We caught up with Jigsaw Interior Architecture’s Aless Cattaneo, on a packed commuter train, as she made her way to a presentation for a client in central London.
The Interior Design Department Manager, who studied fine art at Winchester School of Art, will have been with Jigsaw for four years this month – having ‘accidentally’ fallen into her career after answering an ad in her local newspaper.
With parents who renovated houses – her dad is an Architectural Technician and her mum has always been an interiors enthusiast, design is in her blood …
Q: What is your idea of the perfect room?
AC: Somewhere with high ceilings, lots of light, sea views and an incredibly comfy sofa! A room which has a variety of textures in it
Q: What is your greatest design fear?
AC: Furniture not fitting! It keeps me awake at night! Sometimes things aren’t built as they are drawn on plan, or additional boxing, switches etc appear
Q: Who is your favourite Interior Designer?
AC: Charles and Ray Eames, their contribution to modern architecture and furniture design was incredible, I dream of finding an original coat hook in a junk shop
Q: What is your favourite iconic designer chair?
AC: I think it would have to be an Ercol dining chair. Shaker style simplicity is so beautiful and timeless, they remind me of being at my Nan’s house.
Q: Are you a minimalist or a maximalist?
AC: Both! Personally I’m not a minimalist, my own style is quite eclectic but I tend to design more minimally for show homes.
Q: What do you consider the most overrated design trend?
AC: I think I’ve seen enough flamingos and pineapples for a little while
Q: Open plan or separate living room and kitchen?
AC: If I’m dressing a show home I love an open plan room so that you can see how all the living and dining furniture relates to each other. In my own home I like to be able to close the door on my dishes!
Q: Gold or silver?
AC: Gold… at the moment
Q:: I hear you have an encyclopaedic-like knowledge of Jigsaw’s fabric library by the way, what do you prefer pattern or texture?
AC: Pattern! Lots of it
Q: Shiny and new or preloved vintage?
AC: Preferably both mixed together. I like the idea of old and new sitting side by side, for example a sleek contemporary sofa paired with a vintage trunk for a coffee table.
Q: Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
AC: You’ll have to ask my colleagues that one, my strengths are more visual than language based!
Q: What’s your current state of mind?
AC: It’s Monday morning, it’s a busy commuter train, ask me at the weekend
Q: If you could change one thing about your job what would it be?
AC: I need more hours in the day! A teleporter would be useful too (looking around the train) and to have a space of my own so that I could enjoy what I do at work in my own home, everyone assumes we live in amazing places but my two-bed rental is fairly basic!
Q: What is your greatest design achievement to date?
AC: I think it would probably be the penthouse show home at Palace View in Lambeth. The headboard that I designed for an entire wall of the master bedroom was particularly challenging due to the sloping ceiling. I’ve also recently been working for a private client on his incredible penthouse in Westminster which has been exciting
Q: What do you consider to be a common design mistake?
AC: Not employing an interior designer (smiles)
Q: Who are your real-life design heroes?
AC: My dad, he’s an architectural technician and I love the way Kelly Hoppen accessorises
Q: What is your motto?
AC: Work hard, play hard
Q: If you were to die and come back as a person or thing what would it be?
AC: A striped deck chair, so I can look out to sea and enjoy the sun all day
Q: What do you most value in your colleagues?
AC: A passion for what we do, we inspire each other; and honesty
Q: If you had to pick one interior design style to live with forever what would it be?
AC: I think it would have to be Nordic/Scandi meets beach house
Q: Which historical design movement do you most identify with?
AC: Mid-Century Modern
Q: Favourite Architect?
AC: Gaudi, he was a true one of a kind
Q: Favourite artist?
AC: Anish Kapoor for his infectious sense of fun and the interactive quality of his works
Q: Thank you Aless, good luck with your presentation!