Barnaba Fornasetti talks taste: Part One

Barnaba Fornasetti is custodian and creative director of the eponymous design atelier founded by his father, Piero

Barnaba Fornasetti in Milan
Barnaba Fornasetti in Milan | Image: Fabio Massimo Aceto

My personal style signifier is a Fornasetti tie. I wear a different design every day. It’s a nice way to introduce an element of transgression into your wardrobe, and it’s a communication piece. Plain-coloured and striped ties are so boring. In winter, I also wear a Philip Treacy fedora. I have two, one in burgundy, the other in brown – which was a present from a friend who has a boutique called Alan Journo in Milan. I like mixing colours and patterns, and defying convention. Alan Journo, Via delle Spiga 36, 20121 Milan (+392-7600 1309; Fornasetti, Philip Treacy fedoras, from £330;

Vis, Croatia
Vis, Croatia | Image: Getty Images

The last thing I bought and loved was a pair of limited-edition Stratford shoes from Church’s. I noticed them when I was in London the week before the Olympics. They come in 15 combinations of coloured leather with contrasting trim and laces. I bought a black pair with blue accents. £195;


And the thing I’m eyeing next is a new black wool, double-breasted coat with a beautiful sailor cut. I’m going to ask Trussardi designer Umit Benan to make it for me.

Church’s Stratford shoes, £195
Church’s Stratford shoes, £195 | Image: Fabio Massimo Aceto

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is the island of Vis in Croatia. I was there last summer, sailing around the area with friends. This was the first time I had been to the country since the war of independence, and I thought Vis truly beautiful. It’s very well preserved compared to the rest of the Croatian coastline.

The Sirens of Ships, 1917, by Paul Klee
The Sirens of Ships, 1917, by Paul Klee | Image: Getty Images/DeAgostini

A recent “find” is Le Loft, the rooftop restaurant of the Sofitel Vienna. The building was designed by Jean Nouvel and each room has a wall of windows with views over the Danube, but the best part is the restaurant, with its 360º panorama and the Pipilotti Rist installation projected onto the ceiling. The light from the artwork reflects on the windows, and the effect is like a burning sky over the city. It’s such a strong, incredible image. Sadly, it’s almost too crowded to move in there. Praterstrasse 1, 1020 Vienna (+431-906 160;

Fortnum & Mason’s Mr Nigel’s Orange Marmalade, £3.75
Fortnum & Mason’s Mr Nigel’s Orange Marmalade, £3.75

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Paul Klee. I’d love to have something by him, but it’s impossible for my pocket. To my father, Klee was like a Picasso or a Michelangelo. I was born into a house full of paintings and pictures, and my father would take me to exhibitions and museums. Sometimes he would treat me like a piece of canvas and paint on me.

Piano Calling by Cesare Picco
Piano Calling by Cesare Picco

The book on my bedside table is an Italian translation of French philosopher Serge Latouche’s Vers une Société d’Abondance Frugale [Towards a Society of Frugal Abundance]. It is about politics, the economy and how the way we are growing as a society, heedless to limits, is impossible to sustain.


The last music I bought was Piano Calling by Cesare Picco. He’s an Italian pianist who is famous for his composition Blind Date, which he plays partly in the dark. He starts with the lights on and then they slowly fade down – even the emergency exit light goes out – until you’re in total darkness. Then, after 40 minutes, they start to come on again. It’s a real

In my fridge you’ll always find bitter orange marmalade from Fortnum & Mason, which I eat every morning with bread. And rice milk, since I don’t eat dairy products. 181 Picadilly, London W1 (0845-300 1707;

An indulgence I would never forego is waking up late in the morning. I start work around 9am, but I live and work in the same building. Don’t ask me for an appointment at that time, though.

If I didn’t live in Milan, the city I would live in is London. I love how it is a horizontal rather than a vertical city. It’s full of interesting quarters and the many parks give it a feel of the countryside. I always stay at One Aldwych when I visit. It’s very well designed, but what I love most is the swimming pool. I swim every morning and this pool – which uses a special mineral solution instead of chlorine – is fantastic. From £330; 1 Aldwych, London WC2 (020-7300 1000;

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