Today’s home is an extremely inspiring living space. Situated in a hidden corner of a quiet road in Al Safa, between very charming old style villas and a nice park, it feels like a step back in time. A clever blend of italian design pieces, as the green velvet Gio Ponti chairs and sofa, with contemporary fabrics and wall coverings; obviously filled by art, since its owner Bebe Leone is an italian art curator and advisor, always on the go between family duties and her work, promoting contemporary Italian artists in Dubai. We met on a Monday afternoon, with her little newborn baby of two months and her beautiful elder daughter Nora – the middle boy Bernardo was outside – and while she was explaining me all her decor choices and I was almost afraid to step on the gorgeous round carpet with my shoes, Nora was gracefully jumping on the iconic Jean Royère polar bear couch, something that clearly she never does since she’s “the big one”, but…it’s kids, right? You can see that Bebe has a strong aesthetic sense and a true sensibility for beauty. It is all reflected in her distinctly personal decor, a delight for the eyes of a decorator: the stunning pale pink walls, chosen from Benjamin Moore colour collection, the fabulous bamboo desk in her daughter’s room found at The Odd Piece, which she describes as “exactly what I was looking for”. She follows me around the house while I was taking the photos, talking about the stories of all her objects and pieces of furniture, where they were coming from, and how she chose them. Inside this home you breathe a pinch of an italian countryside house with a strong sense of family history.
Who is inviting The Sandy Side at home today?
Bebe Leone, art curator and advisor, mother of three.
In Dubai since 2012, I have been advising my clients selecting works tailored to their needs and style, with an unique taste and genuine sensitivity to the artistic requirements of each environment. As an independent curator I actively promote contemporary Italian artists and designers in Dubai.
I am also the founder of the cultural webzine The Heritagestudio and a contributor to Artribune.
Tell us the story of your home, why did you choose it?
I really loved this neighbourhood with plenty of very charming old style villas surrounded by trees. It is one of the greenest areas in Dubai, and after living on the Palm for a few years, I was missing greenery a lot.
I love the old charm of this house, with marble flooring and arched ceilings, features that are quite difficult to find in Dubai and that reminds me of the houses in my country, Italy.
How would you define the style of your home?
Italian for sure. And vintage inspired.
Did you have already an idea of how to decorate your home? Very planned or more impulsive?
I had a rough idea, I always loved a style inspired from the 50s and pastel colours. But I could not properly choose the furniture and the colours until I moved here and got the right vibe from the house itself. Once I stepped inside I realised what I wanted; I actually started from the Ours Polaire style couch by Jean Royère in dark green velvet, paired with the Gio Ponti sofa and armchairs. I have added some contemporary pieces like the coloured floor lamp from Servo Muto, a Milan based design studio that combines historical and classic lamp forms with modern prints and special fabrics. I also fell in love with these contemporary designer’s carpets from CC Tapis, and I chose the pink leaves wallpaper for the entrance that goes beautifully with one of the carpets. The palm trees print of the curtains is french, from Pierre Frey, they have gorgeous fabrics. I have combined some modern items with family pieces, see the old desk from my grandfather’s house below the Hassan Hajjaj artwork, and a traditional solid wood bookcase in the studio that we have brought from Italy, after having cut it in half to let it pass through the window of our previous London flat! My bed also comes from my mother’s. If not planned my decor choices were very much thought through, it took time and it’s not over yet!
Where does your passion for interior decoration comes from?
It’s a family thing. My mother is an interior designer, she helped me make some choices for this house, and my father used to paint as a hobby. As a child I spent a lot of time with them in antique markets in the South of France and I loved it, I still do.
Is it easy to combine nice decor and and family life?
Not always… you think it will be easy and natural, but it’s not so simple. My husband is not as passionate as I am about art and decoration and when I find him biking in the living room or the kids jumping on my velvet sofa it’s painful! And let’s also add the cat that yesterday made his nails on one of my new carpets.
Where do you find inspiration?
I always read a lot of interior magazines and I follow the designers I love on social media.
What is your favourite object in your home and why?
Can I say painting? Its a 2×3 mt painting by an amazing artist and good friend, Roberto Coda Zabetta. It’s an abstract oil on canvas with great personality, a hero piece, hanging in my dining room. I had to think the interior of both dining and living having it in mind…
What is missing in your home?
A chandelier for my dining table! Lights for me are the most difficult things to find. I have in mind a scandinavian design piece, but I didn’t find it yet.
Working as an art consultant in Dubai, what kind of pieces are the most appreciated here?
Galleries here support a lot of artists coming from the GCC. Which makes sense because the idea is to make Dubai the cultural incubator for the Gulf region, so i would say arab art is the most appreciated. If I have to recommend a local artist I would say the young Emirati female visual artist Zeinab Al Hashemi, that has recently exhibited at the Louvre Abu Dhabi in a group exhibition organised by the Emirati- French Cultural Program.
Do you think the Dubai market is more open to Art or Design?
I would say Design but the art market is expanding too. Definitely Italian Design is much more appreciated and well known than Italian art here.
Tell us about an arab object that you have found here and it is now essential in your home.
I don’t have one! Most of my furniture comes from Italy. But if you mean a piece that I bought here, I love the bamboo desk in my daughter’s room. It comes from The Odd Piece, one of my favourite design gallery in Alserkal Avenue.
In which room do you spend most of the time?
In the kitchen!
Any decoration tip?
Do not underestimate the importance of art when decorating your space. As you can see in my house there are artworks on every wall and as I said there are some that completely directed the decoration of the room in a way that it would have not be the same with a different art piece. The big canvas in the dining room has been a key for its decor, and I have artworks hanging in every room, also in the kitchen and in the bathroom. I think you can really upgrade your space if you buy a good piece of art!
One address to recommend in the city?
Comptoir 102. Being vegan is one of my favourite restaurant, and it has a great selection of decor items too.
DECO NOTES from Bebe’s addresses in Dubai
The Odd Piece: http://www.the-oddpiece.com/
If you are a design lover, here you will find the best pieces in this city
For sustainable handmade accessories and furniture
Home and Soul: http://homeandsouldubai.com/
A lifestyle concept store that blends furniture, fashion and design