If you’ve been around the blog very long, you know that much of my design inspiration comes from my travels around the globe. Traveling to new destinations is life to me. Travel doesn’t just inspire me, it gives me something to dream about, something to aspire to, and something to remember and reflect on once I’ve settled back at home. As a designer, my goal is to turn those moments of wanderlust into tangible creations – products that capture my feelings abroad and bring that same feeling home to SmithHönig friends.
Introducing one of my favorite products influenced by my travels — our Moroccan Knot pattern. And despite what the name might suggest, this bright and colorful Moorish design is named after a villa in Italy.
It all started when, a few years ago, Mr. H and I took a trip to Italy for my birthday (it was also our anniversary) and we picked a splurge-worthy hotel, the Villa Crespi in Orta San Giulio. We got a great deal since it was the off-season and the hotel was kind enough to upgrade us as well! So the stage was already set for a memorable trip.
But I was unprepared for the exhilarating beauty of Villa Crespi. I don’t know how you prepare for a magical fairy tale palace with stunning arabesque architecture, but some glasses of Italian wine sure helped set the mood.
Stepping into Villa Crespi—and the unspoiled village of Lago di Orta in the Piedmont region of Italy—is like brushing aside the curtains of time. The entire Lake Orta area is a hidden paradise. While we visited, a classic car show was happening as well, which just added to the “Who am I and what year is it?” feel. It truly is a wonderland.
And how exactly did a Moorish masterpiece end up in Italy? This spectacular property was commissioned in 1879 by Cristoforo Benigno Crespi, a wealthy cotton merchant. It was designed to reflect the Moroccan riads and palaces Crespi had seen on his cotton-buying trips to the Middle East. The finished home—which took over 30 years to complete—features elaborate Moorish architecture and design, with almost every surface covered in elaborate filagree and alive with pattern.
The villa has changed hands over the years, but its original beauty has thankfully been lovingly maintained. Now it functions as a hidden haven for lucky wanderers like me. I spent days exploring every corner of the property, photographing the inlaid parquet and terrazzo floors, ornate ceilings, and fabulous tile work. There are enough details throughout to fuel a lifetime of inspiration.
Obviously, I love high-end design and I love fabulous hotels. Hotel Villa Crespi is more than that. It’s a mood, a moment, a moving, immersive experience. And it’s a feeling that I wanted to bring home.
Upon my return, Kellie and I set to work in the studio creating our iconic Moroccan Knot pattern. It’s ornate yet relaxed, colorful but soft. I like to think it’s as timeless as the wonderland that inspired it. We love the design so much that we made it into wallpaper, fabric, wall art, and pillows.
Our Moroccan Knot pattern always reminds me of that magical trip to Italy. And I hope we’ve managed to bring a little of that Villa Crespi magic home to you, too. Have a magical place we should visit? Comment below.
It’s a ‘happy’ pattern, full of color and movement. If you’d like to add a little globally-inspired fun to your decor, may I suggest Moroccan Knot?