Get Alessandra Branca talking about color and the pace becomes waltz-like, her voice honeyed. As she walks me through the luscious palettes of Into the Woods, the second collection from her eponymous home brand, Casa Branca, I decide to abandon my interview prompts and just enjoy.
We begin in a sea of mossy green swatches, a colorway she describes as “a play on the classics but updated with pops of acid.” Next, we’re onto pairings of powder blue and chocolate brown. “I love yin-yang, male-female coloring,” she exclaims. “We never see enough of this combination, and it’s so chic and wonderful!” And finally, we move into reds, a signature hue of the designer’s. “It’s fun; it’s pop; it’s cool,” she muses, adding, “Red keeps you coming back.”
As with Branca’s first collection, the designs—which span fabric, wallpaper and a growing breadth of home furnishings and accessories—are meant to be mixed and matched, interwoven with future collections and shopped by color story. They’re also deeply influenced by travel. This round, the designer drew inspiration from a fantasy brief particularly well-suited to the times. “I love Italy’s Sudtirol, and I’ve been wanting to do an old Tyrolean-style, A-frame mountain house in a fresh way,” she says. “The question of ‘What can I do to update that lifestyle?’ is really what this collection is about.”
Such pointed wanderlust resulted in patterns like Verdure Camo, a riff on the popular 17th-century hunting tapestries that Branca reimagined and spunked up by fusing traditional motifs with camouflage, and Audrey, a 19th-century archive print reimagined with bulbous blooms of exaggerated scale and named after Little Shop of Horrors’ leading character. Rounding out the collection, a medley of Branca takes on faux bois, tartan, stripes and peacock marble, as well as solids in teddy-like mohair, creamy cotton velvet and stalwart linen, create a cocooning ethos that does seem to tap into some primordial, back-to-the- woods version of luxury.
Fortunately, the still repose of the past year didn’t hinder the designer—who describes a perfect Saturday as one spent amidst a stack of books—from developing the second installment of Casa Branca (available now) in the throes of the pandemic, not to mention, successfully launching the brand last June. “I didn’t have to go far,” she says. “I literally walked around my life. That’s where this all came from.”
Inspiration begetting inspiration, I begin researching the Italian part of Tyrol I knew little about before meeting Branca—and aching to redecorate.