Giovanna Ticciati is discreet in the extreme about her customers. But one thing they have in common, says the designer and shop owner, is that “they are all super-cool. When someone walks in, there’s an immediate synergy between us because they have already appreciated my style.”
Ticciati’s style – as seen in her eponymous store’s sophisticated yet eclectic mix of antique and modern British and European furniture, lighting and accessories – is, she admits, “slightly individual”. For which read “a little off-kilter”. She may be based in Petworth, known as an antiques mecca, but her stock is anything but predictable. “I realise my shop is quite fashionable, but it hasn’t got the usual pieces in it that everyone wants,” she says. “I’m not interested in fashion. I get bored.”
Ticciati set up in 2007 to showcase her unique take on interior design, which includes quirky finds such as a pair of 1940s Italian wooden sconces featuring carved pears (price on request), an Italian marble and brass mid-century table with swan-head-shaped legs (£1,100) and a dark-green marble-topped French side table with horse-head-topped legs (£1,950). She teams these with classic pieces such as a Giò Ponti lacquered-wood circular Rosalinda coffee table, which is a reissue of a 1940s design (£3,650); a Jaime Hayon baroque-influenced table lamp (from £661); and a Mario Bellini dining chair from 1998 (£140), shamelessly ignoring the eras such pieces originate from. The thread tying it all together is Ticciati’s au point critical eye. “These designs all have a good line to them and are well-balanced,” she says.
Having garnered a reputation as a tastemaker, Ticciati is also in demand for her own furniture designs – many of which she uses in her private interiors projects. These range from creating bespoke furniture and wallpaper for a client in Kuwait to designing the interior of an open-plan kitchen, living and dining area in a converted barn in West Sussex. Ticciati’s designs are on display in the store. Made by local craftsmen, standout pieces include a stained-ash dining table called the Duomo, after Milan’s Gothic cathedral (£4,980), and a lacquered-steel chinoiserie-style low table, the Parterre (£2,400). Her Sonnelino sofas (from £5,190) – devised because antique seats often lack the comfort factor she seeks – are beautifully proportioned, with 18th- and 19th-century influences playing against clean, contemporary lines. “They are traditionally made, hand-sprung, hand-tied and upholstered just as an old piece of furniture would be,” says Ticciati. “The exception is the seat cushion, which is made from feather-wrapped foam, so you’re not forever having to plump heavy cushions.”
This pragmatic, details-driven approach is evident in everything that Ticciati sells. “Something can’t be beautiful if it doesn’t work,” she says. “The paradox of good design is that you don’t notice it. The drawer in the bronze coffee table I’m currently designing, for example, will glide in and stop perfectly. Nothing’s clunky. That’s what is really important to me.”