October 4, 2019 | News | No Comments
It’s no surprise Edo Mapelli Mozzi is in the headlines. The entrepreneur recently announced his engagement to Princess Beatrice, thrusting him into the international spotlight and ushering in a new era as a member of the British royal family. However, it’s on the design scene, since founding his property development company Banda in 2007, where he has been making the biggest waves.
At only 35, Mapelli Mozzi has spent the past decade or so giving property development his own distinct twist. With “young, aspirational owner- occupiers” in mind, Banda has taken old buildings around London — from former breweries and bakeries to an old Art Deco garage — and not only redesigned them with generous lateral living spaces and all the latest mod cons; but, more crucially, committed to revealing complete homes only when the very last finishing touches, right down to the coffee mugs in the kitchen cupboard, are in place. “The majority of developers invest in just enough design to sell something off-plan — we look to getting the quality right from the very start because we know buying into one of our developments is an emotional decision,” Mapelli Mozzi says. “We care about where the electric sockets go and if the guest bathroom is the right size.”
Much of Mapelli Mozzi’s background in design and architecture has been learnt “on the job”. While studying politics at university, he started buying small properties in London then reselling them as converted flats. During summer breaks, he interned at property banks and property legal firms “but none of it had that creative flair that really excited me,” he says.
So at just 23, Mapelli Mozzi went out on his own, aiming to bring “cool, relevant design” to the gap in the market between super high-end luxury developments and the “white boxes” of mass-market new builds. By contrast, each of Banda’s projects has, he says, been defined by the building rather than the area. “For example, I wouldn’t buy a building without the right light. It has to suit the people we think will want to live in it once we’re finished.”
Banda’s latest development is the 13-19 Leinster Square project in central west London. Behind the façade of a Grade II-listed stucco-fronted row of seven Victorian terrace buildings (formerly a hotel left to ruin), Mapelli Mozzi and his team have reconfigured the original spaces into eight apartments, five maisonettes and two penthouses, some with outdoor terraces.
Here, in one of the light and airy south-facing apartments, the mood is cool, calm and collected, much like the developer himself. The soft palette of greys and white, matching the colours he happens to be wearing the day we meet, speaks quietly of refined elegance. Each room is infused with Mapelli Mozzi’s penchant for a mix of old and new, an aesthetic that is at once both sensuously modern and texturally handcrafted, with echoes of “an authentic, lived-in feel”.
Tactile natural materials like oak, marble and brass give the space gravitas; an abundance of sunshine and leafy green views from the garden square opposite filter through the floor-to-ceiling windows, adding a soul-soothing breeziness. Most of all, the apartment feels deeply personal, purposely designed with furniture, artworks, even Le Labo candles, so as to appeal to someone who can literally turn up with a suitcase and move in.
To this end, Mapelli Mozzi has applied his well-honed eye to everything from the apartment’s generous proportions with 3.4-metre-high ceilings and beautifully restored Victorian plasterwork to the banks of storage cleverly hidden behind sleek joinery and full-length mirrors. “Minimising the detailing brings a sense of balance and cleanness to each space, allowing the architecture and spatial planning to shine through,” he says.
Craftmanship is celebrated through choices such as vintage Pierre Jeanneret and Joaquim Tenreiro cane chairs, the richly patterned marble Mapelli Mozzi hand-picks on trips to Italy and the kitchen designed by third-generation Belgian company Obumex. “I’m drawn to pieces which tell a story, whether it’s the journey of where its material has come from or the person who has made it,” he says. “I might have the big design ideas but it’s the thousands of hands, from Banda’s design team to our many craftsmen, that have brought it to life.”
The moment Mapelli Mozzi looks forward to the most is when potential buyers walk through the door. “They come in, not quite knowing what to expect — as they move around the space, I watch as they rub their hands along the side of the marble or feel the solidity of a door handle. I can see them happily imagining how they will live in the space. I love that.”
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