The List’s Project Spotlight column features unparalleled projects created by our forward-thinking List members. By going straight to the source—and having the designers demystify the methods behind their designs—we hope to enlighten and inspire our creative audience to further push the boundaries of what is possible in the realm of design.
North of the arch in the boot that is Italy lies the ancient, still bustling—and achingly gorgeous—city of Matera. Called la città sotterranea (“the underground city”), its central Sassi di Matera districts are a beehive of caves, cisterns, and dwellings carved right out of the rocky mount that forms the city.
Using some of the stone chambers that have served as homes for the locals for three millennia is Ai Maestri Rooms&Cafè, a suite of spaces opened in 2015 that turns worn, weathered walls and new build-ons into a warm, welcoming hotel and boîte. Spare and minimal to take full advantage of the rare materials that form the hotel, Ai Maestri’s decor demands much of the pieces that make it up: simplicity, timelessness, luxuriousness, and an appreciation of ancient craft. Meeting these demands was Northern Italian furniture brand Billiani, which provided the sleek and smart rope-back chairs and barstools for the hotel’s rooms and café.
Below, the staff of Billiani explain how the firm responded to this unique space with pieces we want in our homes just as much as we want to visit la città sotterranea.
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