MILAN — After having created statement shoes sported by Hollywood’s A-list actresses and royal families, Aquazzura’s founder Edgardo Osorio is putting his feet under the table in home interiors by launching a collection of tableware.
To be presented during Milan Design Week, the inaugural line is part of the Aquazzura Casa project Osorio first introduced in 2020, when he tapped designer Fiona Leahy as co-creative director to develop the home business.
If at the time the expansion into home furnishings might have seemed a stretch for a brand rooted in luxury footwear, Osorio stressed hat the idea actually dates back to the inception of the company in 2012.
“When I started Aquazzura, I’ve always wanted it to be a lifestyle brand and that’s why I named it this way,” said Osorio, who dreamed up the moniker while staring into the crystalline waters of Capri, his favorite island.
“So it was about Italy, summer and La Dolce Vita, seen in a modern way. That’s how I imagined it and I’ve always thought it would have been so much more than just shoes. It just took me 10 years [to do it],” he added with a laugh. “The funny thing is that [home design] is really a project of love and passion, not necessarily something that makes much sense. Maybe it would have made more sense to launch bags first, or men’s footwear but I’m so passionate about tableware and interiors that I just really wanted to do it. And it felt like the right time in the last couple of years, I had the time to dedicate myself more to it.”
Even if Osorio first approached the world of interiors in 2017 — when Aquazzura teamed with British home decor label de Gournay on the creation of a special wallpaper and a matching limited-edition shoe capsule — the idea of a structured launch concretely materialized right before the pandemic, as the designer wanted the project to be part of the initiatives marking the brand’s 10th anniversary this year. While waves of lockdowns may have slowed the production process, they also sparked the market’s booming demand for the category.
“I think people rediscovered the art of hosting and having guests home. It’s a beautiful expression of love: You’re taking the time to make something beautiful for your friends and your family. It’s so nice to create an ambiance and put the music so some people can relax and feel at ease… It’s much more personal and intimate compared to going to a restaurant,” he said.
In his case, he perfected his hosting skills also thanks to Leahy, whom he met years ago. Founder of her eponymous design line, the Irish-born Leahy is well known in the industry thanks to her tie-ups with celebrities and brands, including Louis Vuitton, Christian Louboutin, Stella McCartney and Aquazzura itself, for which she has designed parties, events, dressed windows and dinner tables.
“She’s kind of the queen of tablescapes. When we were doing dinners and events, we always put so much love into the tables and they were always a big success, people really wanted to buy them or know more, so [Aquazzura Casa] was kind of a natural evolution of it,” said Osorio.
“As for me, I’ve always actually considered myself as a creative person that makes fashion but I’m not a fashion person per se. I’m so much more interested in interiors, design and arts in different other fields,” continued Osorio, who enjoys going to antique fairs, flea markets and auctions for inspiration. “So this world has always been a been a part of me, and you can see it even when you enter my stores. All of them are different: I’m very involved in the design and I like to describe them as my little living rooms in each city.”
For one, the store he opened in Capri in 2020 was inspired by the vibrant spirit of the island, featuring seaside motifs, pastel colors, coral sculptures and a hand-painted ceiling depicting local symbolic elements such as lemons, oranges, flowers and ship ropes.
The tableware collection bowing this week will include some of these motifs, in addition to other signature codes of the brand, such as the pineapple decorating on Aquazzura shoe soles and boxes that Osorio chose as a symbol of hospitality, beauty and luck.
Divided into four themes, the tableware drop includes “Tutti Frutti,” a theme linked directly to Capri as China pieces and tablecloths are adorned with lemons and cherries; the “Jaipur” line, defined by white China mixing graphic accents in cobalt blue, pink and burgundy to floral and fruit motifs, and the “Cherry Blossom” range of delicate celadon green and powder pink plates, tureens and trays paying tribute to Japan’s sakura season.
Adding to the floral reference, the “Secret Garden” line injects a modern spin into dinnerware and fabrics inspired by 18th-century China. As part of this theme, a limited-edition kitchen manufactured by Florentine historic company Officine Gullo and hand-painted with the same botanical motifs will also be unveiled at Fuorisalone. The exclusive furniture marks Osorio’s second collaboration with Officine Gullo, after the two parties teamed up to create the designer’s own kitchen last year.
But to think that Osorio started his venture in interiors from kitchen and tableware for a preference toward this area of the house would be a mistake. “I actually started with the kitchen because I don’t like to be in it. Ever,” he said bursting into a laugh. “So when I was making it for my home, I wanted a space where I wanted to be in, that made me happy and comfortable.”
The designer believes that his experience speaks for a lot of people, as he noted that there’s a “really big gap in the market for kind of tablescapes that make you dream, that bring the Italian dream to your table.”
“When I think about my favorite shoes, they are the ones that make you smile, that when you wear them you already feel you’re on a holiday or somewhere else… I feel the same can be applied to tableware,” he said. “It’s so nice to see a beautiful plate or table setting when you’re having breakfast, it makes you smile and can change your day,” he continued, underscoring that these products can last for decades compared to fleeting fashion trends.
The category is set to introduce Aquazzurra to a larger audience, which is one of the reasons why Osorio doesn’t see his foray into homeware as a side project, conversely to other fashion competitors.
“We started a separate company, we have four collections, we have over 400 stockkeeping units, including linens, China, Murano glassware, gifting items. There’s something for everyone and you can buy a whole table or just a mug, there are so many ways to approach it.”
While the catalogue is already set to be expanded with candles, ambience scents and, starting next year, cutlery, the holistic approach to the category is seen as a key asset by the designer. Osorio noted that whereas many companies in the field are specialized in specific products, to present well-rounded and already-curated tables makes the offering more accessible to inexperienced consumers and facilitate the shopping experience. To further help customers, Aquazzura will create tutorials on how to set up tables and decorate them in different ways, launching on its online store along with the collection.
The physical rollout will kick off from the brand’s flagship in Florence, which will be revamped with an extra 2,153-square-foot surface opening in September. As a result, it will make for the biggest Aquazzura store worldwide and carry the home range, along with upcoming new fashion categories.
In addition, the tableware line will be carried at the brand’s store in New York, while the company is eyeing a plan of international shops-in-shop as well as corners within its existing retail network to dedicate to the project.
Overall, Aquazzura collections are distributed in 300 doors across 58 countries. Along with boutiques in Capri, Florence and New York, the brand has stand-alone stores in Milan, London, Miami, Doha, Dubai and São Paulo, and is set to launch units in Madrid and Paris soon.