The Art of Storytelling with The Venetian Pantry
19 Oct 2023
When graphic designer Martina Casonato was growing up in a medieval village amidst the vine-strewn Venetian countryside, slowly and by osmosis her surroundings fostered a love of weathered buildings grown more beautiful through time. ‘It is only now that I fully realise what a deep impact my upbringing had on my aesthetic,’ she reflects. ‘The love for old things, gloriously crumbly buildings, layers of patina, rust and plaster. When we started renovating our home, I made a conscious effort to respect its Victorian roots, but adding a subtle Italian twist was inevitable. A home is, after all, the reflection of the people who inhabit it'.
From the beginning, Martina was unswerving in her conviction that the starting block should be the creation of the titular walk-in pantry she had always dreamt of. And, in keeping with her proclivity to storytelling, its character is richly drawn and multi-faceted. She explains, ‘The aesthetic I was aiming for was a mix between an authentic Italian grandma's kitchen and some of the cool east London restaurants Joe and I love to go to. I use a mix of contemporary storage boxes and re-purposed old jars – I like the mismatch, it feels more lived-in and authentic and not too precious. The little curtain is functional to hide the unsightly mess, but it also adds some of that ‘grandma charm’. As does the copper mould hanging from the pole – a cherished heirloom coming from my own late Grandma Lina's kitchen.’
Meanwhile in her bathroom, a masterclass in simplicity, warm neutrality and earthy hues, hangs an 1800s portrait of a nude, a figure that is not only beautiful but which she also defers to daily. ‘I bought it from a lovely antique dealer in Rye and it was the first big art investment I have made,’ she recalls. ‘There is something mesmerising about her, I just couldn't stop looking at that painting. The choice of its location was a no-brainer to me: it serves as a daily reminder to embrace my femininity and my body, with all its imperfections.’
Newer amongst her treasures are her latest Rowen & Wren discoveries, which she eulogises for their adherence to her design principles of understatement and integrity. ‘I came across Rowen & Wren as I was perusing the web for our front door accessories. I adore the timeless aesthetic and beautiful craftmanship – each piece feels like it has been around for hundreds of years, in the best possible way.’
As such, her Winkie Candleholders make such regular appearances at the dinner table that she scarcely bothers putting them away. And, with her Aubrey Oak Shelf, it was love at first sight. ‘I knew I had to have it even before I knew where to place it. It is just so darling!’
An Arushi rug, meanwhile, now resides becomingly amongst a newly created den, a cosy autumnal hideaway created just in time for the descending cool weather and darker days. All that is required now is to stock said den liberally with bounty from the Venetian pantry and retreat for the season – and, of course, for the telling of ever more beautiful stories.
Interview by Nancy Alsop.