In conversation with

Suites inspired by a love of Milan with Francesca Basu

January 22, 2019

Francesca Basu, a leading London-based architect and interior designer, shares with us her love of Milan. Read how the city, especially La Scala, inspired her luxurious design for our Principe Suites at Hotel Principe di Savoia.

A warm welcome

When I was kindly invited to design the Principe Suites, my aim was to create something exclusive and welcoming. Although glamorous design and dramatic tones are key ingredients, comfort is just as important as the aesthetics. These suites are quite eclectic, featuring iconic Milanese marquetry furniture and art that recalls Italy’s great heritage.

Inspired design

I always start a new project by getting a feel for the place and consider the type of person it would attract. For the Principe Suites I had a clear vision of Maria Callas, the renowned soprano opera singer, choosing a suite like this. I know she enjoyed staying at Hotel Principe di Savoia when she was performing at La Scala, so she became my ideal muse. This idea inspired the stylish fabrics and I envisaged her listening to ‘Libiamo’ from La Traviata, whilst indulging in a delicious glass of Italian red wine accompanied by some very dark chocolate.

A night at the opera

Opera is a great passion of mine and La Scala is Italy’s most prestigious opera house. It’s also representative of Milan and its strong tradition of music and ballet. Through echoes of classic Lombard style and contemporary elements, I wanted to make this spirit shine through. There’s a deliberate play on colour, from the delicate bedroom colours to the more theatrical living room ones and edgy bathroom design. I also played with different heights for the furniture, an essential element for making interiors look more striking and less contrived.

Motivated by Milan

For me, there’s nowhere like Milan. The city is a sophisticated combination of impressive opera, high-end fashion and exceptional architecture. The way these appealing attractions are mixed together is breath-taking. It’s a destination I never grown tired of and the same goes for Hotel Principe di Savoia itself. The hotel’s rich heritage is ‘rooted’ into Milanese life, yet it’s somewhere that still manages to evolve and doesn’t shy away from a little spontaneity.

Passion for excellence

I’m naturally drawn to creative craftsmanship and suppliers who share by passion for excellence. This is due to the quality of materials supplied by the best Italian and French houses, whose fabrics are based on authentic archive designs, including illustrious names such as Rubelli, Dedar, Sahco, Pierre Frey and Nobilis. Portraits of 19th century Milanese life and operatic music scores on the walls pay a fitting tribute to this amazing city. Design should feel like it has evolved over time. You want to acknowledge what came before. A sense of history is incredibly important.

Favourite find

I was so delighted by many of the fabrics and furnishings I found for these suites. If I had to choose one thing to highlight though, it would be the ornamental mirrors. They’re really unusual and something I’d love to have in my own home. I’ve a feeling that Maria Callas would have approved of them too!

When planning your next stay at Hotel Principe di Savoia I hope you’ll be tempted to choose a Principe Suite.

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Hotel Principe di Savoia

Effortless elegance meets timeless tradition. Dominating Milan’s Piazza della Repubblica, this spectacular landmark building has been the natural home for international travellers and cosmopolitan society since the 1920s.