Villa in Nice

The Pleasure is the Process

The most important choice a person will make when building or restoring their home, is the architect. The person who will share their dream, and years of their life. They will witness fights over the placement of the kitchen, the surprising emotion of choosing a fabric, the gasp when you see your view framed by a custom designed window for the first time. It is a long-term and intimate journey.

There is the right timing for everything, for babies nine months, for a house about three years - including the interior design. Unless, of course, we're talking about something that needs a lot of restoration.

The right architect is not the most expensive or famous, but the person you trust to co-create your vision. Cavagnari laughs with a small shake of his head, “Clients are obsessed with the final product, but what is more important is the process. How can we know the end until we begin? This is where we discover what can be.”

The exploration phase is to generate new ideas. There is magic in these discoveries but, for this to happen, the synergy between client and architect has to be perfect.

It's like going to a chef that is a meat expert and asking, please cook some fish for me. When you have the right person, you can trust them. The process will flow. I have memories of projects that were easy because they let me dream and be free. They knew I was the right person, and I would create a shoe that is going to fit them.

Cavagnari loves “the game”. The play of what home means for the client, testing the rules of design, imagining what could be, and seeing where each discovery leads you. He must find the story of the project, the source. With this inspiration, he imagines how the house could fit in the area – in a natural way, or something more experimental.

Next comes the design of the spaces. They have to flow, balanced from every point of view. Central to this concern is the proportions. Clients often want rooms with a high ceiling, but this isn’t always the best choice. “If the room is very long,” he explains, “then one wall can be entirely window. This is breathtaking. You can take your sea or mountain view and frame it horizontally. If you make that ceiling a meter and a half taller, the perspective changes and suddenly you don’t feel well in the room.” The space can feel cold, like a hotel lobby. With this in mind, Cavagnari analyses every wall and space throughout the home. “Everything should be interesting as you move through this skeleton, that is undressed at this early stage.”

With the bones in place, the imagination turns to detail. “I design the interior and the exterior because they must relate and communicate with each other. You make the bones interesting, and then you dress them. You develop the vision, and this is how it flows. We discover the end product together, in the process.”

“I understand the end,” he smiles, “but the beauty is this trip.”