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Designer Spotlight: Missoni Home

This family-run Italian powerhouse brand has been dressing homes for 24 years.
Roxanne Robinson Feb 19, 2021
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Considering the family business of Missoni, it's no wonder that the family-run textile and fashion business made its way into the home. Missoni Home is largely thanks to the family's nearly ninety year-old matriarch, Rosita Missoni, who led the fashion label's spin-off to interiors. Since its inception almost 24 years ago, Rosita has funneled her passion for both the famous textiles she and her late husband, Ottavio, created with her love of home. At 89 years of age, Rosita is still going strong, working to create invigorating and exciting collections for interiors and exteriors in the iconic Italian design house's trademark colorful patterns.

The History of Missoni

Long before the 1997 launch of Missoni Home, the Italian fashion brand was already legendary. Formed in Gallarate, Lombardy Italy in 1953 by the newly-wedded Rosita and Tai (as Ottavio was affectionately called), Missoni was and is a textiles-first brand. The house’s iconic patterned knitwear, especially the Zig Zag weave, gave Missoni its distinctive look. Together the couple created not only textiles but the fashion identity it would later inhabit. Though a team each had their role, according to Rosita," Tai was an artist, he didn't care about fashion. I was the designer." Their business blossomed into a global brand thanks to fashion legends Anna Piaggi and Emanuelle Khanh. And, by 1969 they built a factory in Sumirago, where Missoni still operates today. Diana Vreeland and Bloomingdale's first introduced the label to the US, and by the early 1970s, the brand hit the first peak of its fashion influence.

Much like the iconic look of Pucci and in keeping with the cyclical nature of fashion, Missoni continued to grow and maintain relevance as new generations of press and buyers discovered its uniquely graphic textiles. The brand would later branch into fragrance, a sport and diffusion line - M Missoni, a hotel, and even real estate development under the Missoni name over the years. It's important to note that many fashion brands do not create exclusive textiles, instead of purchasing finished reams of fabrics. Missoni purchases raw materials and develops distinctive knits and woven textiles from scratch.

The Birth of Missoni Home

After more than 40 years in fashion, Rosita wanted a change. "In the late 90s, I realized my life didn't correspond to the fashion life," she explains. "In the sense that I didn't go to the 'right' places, was traveling less. I was tired of the system of fashion, pitting creativity against commercial demands. I had no more fight for this, so I turned my interest to my home." Her daughter Angela was handed the reins to the Missoni fashion label in 1996 while her mother focused on the seven homes she and Tai shared.

Rosita Missoni
Rosita Missoni

"I have had the privilege of several homes, seven in total at one time. My love of entertaining and caring for my home remains," she asserts. With the main family home in Sumirago, Rosita also has homes in Venice, Paris, Sardegna, and Crans Sur Sierre in the Swiss Mountains, where she hunts for mushrooms. Until recently, there were also homes in London and the Mediterranean, in Dalmatia, where Tai was born. Here the family spent time sailing and diving in the summertime. "My love for the home remains. I like to entertain, have friends and family in. The home is still alive with little corners everywhere that I enjoy." These days she said her gatherings are much smaller given the health conditions imposed due to Covid-19. "[I] invite small groups, mostly family of 3 or 4, maybe six people around a big table," she muses.

Of course, in Sumirago, she is surrounded by a big, beautiful garden - and orchard! "My husband became a gardener, which he took care of until he died in 2013." The family suffered an unspeakable tragedy when her son Vittorio and his wife, along with several family friends' plane disappeared. Eventually, all were found dead after the plane crashed over Venezuelan waters. "2013 was a terrible year when we lost Vittoria and the others in the plane crash," she explains, still visibly shaken by the tragedy. A few months afterward, Tai died, he had no more energy to live and just wanted to close his eyes," she painfully recalls of her husband's passing.

Missoni Home...at Home

When Covid-19 struck, Rosita entrenched herself in Sumirago, surrounded by her beautiful garden. It allowed her to continue to go to the factory, which is just down the hill, and do work, albeit with strict precautions in place. With masks and social distancing (though mostly the employees were in lockdown at home), she never stopped working and continued to produce the 2021 collection. "My family, my grandchildren, and my work has always been my privilege; [grateful] that I can still take care of something that makes me get up in the morning with a certain enthusiasm," she said.

While Missoni is known for color, the 2021 collection created during the lockdown is one of the brightest to date, with the collection preceding it, and coming after it, being more subdued. The series has Rosita's handprints all over it. "A touch of color brings happiness to the home," she enthuses, "even in sad moments like the ones we are going through now."

Missoni Home 2021: Looking Forward

While at Surimago, surrounded by her beautiful garden and aiming to bring even more joy to the home of Missoni, she conceived the forthcoming 2021 collection.  She connected it conceptually to the four elements – air, water, earth, and fire - and layered four distinct themes within that theme; Garden Light, Night Flower, Iconic Flame-Retardant, and the astrological Constellation collection. To understand a layered four-part group is to understand the variety of textiles that Missoni creates seasonally and the mixing and layering of color and pattern for which the brand is known. As the collection notes explain, the collections' moods aim to bring an “eclectic, unconventional, to be lived with freedom, to bring joy and style inside and outside the home.”

Missoni Home: Aria Collection

Especially new this year is the Miss Wood chair and tables, which belong to the Aria or Air/Garden Flowers group. Produced by another family company, T&J Vestor, this marks the first time the house's iconic gradation color process is applied to wood. The beechwood chairs in a bevy of colors paired with a smooth long beechwood table are perfect for patio or home. As Rosita says, "it's a piece of furniture which is practically indispensable for a modern house," noting its pragmatic side.

“I always love to use rugs. The one in Aria looks like color swatches,” explains Rosita, noting its technique is reminiscent of the way they made rugs when the brand started in the Nineties. “We keep redoing the colorways and improving the techniques at Missoni Home.”

 If you are fond of a rainbow motif, this group is for you. Ikat-inspired, flame, and classic rainbow Zig-Zag patterns, which Rosita calls ‘flags’ of the brand, support the theme. Missoni Home doesn’t do florals per se but incorporates one style of each collection, presumably inspired by the gardens of Surimago. The Abigail flower print, this year’s motif, is a rainbow of watercolor vines crawling up a stark white background on bed linens. 

Missoni Home: Acqua Collection

As the name suggests, Acqua or Water/Night Flowers highlight the intermingling of blue lake tones paired with neutral elements such as slate, pebble, and travertine popped against stark black and white - Missoni's version of stripes. Natch, this means combos of blues and browns. Rosita is especially enamored with a new armchair style. She dubs the 'Grandma' chair covered in another floral pattern called Albuquerque.  The Grandma armchairs are one of Rosita's favorites. "It's the first time we did this type of chair," she said, "I think it's quite lovely. This is my chair." Albuquerque also comes in a vibrant circular rug that the family matriarch professes to love.

Missoni Homes_2.13_ACQUA_NIGHT FLOWER

Unique to this group is the Levante screen, which derives from Rosita's love of screens. While the Levante comes in wonderful jacquards, she took inspiration from a painted screen in her home. "I have this original 1930's screen in my home. One side is a scene of Venice, and the other is two ladies, one in red and the other in blue, sitting at a table," as she described it. "It's such a part of my life, they are like my roommates, and I can talk to them if I want," she adds with her infectious chuckle.

Missoni Home: Terra Collection

Missoni Homes_Holding images_Story Image Landscape

There is a practical utility to Missoni Home with furniture meant to withstand the elements. The Terra or Earth/Iconic Flame-Retardant jacquard fabrics come with either a wool or silk finish. Terra is naturally rich and somber with earth tones and represents classic Missoni Home. Durable yet sophisticated mini patterns, geometric shapes, the icon Zigzag weave, chevrons, and pine forest motif are part of this soothing collection.  The fabrics in this collection are especially suitable for contract furnishing concepts such as commercial spaces or other open spaces, and, individuals looking for this specific requirement.

Missoni Home: Fuoco Collection

Finally, the Fuoco or Fire/Constellation group is marked by playful astrological symbols reflective of ‘refined 3D mosaics. In the form of embroidered throw pillows or an artistic bas-relief on the backrest of a chair where one can choose their sign or as an allover pattern on couches or armchairs. There is even a constellation plaid becoming a wraparound throw. Specifically, the Aconcagua, Amarillo, and Andes patterns are essential in this group. Topping off these exceptional Zodiac signs is a unique resin-on-glass table in three colorways; shades of blue, black, grey, and white and, of course, a fiery red.

Creating the Fuoco images was an unforgettable experience for Rosita, who attends all of the photoshoots for each collection. The brand was granted access to a unique spot -. Orsoni Venezia 1888, the last historical glass furnace in Venice that uses original techniques of glass manufacturing. "It was a special place. It's a collection of Venetian glass, like a library of all the palettes of all the color shades they ever made," explained Rosita, "These are the pieces cut to make whatever they want, like the top of the little glass tables; it was really a nice moment to be in Venice and do this."

Missoni Home Styling Tips from Rosita

Of course, given her love of home, or as she puts it, "My territory is the home," and the body of work she has created over twenty years, it's natural to look to Rosita for advice in home styling. Especially for someone not used to the colorful chaos of mixed patterns and colors synonymous with the brand, it can be daunting. Her first suggestion doesn't involve buying Missoni Home at all. She recommends fresh flowers. "Naturally, you can have color and pattern in your home with fresh flowers." But once you’ve mastered that baby step in the Missoni way, she recommends adding in pillows. "I love pillows and like to work with them," she confesses, noting that "the Constellations pillows make great gifts for people as you can give them their [personalized] Zodiac sign."

In city dwellings, she also stresses the importance of curtains to layer in color, pattern, and texture as one “creates corners,” as she calls it. She also loves screens for creating ‘corners’. “I like screens to hide things like a table or corner, especially if something is in disorder,” she explains, “I love [incorporating] them in different heights.”

 One easy way to incorporate all three – color, pattern, and texture – is via the Arkansas textile with its black-and-white varying size Zigzag weave and contorting orange-and-red fringed diamonds. Another easy way is to pepper your outdoor space with the Atacama square poufs in various colors.

Rosita doesn't make a regional distinction between customers, say European versus American versus Middle Eastern, when it comes to embracing color and patterns. Of course, it depends on the climate, a Missoni Home customer appreciates high-quality products that are comfortable and exude joy and color. "They want to have fun decorating in a bright style," Says Rosita.

Missoni Home: The Next 100 Years

It's safe to say that Rosita considers herself 89 years young. There isn't even talk of her successor. Later this year, she and the company will mark what would have been the 100th birthday of Tai (he was born February 11th, 1921) with a yet-to-be-determined celebration. In the wake of the events of 2020, the home has become a focus once again as money once spent on travel, clothing and experiences are being redirected into people's homes. In effect, Missoni Home’s online business picked up in 2020, and according to a company representative, "in fact, comparing 2019 to 2020- despite the pandemic - better results yielded for 2020. Online sales have grown considerably by over 30% worldwide, exceeding expectations.” This figure probably comes as no surprise to Rosita. After all, her motto is that the home is "alive, constantly evolving, and never finished."

Roxanne Robinson
Roxanne Robinson is an award-winning Paris-based American journalist covering luxury and fashion industries with over 25 years of experience. I spent over 18 years at WWD, covering sportswear, accessories and fine jewelry. My career witnessed the shift from print media to the digital age. I gained expert knowledge of the design world, wholesale and retail markets as well as the marketing that supports them. I met endless creatives and business people who create luxury from inception to POS with the consumer. My work has appeared in Forbes.com, BoF, The Hollywood Reporter, CRFashionbook.com, The Jewelry Journal as well in-house publications and websites at Bally, Pomellato, Au Depart and Editorialist.com among others.
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