step onto the boat that takes me from Piraeus to the Cyclades [the small group of islands where Serifos is found] I turn off completely,’ she says. ‘I surrender myself to total enjoyment, and physical and mental relaxation. I love Serifos – it’s a magical, beautiful and wild place. It really lets you experience the quiet simplicity of island life.’
The rugged stone house, designed by Greek architect Yorgos Zaphiriou, is reminiscent of the traditional Hellenic island architecture. It is constructed from a number of staggered cube-shaped structures, which create a series of secluded open terraces. ‘I didn’t change a thing and was able to make it completely liveable in seven days, with just a few essential items: some prototypes of furniture that I designed myself, a wooden bench, mattresses and a few chairs,’ Paola recalls.
The designer’s creativity is apparent throughout the house. Most of the rooms feature trompe l’oeil ‘rugs’ that are painted onto the cement floors – an idea inspired by the Greeks’ devotion to whitewash. Graphic and poetic, they’re a simple yet effective way of decorating a pared-back space. ‘I love using objects in unexpected ways – by painting and reassembling them, for instance. It makes them unique to the place,’ says Paola. ‘This is my private world and I feel completely at ease here. It’s such a luxury to have some time to myself.’ paolanavone.it
WHY WE LOVE IT...
Paola Navone’s island escape first ran in ELLE Decoration in August 2010, and the understated design of its white-walled interiors feel as fresh today as it did back then. We’re continually intrigued by the private sanctuaries of the world’s most talented designers, and the serene Serifos home of this Italian polymath is no exception.