Martina Mondadori's

Angelica Hicks
Hillier Bartley
Christiaan Houtenbos
Quentin Jones
Bianca Brandolini d'Adda

What does one pluck out as the leading information about Martina Mondadori? Is it her Italian upbringing as heiress to the hugely influential publishing powerhouse that she shares her family name with? Perhaps it was the years spent travelling the world, cultivating the collector’s instinct and curator’s eye that would go on to serve her with such distinction as founder and editor-in-chief of the much celebrated interiors/lifestyle-focused magazine, Cabana. Maybe it’s her own familial tendencies that have seen Martina settle with such aplomb into the magnificent Kensington home she now shares with her husband and children.

Of course, the answer is that any attempt at a definitive ‘hook’ is inherently reductive: it is impossible to isolate any one of these conversational strands that emerge over the course of a relaxed afternoon with Martina in her home. Instead, as the first hesitant rays of June sunshine dance about the boldly colourful fabrics adorning her first floor living room, it becomes apparent that Martina’s life is subject to the same ebb and flow as the trends she witnesses across the worlds of fashion and interiors: “It’s cycles, as with everything. You can’t just keep on going with only black and white forever…”

The subject of ‘cycles’ comes up more than once, notably when discussing the vision for Cabana, and the distinctive voice it has carved out for itself amongst the glut of interiors and design-focused titles out there. The magazine is unabashedly vibrant and tactile (each biannual issue features textile covers, the latest of which have been created by Alessandro Michele from Gucci’s storied fabrics). It was predicated, says Martina, by a disillusionment with minimalism and industrial design: “The comeback of unique pieces, the importance of craft, texture and layering.” Martina is also quick to describe the publication as a lifestyle one. It’s an oft-overused descriptor but to hear Martina use it in relation to Cabana you’re struck by just how much the emphasis elsewhere is usually placed on the style part of that phrase, at the expense of the life. Martina sums it up succinctly during a conversation about instagram (of which she’s generally a huge fan): “When a big star or celebrity says something like, ‘oh I can’t live without my Manolo Blahniks’ - maybe it’s true but maybe there’s some huge contact behind that…” Flipping through the pages of Cabana then, one thing you get above all others is a sense of life - of journeys taken and inspiration run wild. “People travel much more, so when you go to the Middle East, to Africa, to South America… It’s not something you’re scared of, and it doesn’t look ‘too rich’ or ‘too old’”.

There’s also the name of the magazine itself, which instantly conjures a different mood to the more conservative and stately alternatives out there: “Cabana is not only about the lavish Roman palazzo or Chatsworth House,” says Martina. “It can be a lodge - or a cabana! - because the chic of an interior can be literally anything as long as it is authentic and layered. Nothing [resonates] like a mix of amazing art pieces and flea market finds. That’s the fun of it.”

For Martina, it seems that ‘authenticity’ - that crucial weapon in the arsenal of the aesthete - is found by looking outwards. It makes a refreshing change, perhaps now more than ever, from many contemporaries who retreat into themselves in search of the same thing. This expansive perspective arguably informs everything Martina does, from pioneering collaborations (most recently, Cabana worked with Alessandro Michele and Gucci on a bespoke set of chairs and magazine covers) to a defiant love of flea markets around the world.

It also leads to eloquent and thoughtful discussions about the ways we negotiate a time of increasing uncertainty and bleakness. One statement echoes as our conversation comes to a close and a staircase descent becomes the impossible task of trying to drink in every lovingly selected, gloriously eclectic, perfectly lived aspect of Martina’s home - a home that both informs and is informed by Martina’s vision of Cabana:

“When the world out there can be so cruel… you want to feel cosy when you’re back home.”

By James Darton for Semaine.

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Interiors

Interiors

London Home

As you might expect, Martina’s Kensington home is a true feast for the eyes - a sumptuous blend of rich colours, considered artworks and inviting furniture that both informs and is informed by Cabana. “My home is a never-ending project for me, because I keep adding objects! It can be very expensive, as anything related to the home is, but I at least like to change the pillows from time to time, change the fabrics…”

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Bookshelf

Bookshelf

Martina's Reading List

When setting out to create Cabana, Martina wanted to craft something with permanence, “a statement” as she puts it. Her success in this respect can partly be measured in how comfortably the biannual tomes sit amongst the iconic monographs and literature found throughout her home.

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Recipe

Recipe

Courgette Quiche by Martina

Martina laughs when the subject of cooking comes up, describing it as something she enjoys as part of motherhood. “I love being a mum,” she says, “and I’m lucky to have a job that gives me the flexibility to be with them and even cook when I have the time!”

Courgette Quiche

Ingredients

  • 1 pack of Round Brisee Pasta (ready made) by Herta
  • 5 courgettes
  • 5 eggs
  • ½ onion
  • 250g Ricotta cheese
  • 80g mozzarella cheese for pizza
  • 2 spoons of Parmesan cheese
  • Salt, pepper, olive oil

Method

01

Cut the courgettes into thin round slices; preheat a pan with some olive oil and when warm pour the courgettes. Lower the heat, add salt and pepper and cover to cook until soft but not too soft.

02

Stir the 5 eggs with the ricotta, adding a little salt and pepper. Once the courgettes are ready, pour them into the egg and ricotta bowl.

03

Open up the round brisee pasta roll and place it on a container that can go into the oven. Pour the whole preparation into it, and on top put the mozzarella (that you will have sliced into small bites) and finally the parmesanto cover the whole thing.

04

Place the quiche into the oven preheated at 180° and leave to cook for 40 minutes. It is generally a good idea to leave 5 minutes at the end to grill.

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Travel

Travel

A guide to Italy

Whilst the familiar comforts of London, New York and the south of Italy have informed the places that Martina has called home over the years, her love of travel stretches to more far-flung locations in the eternal search for new flea market finds and exotic local crafts: “that’s when travelling becomes so incredible. Be it India or North Africa, or South America or anywhere.”

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Essentials

Essentials

Martina's Edit

Every so often Cabana hosts a fleeting ‘pop-up’ opportunity to purchase items for the home that channel that true Cabana spirit. As you might expect, many of Martina’s own essential items feature: for the most part assorted bijoux from the likes of Osanna e Madina Visconti and Percossi Papi. Antique jewellery from Milan and vintage Hermes passed down through the family add an old-world glamour to the everyday realities of being a mum.

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Art Gallery

Art Gallery

Martina's Art Gallery

Martina’s instinctive love of art was inherited from her father, along with a true collector’s mentality. Her home is adorned with striking works that somehow combine to work perfectly together: Goya and Degas sit alongside various pieces by Alighiero Boetti and the South African artist William Kentridge; an Anselm Kiefer painting compliments the Frank Gehry chairs in the library.

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See you soon!

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