Good Design with Michael Del Piero

Michael Del Piero is renowned for curating interiors with rich textural contrasts and an extraordinary sense of balance. She shares her thoughts on good design, her personal inspirations and the philosophy behind her new book, Traveled and Textural.


Photos: Richard Powers

Your work is characterized by a sense of balance–spaces that feel highly curated yet thoroughly comfortable. How do you walk that tightrope?

Michael Del Piero: Balance is a key element in our work.  It’s in my nature to seek balance and a filter from which I view everything when designing a space. Balancing a casual, approachable and highly curated interior is easy when the elements include heavily textured elements and weathered finishes, which generally speak to a casual vibe. When selections are warm in their own right—even in a sparsely filled space—they maintain a mood of approachability.

As a world traveler, can you name a few places you’ve found infinitely inspiring?

MDP: I find inspiration in the everyday, so travel brings enormous opportunities to see life in new ways.  The "everyday" I find in another country or culture is inspiring simply by virtue of being different from what I’m used to. The Japanese, for example, have a unique and special way with ceramics. You can almost feel them creating the piece when you hold them in your hands.  I’m a huge fan of vessels so my visits there are filled with inspiration (and purchases).

I’ve always loved the Netherlands. The Dutch have such a gift when it comes to artistic expression.  I find my tastes align with so much of what I see on the streets of Maastricht—sculpture in gardens and galleries—and of course, the classic Dutch painters such as Johannes Vermeer bring a soulful expression to their work. I return again and again to find my heart filled with happiness and my mind filled with ideas—and sometimes a container of antiques. And Tel Aviv for the food!  Not only is it the freshest, most flavorful produce I’ve ever tasted, it’s also bright with color. Colors more spectacular than you can imagine and all natural from the earth. I love this. 

“It’s in my nature to seek balance and a filter from which I view everything when designing a space.”

Michael Del Piero
Good Design

Your book, “Traveled and Textural”, is broken into four general sections: Relaxed, Refined, Rough and Restrained. Why those particular distinctions?

MDP: There is a thread of relaxed, refined, rough and restrained in all of our work. When I looked at common elements found in every project, I came up with those distinctions as a way to describe our signature style. 

Certainly some work is more refined, yet has rough and relaxed elements throughout, just as a project with a more rough interior shows enormous restraint.  I think it’s our “special sauce” to use restraint and still create enough warmth to be inviting and enough visual interest to hold one’s attention. 

Why do you feel it’s important to capture and convey a strong sense of culture and history through your design work?

MDP: More than a desire to incorporate history and culture into our work, I have found my personal attraction to that which has been used and well-loved by others makes its way into our interiors.  I believe it’s the patina and essence of a piece which fills the space with immeasurable soulfulness, allowing even a minimal interior to feel comfortable and familiar. Frankly, I can’t help myself! 

“I have found my personal attraction to that which has been used and well-loved by others makes its way into our interiors.”

Michael Del Piero
Good Design

What about the future? Design trends can be ephemeral. What are some timeless elements you think your clients will always look for in their spaces and homes?

MDP: We all (hopefully) assess our own work and when we do, we must find a way to critique and also love what we have created. When I do assess our project work, that of which I am most proud is how our interiors stand the test of time. Our clients are not trendy. They want timeless, great looking and comfortable homes because they are busy. I believe, our clients will always request thoughtfully laid out spaces with comfortable seating and dramatic art—elegant, but not overdone.

Most importantly, interiors that feel like home. 

Traveled and Textural

"This book loosely divides Del Piero’s projects into four sections: Relaxed, Refined, Rough and Restrained. The result is a collection of understated, soulful interiors rich in texture, culture and history that reflect a confident new voice in American design."