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Q&A with Martina Mondadori,
  • Founder of Cabana Magazine
  • April 05, 21

    How has your Milan upbringing shaped you and your eye for design?

    Milan is a very design-driven city. Even when you’re not aware of it because you’re a little girl going to school, design is everywhere. Gio Ponti or [Piero] Portaluppi buildings, [Ignazio] Gardella and [Luigi] Caccia Dominioni entry halls…and then all the antique Churches and Palazzi—your eye is trained just by walking on the streets and wandering around town.

    What inspired you to start Cabana Magazine? How has the publication evolved since you first started it back in 2014? 

    It actually started as a nostalgia feeling for my home country, Italy, when I first moved to London in 2013. I suddenly started looking back at my childhood home with different eyes, or longing for promenades in small Italian towns like Siena or Lecce. Meanwhile, discovering the beauty of my adoptive country, England, with its immensely rich history and respect for the past and classical architecture. I began doing mood boards, mixing English stately homes and Mongiardino interiors, and the Cabana seed was born. The biggest achievement for me in this 7-year journey has been developing the e-commerce side of the business, Casa Cabana, offering tableware in the style of the magazine.  

    Where does your passion for homeware come from? 

    Definitely from both of my parents. They were obsessive about their homes (they lived separately since I was 1 year old) in 2 very different ways: My mum was all about preserving the work of her decorator and best friend Renzo Mongiardino. My father, instead, had a very eclectic approach to his house and collected many different artifacts over the years. With my mum, it was about the atmosphere. With my dad, it was about the objects.

    We’re excited about your Spring 2021 Collection of homeware. Please tell us what the design process was like this season. What was the inspiration behind some of the pieces?

    The inspiration came via armchair traveling during the first lockdown in Spring of 2020. Like everyone else, I was at home and had much more time to look at all my books. One of the patterns for the table linens was inspired by a Japanese kimono. Another one by a Moroccan tile. The plates and ceramics were inspired by a plate that I remembered from my childhood memories, sitting at my grandmother’s breakfast table near Venice, Italy. I then spent most of the summer and the fall visiting all the artisans or chatting to them via Zoom, and the result is this Artigiana Collection which for me is an ode to craftsmanship.

    Many of us are at home and working remotely during these times. What are your tips for customers who want to personalize their homes and workspaces through décor?

    I think the home now plays a central role in everyone’s life and therefore it’s a natural instinct to rethink spaces or décor. I believe that sometimes just adding or changing the cushions on a sofa or purchasing a great collection of ceramics to display on a side table or credenza can make a room feel different. And then, as I always say, dressing your table for lunch or supper is our own way of day-to-day decoration. And changing a tablecloth is much cheaper and easy than changing a wall fabric!

    What’s your go-to decor style?

    Warm colors, layering, and a mix of high and low. 

    Of the homeware pieces that we’re featuring, which is your favorite? 

    The Dahlia tablecloth and the pink and saffron blossom plates!

    What’s something decor-related you can’t wait to do once the pandemic ends?

    I can’t wait to visit Romania and discover the incredible craftsmanship there.