From here, she works on her exhibitions and innovative, genre-crossing projects across art, collectable design and fashion. As the driving force behind luxury retailer Luisaviaroma’s home department, she also actively supports young talent and creative experimentation through collections produced in collabora- tion with small artisanal and independent studios.
Leaving behind Italy to live in Provence with her boyfriend of seventeen years, Valentina’s new base is a quintessential Grasse country house that’s been sympathetically transformed into a modern home. The couple has used the move to immerse themselves in nature: “The first thing we did when we arrived was to set up a vegetable garden and a fire pit that we light for spiritual rituals or when we invite friends over,” Valentina says. Despite the radical departure from fast-paced city life, making the change was easy and the house is always open to friends, with dinners that “always end in passionate discussions about the great themes of life.”
AN ARTISTIC RETREAT
This year, Valentina will invite a series of artist friends, directors, designers, philosophers and scientists to her home for artistic residencies. To Valentina, her home isn’t just her personal sanctuary, it is also a place of study and experimentation: “I like to immerse myself in reading, to spark my imagination or generate ideas that I can transform into themes for my exhibi- tions,” she explains, “but the house is also a regenerative place for me. Incense and candles are always burning.”
“There is no compelling reason behind the objects I decorate my home with. I choose them simply because I love them,”
One of the things Valentina has brought with her from her previous home is her temple. Shaped as a small altar, it is composed of seven characters, each embodying a value dear to her. “Every morning I make small offerings to them, such as water and flowers,” she says. Themed around Indian traditions and a daily reminder to stay grounded, the altar is directly connected to the time Valentina spent in Mumbai in her early twenties.
Her home is defined by organic shapes and a simple design that marries elements of nature with her nose for good design. The neutral-hued sitting room – the heart of the house – has a relaxing and cosy vibe where natural textures and heirloom pieces stand alongside sleek objects. “Following the Spanish artist César Manrique’s philosophy, I’m looking for harmony between art and nature,” Valentina explains. The concept of Manrique’s nature-art/art-nature houses in Lanzarote fascinates her: “They most reflect my way of seeing the house.”
“Following the Spanish artist César Manrique’s philosophy, I’m looking for harmony between art and nature.”
Here, living is simple. Valentina’s days start with a mug of coffee and an offering to her temple before the practicalities of life in a temperate climate take over; the garden needs to be watered and the harvest picked: “tomatoes are the best,” she notes. Outside the kitchen, a pebbled area offers shade from heat of the summer sun and her favourite thing about the house is the small bedroom window that overlooks the large trees in the garden, providing a glimpse of the valley and endless starry nights. Interestingly, the house closely reflects Valentina’s childhood summers spent in the Italian countryside with her grandmother. “We had an estate in the Valdarno, with a chicken coop, a vegetable garden and horses. The house was near a forest where we enjoyed long walks. I have a very beautiful and vivid memory of the floral dressing gowns my grandmother wore, which in many ways signifies my first encounter with aesthetics.”
Valentina’s best inspirations come from her travels, particularly those to Mykonos and Marrakech. In her role as curator, she’s also fortunate enough to be gifted pieces by the artists and designers she works with, although “there is no compelling reason behind the objects I decorate my home with. I choose them simply because I love them,” she says. Her favourite item in the house isn’t an object, though, but her cat, Pancake. And if she were ever to live somewhere else, where would it be? “Bali. I like the spiritual sense behind everything and the detail of their daily life. I like uncontaminated landscapes like the long tea plantations. It’s a magical place where you can feel in touch with your soul.”
Valentina Guidi Ottobri, born in Florence, Italy in 1988.
Valentina works as a curator and creative mind across the world of art, collectible design and fashion.