Press & Media
Feb 2021 Vogue Living
Collette Dinnigan with husband Bradley Cocks and son Hunter outside Chiesa della Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini in their adopted home city of Rome, Italy.
I have a great passion for textiles and colour, which have inspired both my fashion and interior lives,” says Australian designer Collette Dinnigan from her 18th-century top-floor apartment in Rome’s Centro Storico where she is currently living with her husband, Bradley Cocks, and their son, Hunter. “I love an eclectic mix of old and new. I believe I always create a freshness to my spaces and most definitely give them a feminine edge.”
For Dinnigan, the power of femininity has always been central to her aesthetic. Having wound up her hugely successful fashion business in 2013 to spend more time with her family, the award-winning designer — who was bestowed an Order of Australia in 2017 — has gone on to build a reputation for her romantic interiors infused with a carefully considered combination of art and antiques, nature-inspired pattern and floral-infused colour. Dinnigan has worked on luxury penthouse suites at Bannisters by the Sea in Mollymook on the South Coast of New South Wales and a wallpaper range for Porter’s Paints in addition to interiors for her own string of properties past and present: her former Watsons Bay home in Sydney, a farm in the NSW Southern Highlands and an 1880s property near Bowral, which remains a retreat when the family is in Australia make up just some of the designer’s interiors ouvre.
Dinnigan with her family at Museo dell’Ara Pacis in Rome.
Over the past three years however, Dinnigan’s home of choice has been Italy where in the summer of 2019, she and Cocks purchased a two-bedroom apartment in Rome as a main residence while renovating Casa Olivetta, a 500-year-old rambling masseria in Puglia. “Our home in Rome is very private yet a place that is always filled with joy and life,” says the designer. “And as much as we dream about relaxing, our home is always energised with friends and family eating, drinking and telling stories. It really is la dolce vita.” While Italy provides an endless source of inspiration for Dinnigan, she still calls Australia home.
In the kitchen dining area, Fiori Blu handmade ceramics from Collette Dinnigan Ceramica, available at The South Store, Bowral; napkins and silverware from antiques markets in Parma; Big Buti Blue tablecloth from Fabindia Roma; photographs (on wall) by Alexandre Veron.
Right now, the dynamic entrepreneur has yet another project underway, the launch of a collection of ceramics including plates, lamps and candlesticks, all handcrafted in Italy. Below, we talk to Dinnigan about her Roman home away from home and her love affair with the Eternal City.
In the hallway, Dinnigan holds hydrangeas in Bordeaux Fiori ceramic jug from Collette Dinnigan Ceramica.
“I was looking for a space that felt very Roman. What Bradley and I loved about this apartment was the central location and that it was filled with sun. We have windows on both sides that look out across rooftops and church domes. It’s surprisingly very peaceful and we love the sound of the church bells throughout the day. Although the apartment needed refurbishing, the original old stone floors, wooden beams and terracotta roof tiles were in very good condition.
In the main bedroom, wardrobe once owned by Sophia Loren from the Parma Antiques Fair; illustration by Grant Cowan.
One of my most cherished pieces of furniture is a black and white armadio [wardrobe]- style piece for our bedroom, which I bought from an antiques dealer who showed me a picture of when it used to belong to Sophia Loren and it was in her house.
I treated myself to an Alberto Giacometti sculpture after much deliberation — I bought her from an antiques dealer in Monaco. I also love the Christo photographs I found in a little photography gallery in the Jewish Quarter here in Rome and the oil painting of a teapot and cherries by an unknown artist I found at a market.
Each piece has been an emotional purchase — which I think is the way it should always be — but still fits perfectly in each corner of the apartment. I have also collected many original prints of Roman and Italian landscapes and prominent buildings, which I love as they really give you the sense of history this city has.
Over the last year I have been designing lamps and candles, as well as hand-painted plates with a ceramicist in a small little village in Basilicata, which have just launched. It’s been very inspiring to work with artisans again and I am very excited to launch the collection in Australia.
Everything is hand-thrown and painted, and the lampshades are also all made by hand. We’ve had many challenges, particularly coordinating all the freight and artisans in another language. Nothing is easy so I’m lucky I am so passionate about this new venture.
I feel very inspired to set up shop again and combine my love of ceramics, textiles and objects into a new retail venture. It’s all new for me so I will have to wait and see what surprises this brings… hopefully mostly fun ones.