As a first-generation Italian American, interior designer Frank Ponterio spent a month every summer with his family exploring the beaches and small towns of Southern Italy, often fitting in a trip to the major metropolises of Venice or Rome. It was on these visits when he observed the attention to detail and sense of pride the Italians took in fabricating everyday features like a chimney or a handmade door handle. “Everything is beautiful and well thought-out. It’s a true Italian’s approach–whether in an artwork or how pavers on the city streets are laid. There is pride in the craft,” says the designer.
Some decades later, the essence of those qualities are on display in Ponterio’s debut collection with Arteriors: a 28-piece compendium of mirrors, lamps and accessories that honors his Italian heritage with a modern perspective. His white-oak Salotto Cabinet, the crown jewel of the collection, was inspired by a pair of bronze doors at the Villa Necchi in Milan. The cabinet beckons with front panels wrapped in vellum and punched with decorative cut-outs offering a glimpse of what’s inside. “We gave so much attention to that piece,” says Ponterio.
Still, the collection isn’t all romance and history. The designer drew on his grittier, more urban upbringing in Chicago for many of the pieces, including the Joey Tray, inspired by a childhood acquaintance, who was “a little rough around the edges,” says Ponterio. “I was playing with thick- cut hide and how to join the corners. The idea of brass studs came to me, and I thought about adding another accent–brass knuckles–to it. I sent it to the Arteriors team and said, ‘You’re going to think I’m crazy, but here’s what I want to do.’ It’s an urban nod to Chicago.”
Blending approachability with luxury is a hallmark of Ponterio’s work. It’s also one of the qualities that attracted Arteriors to collaborate with the designer. “Many pieces are rooted in Frank’s love of entertaining, and in his philosophy that the home should be a welcoming and inviting place,” says Mark Moussa, founder and creative director of Arteriors. “At the same time, he is unwavering in his appreciation for materials of the finest quality.”
For a designer who finds comfort in a moody cocktail lounge and a breezy, beachside locale, it’s apparent his collection reflects both sentiments. “There are two sides of me–the really urban guy and the guy who loves the coasts. It goes back to Italy,” says Ponterio. “I like mixing things that are rugged with those that are a bit more refined.”