In the 1960s, Count Rafael Neville travelled between the French Riviera, Corsica and Sardinia, on a quest to find a vision from his dreams: an inlet set among rocky crags, the green Mediterranean scrub, majestic maritime pines and a sea in a magical shade of emerald. As if taken from a novel, this is how the story of Porto Rafael starts, the village built facing the archipelago of La Maddalena by an eccentric nobleman.
A unique, captivating place that encapsulates the beauty of the Mediterranean, its nature, its architecture and its traditional craftsmanship: the place for a very special home. This stunning setting provides inspiration for the essence of many Ethimo collections.
In 2019, a truly singular project was set up, thanks to an encounter with the multi-faceted creativity of Paola Navone. Collaboration driven by reciprocal esteem and this designer’s ability to interpret places and emotions, translating them into architecture, form, materials, and design.
It was the first step on a journey that with inspiration, vision and sharing, led to renovation of the home in Porto Rafael, while maintaining its original spirit and, especially, its links with its natural surroundings.
A journey that began with exploration of the rich local traditional heritage, discovering materials, processes, and craftsmanship skills that could contribute to the creation of “a natural organic home, where everything led back to the sea and the flavour of Sardinian tradition, reworked with an adventurous spirit.” (Paola Navone).
This renovation project also inspired Paola Navone to create a family of furnishings, designed specifically for this very special home. And this was also the birthplace of the Rafael collection by Ethimo, a design concept with a cocoon effect and uneven profiles. Tables with ancestral, irregular shaped tops, in marble the colour of the sea or lava stone. Comfy chairs and daybeds with structures in brushed teak, metal staples and fabrics designed by Paola Navone herself, these too inspired by the colours of the waves.
Every single element that went into making this house is the outcome of painstaking work, from walls to accessories, like the collection of plates for the table that, thanks to its design and colour, tells of this amazing, authentic bay in Sardinia.
Porto Rafael is a project within a project, a special chapter in a story that continues and that draws its inspiration from nature to become international design.