During a recent trip to Italy the inspiration was endless. It not only adorned the walls and sprawled itself around me, but also lived in the very floors we walked upon on and the ceilings that hovered above. The use of stripes as a subliminal messaging tool via design also captured my attention, but overall, the history that was present throughout was really what I connected with.

The importance and history of floor and ceiling design can be traced all the way back to the Middle ages when Italian floors were ornately decorated with marble and other hand-made decorative tiles. It was during the 12th and 13th centuries when the Pope had a direct influence on the tiling industry. As a result marble-tiled decorative flooring was a chief feature of the papal city.

Specific designs were created and applied to various locations. From geometric designs in churches to herringbone and a classic brick wall arrangement, artistic expression soared. The beauty from this era still lives on and provides a magical setting and a tangible piece of history that set the scene for much to come.

After being captivated by the stunning floors and ceilings, I discovered another visual element, which presented itself in a fascinating way. What I find most intriguing about the use of stripes is the subliminal message. For example, a horizontal line would be used to evoke a sense of calmness. Like the horizon, horizontal stripes broaden the space and also create an illusion of something being shorter than it actually is, thus less overwhelming and more peaceful. On the contrary, vertical lines heighten, extend, and narrow a room, thus creating a more formal atmosphere.

In Tuscany I had a private tour of the Castello di Brolio which dominates the southern Chianti Classico countryside and has done so for over ten centuries. Located on top of an isolated hill, the castle has Lombardic origins and has been property of the Ricasoli family since1141.

On the grounds was a small chapel with a fascinating reference to horizontal stripes, and also the most beautiful compilation of patterns that I have ever seen. I am really looking forward to incorporating these special elements in my work and transforming a space with this powerful visual tool.

Above all unique and artistic floors and ceilings, and the imaginative and powerful use of stripes lies the most important, all encompassing detail, which is artisan work and history combined. Yes, a floor can be beautiful and appealing, but the story of it is what I find most special. An Italian floor in one’s home comes with a past and comes rich with history. It provides an opportunity to keep centuries of traditional artisan work alive and breathe new life into something that may otherwise have been forgotten. The thought of re-purposing something so special that was made with raw talent and craftsmanship is a truly special act.

Taking these strong elements into my world of design and applying them in clients’ homes is where the ultimate reward lies.