BOH caught up with Francesco Uecher, the North American sales manager of Italian textile brand Mariaflora, to discuss the brand’s new Montecito collection, which was designed in collaboration with designer John De Bastiani.
What’s the inspiration behind the new collection?
The Montecito collection reflects the ethereal outdoor elegance and romance of its namesake California town as well as the Mediterranean air of our family home [in Italy] with its subtle blue, gray, warm terracotta and ivory color palette. In the new Montecito collection, Mariaflora’s trademark Italian craftsmanship emulates its durable fabrics with an astute edit of colors, textures and patterns.
What was the starting point for this collection?
Homes in Montecito are built around the rolling landscape, so much so that gardens are often as important as the interiors. Enveloped by old-growth oak trees and lined with giant eucalyptus allées, Montecito recalls the California ranch attitude of healthy and ideal living. The collection aims at complementing this relaxed and elegant lifestyle by balancing durable fabric with fine Italian craftsmanship and the perfect array of colors.
What piece are you most excited to unveil?
One of the most fascinating pieces featured in the Montecito collection is the San Ysidro Medallion. Its sophisticated design, woven into a solution-dyed acrylic bouclè yarn and engineered with the know-how of Italian craftsmanship, recalls the opulence of adorned iron gates and patinated mosaics of the many hidden estates and ranches tucked away on San Ysidro Lane.
How does the collection build on or complement your other offerings?
Four years ago, we started our journey to engineer a revolutionary product for the indoor-outdoor market. We wanted our fabrics to deliver high-performance and durability, yet at the same time we wanted them to be as soft and sophisticated as their natural counterparts. After two years of research, in 2020, we started weaving our fabrics with a new kind of acrylic yarn, sourced in Italy and engineered by my father, Filippo Uecher. We are the only company in the world holding the patent and using this cutting-edge technology. My father invented the Linen Look technology, which is now Mariaflora’s signature. This particular yarn’s complex engineering is inspired by linen fibers, and it successfully recreates the natural look, resilience and soft hand-feel typical of natural yarns on acrylic. The results speak for themselves: Mariaflora fabrics are as sophisticated as their natural counterparts and impressively soft, without ever failing to deliver an infallible performance against stains, spills, weather and fading. Montecito is a great achievement in this sense.
What about the collection feels fresh and exciting?
We usually manufacture all our collections ourselves, with my family taking care of the whole design process. Montecito is the first collection that we developed as a collaboration. John De Bastiani, with his elegant and relaxed vision, was the perfect partner for this adventure.
How do you envision designers using this collection?
The Montecito collection eludes the separation between indoor and outdoor spaces. With its natural and warm palette, high-performance and unparalleled softness, it can be used to give any space a relaxed and elegant style. Be it a family room or an outdoor patio, Montecito will create a sophisticated and carefree environment.
Can the collection be customized? What kind of options are possible?
The whole collection can be customized, as at our mill in Biella, Italy we control the whole production process from yarn sourcing to design, weaving and finishing. Designers share their request, so that we can proceed with the development of a graphic CAD model. Once that is approved, we produce a strike off. After approval of the strike off, we can plan the new production for a minimum quantity of five yards. The whole process is flexible and fast, with our team of artisans and craftspeople working to meet the designer’s needs.
What was the collaboration with John like? How did you work together, and what was the development process?
Our collaboration was born out of friendship. We met John three years ago in L.A. and we just instantly liked each other, our visions on design being so complementary. We also share the same roots, quite impressively: His family has Italian origins, and used to live in Biella, our home. We knew we just had to create something together. The Montecito collection was the perfect occasion to celebrate our friendship and channel our visions. The whole process lasted around a year, with us and John sharing inspiration and envisioning the perfect way to turn these ideas into reality on the loom. It was a fascinating journey.
Do you have any special memories or experiences working on this together?
The whole experience will always hold a special place in our professional and personal journey. The Montecito collection was born out of a friendship. It’s always the people we meet, together with the things that we create together, that make a difference and leave a mark.