Modern Meets Ancient in a Renovated Italian Vacation Home

The acclaimed Italian designers Ludovica+Roberto Palomba carve a serene retreat out of a 17th-century oil mill in Salento, filling it with custom creations and their greatest hits.

The house gracefully marries modern and ancient, as seen in the master bedroom, where a custom-built mirrored storage unit divides the sleeping and bathing areas.

In the rarefied world of Milanese design, high-profile stars usually work alone. Partnerships between husband and wife are even scarcer. Ludovica Serafini and Roberto Palomba may be the exceptions that prove the rule. Since 1994, they have collaborated on an amazing number of projects: designing bathroom equipment, kitchens, furniture, and lighting for an almost endless list of companies, including Boffi, Cappellini, Salviati, Foscarini, and Zanotta, and winning several prestigious awards, including a Compasso D’Oro—Italy’s highest design prize—in the process.

Ludovica Serafini and Roberto Palomba, who work as Ludovica+Roberto Palomba, commissioned a dining table of their own design from Exteta and paired it with Abanica chairs by Oscar Tusquets for Driade. The ceramic centerpiece is by Emilia Palomba, Roberto’s aunt.

When the couple decided to look for a vacation home, they turned their gaze far from the hectic world of Milan, their home base, and started house hunting over 600 miles away in the southeastern part of Italy, in Salento—sometimes referred to as the high heel in Italy’s boot—a sub-peninsula in Puglia. “This part of Italy is beautiful,” explains Palomba, adding that the family had vacationed there for many years. “We find it rich in poetry,” he says. “And since we love the area so much, we decided to buy a house there.”

Serafini and Palomba’s vacation home is a cavernous showcase for their own designs. In the living room, they created a one-off version of their Lama chaise longue, originally designed for Zanotta. The Zen Apple side table, also theirs, is from the Sen Line Collection by Exteta. The vases are by Guaxs.

They found the house of their dreams—an old oil mill that dates back to the 17th century—in Sogliano Cavour, a small village in the province of Lecce. “It was love at first sight,” says Serafini. “We are architects, and we immediately understood the potential of the place.” The couple realized that they could put their own imprint on the house but still retain its raw spirit, keeping the ancient stone floors, walls, and arches intact.

A geometric patterned rug by Karpeta anchors pieces the couple designed for Zanotta, including three Pianoalto sofas and a scattering of indoor-outdoor Ninfea and Loto coffee tables. Also pictured is a Paraggi camp bed and wooden Zen screen for Exteta and a Morphing round mirror for Kos.

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