Q & A with Allegra & Valeria of Once Milano

Once Milano sells hand-made and dyed Italian linen. They are opening a new shop in London’s Ham Yard W1 next week. We interviewed the founders Allegra and Valeria.

Allegra

What do you most like about your work?
A newly born company requires a huge amount of work in such a variety of fields, some of which you have never thought of engaging in…but the start of it is actually linked to one specific passion and love for what you are creating. You have those rare moments in which the colours, the products, the feeling you had in mind, all come to life – that is what I love the most of my work and what gives meaning to everything else.

Where would you most like to live and why?
I have lived in London and love the city. It is such an open, multicultural place, full of life and inspiration. I also love living in Italy where we have space for the kids to roam free. Opening our store in Soho has opened my eyes to a part of London that I don’t know so well, which is also really inspiring. For now I am happy dividing my life between the two places, but maybe one day, I will have a chance to spend time in London with the entire family.

What would you love to collect – money no object?
I like to bring home any objects that remind me of special places I have been. It usually is less about the object itself but more about the memory and the feeling it recalls. Together they provide constant sources of inspiration from this mix of memories and colours, textures etc.

What do you most dislike in design and furniture?
Too often design, and particularly furniture design, gets caught up with current trends. Take furniture: at some point everybody is doing seats…so all you see in the shops, in the showrooms, in the houses designed by famous interior designer are seats. Think on your own, have your own ideas. It’s not about following trends or even setting them: make products that work for people and make their lives a little better.

Which designer do you most admire?
Carlo Scarpa and Gio Ponti, amongst other great talents.

If your house burnt down and you only could carry out one thing, what would be?
I have never had a doubt on this: my photos album. Wherever I put them is home for me!


Valeria

What do you most like about your work?
I love the creative aspect of the work. My background is in Corporate Finance law but this feel much more natural to my passions and interests. While I look after the commercial side of the business, I am very involved with Allegra in the creative development of the company. I also like dealing with customers and changing their perceptions of the value in simple home luxury.

Where would you most like to live and why?
I am from Venice and it is a magical place but I have made London my true adopted city. It is full of inspiration and people from everywhere around the world. Even the food – it used to be so difficult to find inspiring food in London; now however it is like a great culinary adventure!

What would you love to collect – money no object?
I love art and photography, and have a passionate interest in watches as well.

What do you most dislike in design and furniture?
Our philosophy at Once is to make everything simple and natural, focused on the individual customer. Sometimes design can be stiff and pretentious, looking to create for the product sake. Sometimes you see these beautiful interior shots in magazines and then you realize there is no way you could live in such a space. Our goal is to make the home livable and stylish!

Which designer do you most admire?
I love watching Allegra create, and it has brought a new appreciation for designers and their work. I love Lino Tagliapietra and Carlo Scarpa. I also find Tomaso Buzzi exceptional.

If your house burnt down and you only could carry out one thing, what would be?
You know, I have some sentimental pieces of jewellery and some artwork that has special meaning, but if the house burnt down, I would probably just grab the kids and shout at my husband to run out! Most things really are replaceable.