Interview with vignette designer Alessandra Branca

The San Francisco Fall Show is thrilled to welcome Alessandra Branca as one of the vignette designers for the 2019 show. Her eponymous company Branca is a full service, boutique interior design firm. Internationally celebrated for interiors with an inviting flair, its founder has classicism running through her veins—her signature style born of a Roman childhood, nurtured through 30 years of experience. Branca blends color, pattern and texture with an abundant sense of joy, a little wink and the wisdom to make it all work in perfect harmony. Her interiors are livable—designed to reflect and soften our complex worlds. What unifies her work is an overall sense of balance—and the practical magic she casts, turning houses into homes.

In anticipation of her vignette, we’ve asked Alessandra a few questions:

How did you first become interested in antiques? As a child in my grandparent’s home… and then as a teenager in Rome walking Via Giulia and via del Babbuino which used to have the most amazing antique dealers. I have not really stopped discovering new things and periods and styles which is the best part of life.

Are there any specific historic periods that you are drawn to? All periods and styles excite me. I tend to love earlier furniture mixed with some more modern pieces. Both periods have as much appeal and creativity. The earlier baroque for instance concentrated on making the useful beautiful, using materials and form to transform something as simple as a stool or chest into a spectacular object and then the mid century period, which I mostly discovered and fell in love with later on in the United States, also made more edited sculptures of useful items, both aiming to create and transform day to day items.

In your interior design work, what is your approach to incorporating art and antiques? It is a very fundamental part of every interior. I see furniture and decorative accessories as spices that can be incorporated into a space to give it life as well as play the contrasts for visual interest.

What was your most favorite/memorable art/antique find? Or alternatively, can you tell us about “the one that got away”? I loved many of the pieces from the Wrightsman sale many years ago, as well as the Yves Satin Laurent/Pierre Berge sale. The quality and exquisite taste were extremely inspiring. There is nothing like a wonderful collector’s point of view to redefine the way you look at something and there have been so many incredible collectors and collections to inspire, mesmerize and make us yearn. Those that got away never worry me as I know they found wonderful homes, all part of the trip that a piece must go through…

What most excites you about coming to the San Francisco Fall Art & Antiques Show? I used to live in San Francisco and have come to the show numerous times and love it. I am excited to see the different presentations as well as those new and unusual pieces that could possibly fit in my projects whether in San Francisco or anywhere else for that matter…

How do you walk the show? What are you looking for? Any tips for shopping the show? I tend to walk through once to get a quick view of all booths then I go back to see specific items. Surprisingly I have a list of items I am always looking for for projects but occasionally there is that wonderful surprise of an amazing piece that I need to find a home for. Clients love when I am excited about something and tend to be like me in being as excited with something new and special!

Finally, the theme of this year’s show is “Wanderlust” – What is your favorite travel destination? And what country/place is at the top of your travel wish list? I travel an enormous amount as we have homes in various places, including in my hometown of Rome. We always make an effort to go somewhere completely new at least once or twice a year. I think we can cannot grow if not through the challenge and surprise that travel offers. New destinations and cultures are always a way to expand your sense of who you are and continue to define who you are. I am excited to go to Vietnam as well as Peru, both at the top of our list right now.

Thank you Alessandra – and see you at the show!