Design House: Valentina Piscopo's eco-friendly retreat

The founder of Kuky Design has incorporated her love for natural materials into her Arabian Ranches residence

05 May 2022, words by Janice Rodrigues in Design & Architecture

Valentina Piscopo - KUKY Design
Minimalist tones, a calming colour palette, statement furniture, sustainable materials and a thriving garden with local plants. These are just some of the things that stand out in Valentina Piscopo’s chic Arabian Ranches home. The interior stylist and founder of online interior design platform Kuky Design has a soft spot for calming spaces and timeless furniture, and she has incorporated these elements into her house. She walks us through her villa to prove that sustainability can find a place in every nook and cranny of a home.

Valentina: Growing up, my dad was a creative and my mum very good at decorating homes, so ever since I was little - I was fascinated by art. Everyone thought I’d be an artist, and I signed myself up for boarding school in England when I was 16 to study art. It made me realise that what I really loved was curating spaces. So, when I got a job for a furniture store in Dubai, that’s how my design journey began. I love the creative aspect of homeware. I would say that Dubai shaped my design style. My work is designed for this beach city - with a lot of neutrals hues, and a very coastal theme.

Valentina: If I could sum up my design aesthetic in three words it would be warm, easy and minimalist-ish. It’s a reflection of my personal style and personality; I mostly dress in monochrome and my interior colour palette is always made up of neutrals, I am approachable and laid back and I love simple, easy and beautiful designs.

Valentina home Arabian Ranches | LUXHABITAT
home Arabian Ranches | LUXHABITAT
home Arabian Ranches | LUXHABITAT
Valentina home Arabian Ranches
KUKY Design

Valentina: My home incorporates my signature all-white and neutral aesthetic which I have combined with furniture pieces made of natural materials. The vintage wood with its asymmetry and knots, the travertine table full of character, and the bamboo day bed hand-bent in its imperfect shape all help to achieve a cosy, warm and lived-in look that suits my family. We are very informal, and despite the chaos of having two giant dogs and a toddler running around the house, my home still feels very calm. That is of paramount importance for me as I could not live happily in a loud environment. 

Valentina: My favourite item in the house is probably my travertine round dining table. It's been designed by me and made locally in Dubai. The beauty of this natural material, which is used everywhere in Italy, lies in its imperfections and in the asymmetries found on the stone surface.

home Arabian Ranches | LUXHABITAT
home Arabian Ranches | LUXHABITAT
home Arabian Ranches | LUXHABITAT
home Arabian Ranches | LUXHABITAT

Valentina: When it comes to my collection of furniture, most of it is designed by me and made locally. The natural materials and the raw colours allow me to re-decorate my house over and over without ever having to discard anything or buy new things which is great as everything holds sentimental value to me. I would rather buy less, but get neutral pieces that never go out of style. I don’t really understand people who throw out furniture and start over every time they move houses. You can recycle furniture much more than you think.

Valentina: Sustainable furnishing is an umbrella term that spans hand-made or fair-trade furniture that is made with low environmental impact materials such as bamboo or rattan. Buying such pieces also helps support local craftsmen. It's why I work with a lot of artisans in the region, using locally-sourced stone or gravel. With such a wide range of furniture readily available today, it should be everyone’s priority to buy more sustainable homeware.

 Valentina: One place I really love is the garden. It's been designed with Will Bennett from landscaping boutique Wilden. It is a wild gem, if I may say so myself! Having sustainable pieces inside the house, it only felt right to carry that look into the garden where you are greeted with the most elegant desert bushes, flowering trees and local gravel, and a simple round fire pit that brings everyone together during winter evenings. It is a very laid-back outdoor space. When I close my eyes, I almost feel like I am camping in the desert. I think what Wilden and Kuky have in common is that we both look at our environment and use it as a starting point for our designs. Both celebrate and embrace the natural beauty around us. After all, we live in a beautiful region!

home Arabian Ranches | LUXHABITAT
home Arabian Ranches | LUXHABITAT
home Arabian Ranches | LUXHABITAT
home Arabian Ranches | LUXHABITAT

Valentina: I think a common mistake a lot of clients make is buy a property and want it to be furnished all in one go. The best result comes from projects where you go at your own pace, where every purchase is well-thought out. That goes back to championing sustainability for me. I want to fill a house with things that you love and make sense for your family, as opposed to just getting one set from Pottery Barn! 

Valentina: If they want to achieve something similar to my aesthetic, I’d say: neutrals, neutrals, neutrals. A lot of clients worry that it looks one-dimensional but that’s where textures and contrasts come in. There are a million shades of whites and beige and grey and brown. You want to layer these materials and colours to create a room that’s cosy, inviting and warm.

Images credit: Natelee Cocks