‘A touch of luxury in life can provide a wealth of happiness’ says creative director and Bonadea founder Gemma Martinez de Ana. Spanish born London based, Gemma has always been attracted to beautifully made things. Discover her advice on tabletop, her recent collaboration with Fabergé, what’s on her Christmas wishlist and more on today’s conversation.
Anna Moody photography.
You have recently designed four collector boxes for Fabergé to mark their exciting collaboration with Legado and Rome de Bellegarde. Where did the inspiration come from for these one-of-a-kind pieces?
These four unique works were inspired by the legendary journeys of the three houses, from East to West, which ran in parallel through the 1900s and started with Fabergé in St Petersburg.
This beautiful city and the works of Peter Carl Fabergé were my starting point. I had the opportunity to see the world’s largest collection of Fabergé works when I travelled to Russia and I wanted to look at this rich past and combine historical references to create an imaginary journey that was romantic and poetic.
Each of the four collector’s boxes connects the pieces inside and their different worlds to create a cohesive story between the heritage of each house and their future legacy.
The London box, designed and produced by Gemma Martinez de Ana. Anna Moody photography.
St Petersburg, Cognac and Barbados boxes. Anna Moody photography.
Which part of it did you enjoy the most? Which one was the most challenging?
For me, the initial stages of research and the possibility of combining different materials was very exciting. In particular, the idea of blending something humble from nature like straw with precious gemstones was irresistible. I worked with an incredible team of experts at Fabergé who set the precious stones we used in the designs.
The boxes were entirely made by master artisans in England using eight highly specialist skills, so unique artisanal craft was very much at the heart of the project. To bring the painterly designs to life we used truly artistic marquetry techniques done entirely by hand, so with over 100 hours of painstaking handwork to lay the straw for one box alone, the biggest challenge in the process was time.
Detail of a moodboard created by Gemma for the design of the boxes
As the founder and creative director of Bonadea, you are well known for your tabletop passion, when did this start?
I fell in love with tableware as a young girl playing with my grandmothers’ collection, and I was always fascinated by the beautiful patterns found on porcelain and crystal.
Even at a very young age I would save my pocket money to buy something beautiful rather than candy, but still I never envisaged making a career out of it.
I also remember my childhood big family lunches and dinners with particular fondness, and those memories are of great inspiration. I love entertaining and I love storytelling, and am passionate about creating the perfect table settings for my guests.
Glassware, tray and coasters part of Bonadea collection.
What would be the one staple you would recommend to splurge on?
Cutlery, it’s definitely worth investing in a good quality and beautifully designed set.
Not only will it last generations, but a good quality set of cutlery will make any meal special and elevate any table setting, just in the same way a good handbag or pair of shoes will make an outfit.
I am crazy for bamboo these days!
Gemma’s favourite bamboo cutlery.
What are the key ingredients to a beautiful tablescape?
I very much love layering, using colour and mixing family heirlooms with new pieces.
When I am hosting, I always take into consideration the occasion, the menu and my guests as a starting point, and the only rule I follow is that of laying the individual pieces correctly, then a pretty plate, floral touches, candlelight and a nice bottle of wine will do the rest!
What’s the best souvenir you’ve brought home?
I love anything finely crafted and during a trip to Japan, I found the most incredible tea bowl in Kyoto and lacquer pieces in Kanazawa.
Although my family would probably argue the best souvenir I ever brought home was Tokyo banana cake, and matcha kit-kat also from Japan.
What’s on your Christmas wish list?
Many books, a silk pyjama set and Pinto’s orchid Plates…hopefully Santa is listening!
‘Histoires d’Orchidees’ dinner plates by Alberto Pinto available at Bonadea
Thank you so much Gemma!
For the most exquisite tabletop selection visit http://www.bonadea.com