Re-Designing A Harbourside Icon

Combining historic touches with contemporary design, Studio Festen harnessed the legacy of Portofino itself for one of their most exciting projects to date. Hugo Sauzay and Charlotte de Tonnac reveal how they transformed Splendido Mare, A Belmond Hotel, Portofino, into a chic spot of relaxed sophistication.

rope detail of a bed headboard


“Working within the mythic surroundings of this Italian village and renovating an equally historic hotel was very exciting. Our designs were mainly inspired by Portofino itself. Situated between the sea and lush vegetation, we fell in love with the colourful facades and the fishing port.

These details found their way into our redesign, particularly the nautical world with its varnished and painted wood and rope. We even incorporated the undulation of water, graphically reproduced on the terracotta floors of the ground floor. A colour palette of amber, terracotta and sea green is used throughout. It was important to us to study what living in Portofino was like in the 1950s, and add those little details.”

Light and airy hotel suite with parquet flooring, king bed and sofa seating area


“Our re-design of Splendido Mare allowed us to go into great detail. It was a joy to create each space uniquely, using both custom-designed elements and antique furniture. We blend classical design with modernity instinctively, often following traditional craftsmanship but reinterpreted in contemporary ways.

The choice of furniture and objects was crucial for us to channel the aura of relaxed sophistication we were striving for. We like our designs to have a sense of imperfection; for example, we only use natural materials that will become patinated over time. The mix of old and new in the furniture helps achieve this too.”

Close-up of Italian mid-century modern furniture in a hotel suite in tan and beige hues


“Authenticity is key, and so we worked with talented Italian artisans. The materials were also sourced locally too, such as the Carrara marble and slate. All of our custom furniture and lights were made in the north of Italy.

What’s more, all vintage pieces added to Splendido Mare are Italian—many dating to the middle of the century. We’re proud to feature pieces from iconic designers such as Gio Ponti and Paola Buffa, speaking to the highpoint of Italian design.”


A Ligurian Legend Re-Born

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