This year marks the 20th year that Angela Missoni has been the creative director of her family’s brand. Her home in Italy is a modern one, with lots of natural light, clean lines, and bright accents (very Missoni!). It is filled with paintings and pieces by artists like Jenny Holzer, Alessandro Mendini, Graziella Marchi, Pietro Scampini, Tracey Emin, and Francesco Vezzoli. We visited Missoni in her home to get a sense of her distinct style and taste, and to learn why she considers herself an assembler rather than a collector.
WHITEWALL: We read that you grew up in an environment where friends of your parents—journalists, athletes, actors, musicians, and artists—were always around, that your parents had art on the walls and it was normal to hear talk about art exhibitions. Did that creative world feel natural to you?
ANGELA MISSONI: It was all very natural, yes. It was very much a mixed, rich environment of special people not only in a creative way or cultural way. I was a child and I was very shy, but I was really an observer and I felt that with everybody so special around that I’d never dare say a word. I was always around just listening.
WW: Do you still feel like some kind of an observer?
AM: No. I remember the day I turned 40 and I thought, “Wow, what a fantastic age.” It’s when you start not caring [what other people think] anymore. And now after 50, really, it is even more fantastic because you’ve done things and you’re more confident. You know, you don’t care. You might mess up, you might be wrong, but who cares? You might not be perfect, but okay.
WW: That seems to coincide with the time that you started to buy art. It wasn’t until your children were older that you began to buy and acquire art. What were some of the first pieces that interested you, that made you want to have them in your home?
AM: Actually, I remember my first art piece I asked for from my dad for my 18th birthday.
WW: What was that?
AM: It’s a sculpture, like two totems, very colorful and primitive by an American artist showing in Milan. He had an exhibition that I went to with my parents and I fell in love with the two totems.
WW: Do you still have those pieces?
AM: Yes, absolutely. They are in my guest room.
WW: That was when you were 18. So throughout your twenties were you still buying art from time to time?
AM: Yes, but I was very much more into decorating my house at the time. Then I had my children very young. I did not have much time. So my priorities were decorating with found objects. It’s still the way I’m doing it now.
Then I remember another piece that I bought when I was around maybe in my late thirties. I was in New York and my girlfriends took me to a house and introduced me to a designer artist, Dan Friedman. I fell in love with his work and the pieces that he was making. I bought a fountain and a screen. And those followed me.
WW: How would you describe the style of your home? You mentioned found objects . . .
AM: You know, I work it corner by corner. I’m always making little altars around the house, not because of religion, but I like working with the various objects that I’ve found. I’m completely a maniac for secondhand thrift shops. I love the idea of giving a second life to objects that nobody cares for anymore.
WW: Forgotten objects.
AM: Forgotten objects, yes. Like I’m doing some kind of adoption. So I will search the flea markets. My house is like a secondhand shop, but there are very few important pieces by Italian artists and designers that I was lucky enough to buy at the time. I never go looking for something; I go for things that I find. I don’t start with research.
And I approach an art fair in the same way. Even though I might have some artists in mind, you walk and see. My daughter will often walk around with me. I really have to look. I’m not an art collector in the way of it being a full-time job. It’s a full-time job to be an “art collector.” I’m an assembler.
WW: As you assemble in your home, as you call it, do you have a vision in mind?
AM: I now realize that I try to create harmony. And I can make that happen. I know that everybody who comes to this house feels very good. It’s a very intense modernist house, so very straight and made of glass, and there’s a lot of light with one stone on the floor everywhere and one color on the walls. The architecture is very pure and minimal.
WW: But it’s not cold.
AM: Yeah, it’s not cold, because it feels almost like a garden inside. It grows; it’s blooming. It’s blooming inside.
WW: When we last spoke with you it was in Miami during the art fairs a few years ago. Do you still go to the Miami fairs?
AM: Oh, yes, for a few years, I might take a day. But I can hardly can make it now. There are so many fairs now. It became too big and something that is very tiring. I’m very curious; I need to see everything. So if I’m going there and I’m missing something, it feels bad. There is too much and I miss it and it became too social. You know, I’m not complaining. Everybody can go wherever they like, but I don’t think there is anymore the kind of approach when it was a small event.
So I’ll go if it’s a smaller fair. I love the Turin fair [Artissima] because they work with a lot of young, smaller galleries. The owners will come in from all over the world and do an amazingly good job. I even like the Design Miami/ fair, which is getting better and better. And then, of course, if I happen to be in New York I’ll go see the Armory.
WW: And you have a home in Venice. Do you ever go to the art or architecture biennials?
AM: Yes, yes, of course. And I took my children when they were little. And [my daughter] Margherita studied architecture, so we are both very interested. And during those weeks it’s easy to come across friends and artists, and it’s a nice feeling.
WW: Do you have any relationships or friendships with some of the artists whose work you own?
AM: I do have artist friends.
WW: Can you tell us about the Ann Craven painting of the bright yellow bird? We saw a show of hers recently in New York at Maccarone gallery.
AM: I had this painting in my old house, and while I was fixing the new house I knew that this piece would go there. I’m so happy it has found its place.
This article appears in Whitewall‘s fall 2016 Fashion Issue.