Designer Q&A with Ingrid Steyrer

The designer discusses her latest project, the restoration of the historic Villa Flora - Lake Como in Cernobbio, Italy


Ingrid Steyrer is an Italian-based interior designer specializing in the restoration of historical buildings and villas. Originally from Austria, Ms. Steyrer is well versed in European architecture and the melding of contemporary and classical elements in her work.

We sat down with the designer to discuss her approach to interiors and hear why she chose Aqua Creations lighting fixtures and lamps for her latest project, Villa Flora - Lake Como in Northern Italy.

1) Ingrid, tell us a bit about the history of Villa Flora.

The Villa Flora is a historic Gothic Revivalist villa in the village of Cernobbio, just steps away from Lake Como. Its exterior is surrounded by a massive ornamental wrought-iron gate, original granite entrance fountain and a large lush garden.

The story of the home is quite fascinating. Villa Flora was purchased in 1860 by distinguished clergyman, Monsignor Antonio Ceruti, who was an archivist for the Cathedral in Milan and Como.

His title was bestowed upon him by the Pope and his deepest desire was to become the head of the Vatican library and perhaps, even the future pope. As fate would have it, Ceruti was pushed aside in internal politics by a younger, higher ranking priest, Achille Ratti, who took his coveted position and later became Pope Pius XI in 1922.

The story goes that Ceruti was so dismayed by the turn of events that he retreated for the last thirty years of his life to his beloved ‘Villa Flora’ and spent his time gardening and writing historical manuscripts.

Morning Glory Floor Lamp by Aqua Creations

2) What was your inspiration for the restoration and new interior scheme? 

This was an exciting project for me and it was a two year endeavor to bring the property back to its original grandeur. I wanted the home to retain its historical character, while implementing tasteful contemporary furnishings for comfortable modern living.

Except for the kitchen/dining area, which was completely gutted and turned into one large space, a major part of the work was restoration, as well as upgrading the electric and hydraulic infrastructure.

We gutted the moldy carpets and linoleum that covered the original 150 year old floors, and restored hundreds of terracotta tiles in red, yellow and marble. Old frescoes were uncovered under layers of paint, and bathrooms were completely redone in marble and onyx finishes, with mosaic accents.

Villa Flora - Lake Como

3) What are the most important lighting factors for homeowners to consider in their space? 

When designing a lighting concept one has to consider a host of factors. There is the functionality aspect, ceiling heights, natural light and of course, most importantly a theme which pulls the whole house together.

In this villa, the living and kitchen/dining area are open spaced and of equal size. They are separated by the elegant main entrance with its mosaic floors and stone staircase. Both areas are visible upon entering the home, so it was important that they speak the same lighting language.

4) Which Aqua Creations lamps did you choose, and why specifically? 

Altogether, I incorporated nine lighting fixtures and lamps from Aqua Creations in the Villa Flora. The large cooking and dining area has a centerpiece stone-top Boffi kitchen and a large Rimadesio glass dining table, with cream-lacquered Donghia chairs to match the pendant lights by Aqua Creations.

Two Stand By Pendant Lights (Cream Silk) were strategically placed in a row and provide the space with a crisp and charming touch. There is a complete harmony between the old and the new that makes this space the heart of the home.

The connected first floor features walls painted in an antiquated light terracotta color, so for the living room, I hung a large Stand By Pendant Light (Cream Silk) alongside a Morning Glory Floor Lamp (Cream Silk) in the space.

The eye goes to both rooms with the same lighting concept, but different forms and dimensions. The Morning Glory is what creates that sense of modern art and bestows timeless elegance. I feel it is never out of place in any ambiance.

Villa Flora - Lake Como, Photo by: Mattia Aquila

Upstairs, the large main bathroom features one Suuria Pendant Light (Gold Silk) and one Suuria Son Pendant Light (Gold Silk) which hang above the standing cast-iron bathtub. The pendant lights add materiality and extra illumination in the space. 

I placed two additional Stand By Pendant Lights (Cream Silk) in the primary bedrooms, while the old library features a grand ToTeM Silk Chandelier (Gold Silk) that accentuates the four-meter high ceilings.

This project was a sentimental journey, and I’m thrilled with the final outcome.



    Photography by Mattia Aquila, a renowned photographer capturing interiors, fine art and design for the likes of Architectural Digest, ELLE Decor, Marie Claire Maison, Condé Nast Traveller and beyond.

























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