Dedar, dream home that changes with the seasons

In Italian's design capital, a textiles titan creates a dream home that changes with the seasons.

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When Caterina Fabrizio, the second-generation co-owner of her family’s textile house, Dedar, was searching for an apartment in 2014, her main objective was simplicity. A few years prior, she had overseen an exhaustive gut renovation of her family home on Lake Como, and now, downsizing and moving to Milan with her two young sons, she wanted to “keep things light.” When she came across the ground- floor flat of a neoclassical 1930s villa, she fell in love with its double-height ceilings and generous full-length windows, but it wasn’t exactly what she’d envisioned. It was smaller, with three cubbyhole bedrooms and a narrow galley kitchen. However, the sprawling walled-in garden—an extreme rarity in Milan’s center—had her convinced. “ My boys are country boys,,” she says. “They need space to play.”

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Thankfully, only a few changes were required: removing the 1960s laminate flooring, which revealed glossy mosaic parquet; touching up the paint on the walls and wide arched doorways; and restoring the ceiling’s delicate geo- metric-patterned molding. All that was left was to choose the fabrics.
Admittedly, she was in a good position to do so. Dedar, founded in 1976 by Fabrizio’s parents, Nicola and Elda, is known for its opulent textiles and ubiquitous presence in high-end hotels and glamorous homes. For instance, the company made the abstract patchwork jacquard hanging like a canvas above the mantel in designer Lee Broom’s TriBeCa penthouse, and the warp-printed satin blend lining the walls of the Dimorestudio-designed Palazzo Fendi in Rome. Italian director Luca Guadagnino even swathed Dedar fabrics across the set of his Academy Award–winning 2017 film, Call Me by Your Name. “He contributed to the appreciation of a certain kind of Milanese lifestyle and aesthetics,” Fabrizio says, which, incidentally, could also apply to Dedar.

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Sunk into the center of a plush, petrol-blue velvet sofa, Fabrizio, too, is the picture of Milanese aplomb. She’s stylish—draped in a pleated Dior skirt in khaki-colored gab- ardine and a stiff white button-up blouse, its raw-edged col- lar peeking out beneath her wild auburn curls—yet warm and gregarious, but she is razor-sharp when she’s discussing her family business.

Fabrizio was born in the city but raised near Como; after founding the company, her parents moved the family closer to the region’s textile manufacturing. Dedar’s reputa- tion was cemented in the early 1990s as an artisan brand that was technologically innovative when traditional textile companies were loath to shore up their precious silks with fibers like polyester. “We could make silk blends in beautiful colors that wouldn’t be damaged by the sun,” she says. Fab- rizio joined Dedar in 1997, bringing new energy to the brand. Several high-profile projects followed, including a partnership with Hermès to produce fabrics and wallpapers, and curtains for the brand Cassina.

But for Fabrizio, Dedar is inherently personal. Developing the new collections, she says, “is based on our own experiences in life.” She takes a similar approach to design- ing her home. Her brother, Raffaele, who co-owns the family business, says: “My sister is a very open person. She likes to play with her house. It’s a place of experimentation.”

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In other words, Fabrizio sees her home as an outfit that can be accessorized. For instance, when the rest of Italy undertakes the cambio dell’armadio, the religiously observed domestic ritual of swapping your closet’s seasonal clothes, Fabrizio restyles her entire house. “The furniture stays and the fabrics and carpets change,” she says, refer- ring to the orange and blue Indian dhurrie rug from the 1930s, violet silk-velvet curtains, the sofas’ wool-velvet slip- covers, and the wrought-iron daybed upholstered in a jac- quard silk tiger motif inspired by Tibetan carpets, all of which she’s picked out for fall.
As for furniture, she prefers comparatively minimal forms.

The apartment is filled with understated archive pieces from the ’60s and ’70s—a circular cocktail table by the radical design group Superstudio, a lacquered cerulean cabinet by Kazuhide Takahama, and a concave lamp in chrome and glass by De Martini, Falconi & Fois. Despite the home’s stalwart furnishings, the charm of Fabrizio’s flat is that it’s forever in flux. “You have to continue to be inspired,” she says. “Otherwise, you don’t have fun. And if you don’t have fun, you can’t make beautiful things.”