- by Charlotte-Anne Fidler
Mine : Autumn 2015 / Chalet Girl
Interior designer Brigitta Spinocchia Freund’s modern, sophisticated take on ‘ski chalet’ is anything but freestyle.
Interview by Charlotte-Anne Fidler
Spinocchia Freund’s work is perfectly showcased in this exquisite, 11,500sq ft, eight bedroom property, situated in the exclusive resort of Courchevel 1850, France.
The property was transformed to reflect the beauty of the surrounding mountain vistas.
As Creative Director for developers Candy & Candy Brigitta Spinocchia Freund designed super-yachts, private jets and some of the most luxurious homes in the world. Now that she’s launched her own practice she’s taking a more personalised approach, but the focus is still on elegance and unique design.
“If I didn’t know any better, I’d think this (pictured) was the home of a very glamorous Bond villain! What kind of people live here?”
Ha! Ha! They’re far from villains! They’re young and fun – they have real joie de vivre. And they have a lot of children. They wanted a chalet that felt homely and comfortable. But they also wanted very cool spaces to entertain in.
“How does that affect the interior design and layout?”
We created spaces for wine tasting, large dinner parties and a space for après ski with a pool, Jacuzzi and steam room all lined with Nero Marquina marble slabs. And the bar has a recessed section on the top that can be filled with snow – and room for 20 shot glasses – so the vodka is always cold! We hung a 5m chandelier above it, dripping with thousands of selenite (mineral) icicles.
“What would you call the overall colour palette used in this house?”
I think the description ‘earthy’ is good! We always look at the environment a project sits in. With this chalet, we drew on the colours of the surrounding forest and mountain-scape. The rust reds and bronze add warmth.
“What happens in the huge main room?”
The entire ground floor is open plan, with amazing views and double-height ceiling over the seating areas. It’s another entertaining space, so we had to plan it carefully – thinking about how many people would use it, and where they could all sit. In the end, we created two ‘conversation’ areas, centred around the fireplace – and there’s a family kitchen, which they use for informal breakfasts and lunches.
“Tell us about the epic fireplace. It looks like a Birch tree rising up through the centre of the house…”
That was the idea! We used lots of natural inspiration in this chalet. It’s made from textured plaster and inlaid bronze. And it’s the focal point of the room – a place for people to gather, as well as keep warm. They can sit on the hearth all the way around, which keeps things informal.
“Those L-shaped sofas really invite settling in after a long day skiing…”
We take comfort very seriously! We prototyped them twice and actually measured the client (who is pretty tall) to make sure it was comfortable. There are two types of cushions – a memory foam for the seat cushion and softer duck down for the back cushions. It’s upholstered in a nubuck buffalo skin which is amazing to the touch and really robust.
“A floor-to-ceiling wine store and tasting table? These people, are obviously, serious oenphiles…”
The owner is a huge wine collector, so a wine cellar was a must. This one stores over 400 bottles, with each bottle electronically coded so that the client can keep tabs on their ever growing (or decreasing) collection. The wine-tasting bench was our suggestion. It’s made from a blackened half cedar log, which we hand-selected for the property. The stools are inspired by French 20th-century designer Paul Depré-Lafon, and upholstered in old vintage hides.
“With a wraparound view like this in the dining room, you’re never going to be short on conversation.”
We found that the square table works better than a round table in this space. It expands, but its sized so that you can still have conversations across the table. Interestingly, the show-stopping chandelier is a much of a conversation piece as the view…
“True, that icicle chandelier is fabulously eccentric… Tell us where you found it.”
This is actually my favourite feature of this project. We had so much fun creating it. We sourced the selenite ‘icicle’ crystals from Morocco’s Atlas Mountains and hung them from cast bronze branches. Its pair hangs over the seating area in the main room.
“Even the powder room is an event. Are those leather walls? And what’s the fabulous stone of the sink?”
The walls are clad in wrapped nubuck panels stitched together with leather laces. The vanity unit is made from solid amber onyx, lit from within to give it a gorgeous glow.
“Your rooms are so elegant and meticulously finished, but there’s often an ornate piece – like the chandeliers and gold coffee table. Why do you like to bring them into the mix?”
With this chalet, we didn’t want anything to compete with the winter wonderland outside the windows, so we kept things simple yet beautifully detailed. Even so, rooms can look a little sterile if they are too pared back, so a decorative item, like the chandeliers, add personality and a bit of fun to a space.
“Despite the glamour of the living areas, the bedrooms are surprisingly cosy. How did you create this effect?”
We used very soft, cosy fabrics on the bedding and throws from our Italian made SF range (Spinocchia Freund’s new linen range). Even the curtains are made with cashmere and wool blends. And we used a lot of natural materials, like wood and leather. And the colours – earthy browns and reds – add warmth and softness.
“How do you make a bed look inviting?”
Well, we use the top thread counts. Its all made-to-order, so each bedroom’s linen had customised borders to tie in the other fabrics in the room. We add toppers and two flat sheets and feather and down duvets to make things super-cosy. And I always put six pillows at the back, ranging from hard, through medium, to soft. The hard ones are for watching TV; the soft ones for sleeping.
“The bunk-bed room is so cosy. Do guests fight over who’s sleeping here?”
This room is for the kids – though we’re creating more in other chalets for adults! – and was such fun to design. We had small storage holes created for each bunk, where the guests can charge their phone or plug in their iPads.
“So, what’s the one word you’d use to describe your signature style?”
I don’t think I can use one word! So, I’d say, elegant, chic, eclectic. Eclectic because I like to mix old and new – antique pieces with the bespoke pieces we produce. And I’d say personal, too. We spend a lot of time getting to know how our clients like to live, so we really understand what their needs are. We think of ourselves as design dream weavers!
A crystal ‘icicle’ chandelier delicately illuminates the dining area with dappled light.
Spinocchia Freund focused on luxury and comfort, designing a property that centred on family living and entertaining.
For more information about Brigitta Spinocchia Freund, and to view the SF Collection, visit spinocchiafreund.com