Chiarastella Cattana

An ultra-chic 17th-century space in Venice has become a global go-to for exquisite, limited-edition Italian textiles

Image: Mattia Zoppellaro/Contrasto.IT

Textile designer Chiarastella Cattana doesn’t bemoan the many years she spent in the trenches of Milan’s ready-to-wear fashion world, given that they took her to the place she is today – a place that’s only about 173 miles from the city of her birth, but light-years away conceptually. That place is Venice’s ancient – and ultra-chic – Salizada San Samuele, just a stone’s throw from François Pinault’s Palazzo Grassi and a quick stroll to the always-buzzing terrace of the Gritti Palace. Here, in a jewel-box 17th-century space, Cattana (first picture) has created an atelier-style beacon of exquisite taste frequented by the likes of Design Miami chairman and director Rodman Primack, Parisian über-jeweller Joel Arthur Rosenthal, and Robin Birley, who deployed her designs in the decoration of his members’ club 5 Hertford Street.

Image: Mattia Zoppellaro/Contrasto.IT

Milan’s hyper pace and industry convinced Cattana that textiles were her thing, but she craved a slower way of working with them – their traditions, their designs and above all their methods of production. The result is limited-edition and one-off pieces of exceptional craftsmanship and ethereal beauty, taking inspiration equally from forms found in nature – not just botanicals, but also exotic animals – and the magnificent architectural monuments of Italy’s past. Her signature bedcovers, for example, are almost heraldic in their motifs; the saffron jacquard Perugia (€390) has long been a favourite among her followers.

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For years, the lion’s share of Cattana’s output was sold abroad, much of it made to order. These days, however, her shop’s chicly spare shelves are stuffed with “ready-to-wear” cushions, table linens, coverlets and accessories, all executed by a select group of Italian artisans according to time-out-of-mind traditions.

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Cattana herself is most excited about her new line of wool and wool/cashmere blankets (examples in second picture, from €320) – weaves she has heretofore eschewed in favour of cottons and linens. “These are a real pattern story for me – more about geometry than my other designs,” she says. “I was inspired by traditional Nepalese checked blankets.” This season, her much-sought-after hand-dyed cotton/linen throw pillows (from €75) also showcase geometric repeats in improbably saturated shades of mango, crimson, turquoise and graphite. And among her bedclothes is a new range (from €380) in beautiful vintage linen, meticulously finished with bundles of white and slate-grey stitches.

Cattana hasn’t left behind fabrics by the metre (a covetable selection of jacquards and cottons, from €115, hangs behind the till), or wearable ones: her cotton-linen-blend kimono (€260), slightly structured but pliant and form-fitting, comes in a half‑dozen delicate colourways. Nor is she averse to letting other talented Venetian makers shine on her premises; the exquisite Murano glassware currently dotted around her boutique is produced by her friend Marie-Rose Kahane, under the name Yali. The delicate opaque Lattimo cups (€73), ornately ribboned A filo pitchers (€342) in vivid turquoise, lemon-zest yellow and fuchsia, and the new Monastir vase collection (from €1,460) are the perfect visual counterpoint to Cattana’s rich artisanal textiles.

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