Design Talk: Etereo Design
Founders Mirko and Stefania infuse luxury residences in the GCC with Italian design sensibilities.
Words by Laura Cherrie Beaney in Design & Architecture · Aug 2nd, 2022
Specialists in luxury residential design and architecture, Etereo Design, invest their international projects with an Italian design imprint and insiders’ knowledge gathered during a decade spent in the Middle East. The passion project of Mirko Sala Tenna and Stefania Digregorio, refined craftsmanship and a sense of modern luxury inform their sumptuous environments. Regional high points include the striking Pietranera, Segreta and Petraviva projects.
Stefania’s background is in luxury architecture and interior design. She’s passionate about cultivating soulful spaces that spark creativity while award-winning designer Mirko is preoccupied with Italian-influenced handwork and the nuances that speak of supreme quality. We sit down with the duo to discover how life between Italy and the Gulf has shaped the Etereo Design dynamic.
Mirko: Etereo Design specialises in luxury residential architecture. We are a studio, which we consider to be an atelier, made up of a team of 10 passionate architects and interior designers. Our scale allows us to select the projects that inspire us and follow them in a dedicated and bespoke way. We create homes adapted to our customers’ needs; working with them from ideation until construction. We design everything from the home’s exterior to the application of technology inside and micro-details such as the stitching on the sofa. It’s a truly tailored and intimate process - our comprehensive creations reveal a different design story every time.
Stefania: Our respective backgrounds have helped us on our journey in design in the Middle East immensely, Mirko and I bring with us comprehensive knowledge of materials and craftsmanship absorbed from Italy. We both grew up close to major furniture production destinations; this immersion inspired a passion for design and educated us on the processes from an early age.
We take inspiration from everything and everywhere. Our love for exploration never ends, we research during our travels. In California, for example, we explored Estonian-born American architect Louis Khan's masterpieces, an interaction which later lent influence to one of our designs.
Mirko: Italian architect and designer Claudio Silvestrin remains one of my most powerful influences thanks to his inspired use of natural materials and the way that he enhances his spaces in a warm yet minimalistic way.
Nature is another great source of inspiration. As Italian artist, designer, and inventor Bruno Munari suggested: “When the artist observes nature... it is as if nature communicated, through the sensitivity of the artist at that moment, one of its secrets.”
Stefania: Architecture, cinema art and music are constant modes of inspiration. I appreciate symbolic works of absolute beauty, which are at the same time capable of carrying a visionary message. I find this dynamic most pronounced in the work of Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer and in the cinematic output of Italian director Paolo Sorrentino.
Etereo proposes modern Italian style identifiable by thoughtful material combinations and timeless aesthetic. In the MENA region this is a highly sought-after and appreciated approach to design. In-depth research into the potential of materials and a desire to create beauty are our guiding forces.
Mirko: Scale differentiates our work in the UAE from prior work in Italy. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are rapidly expanding cities with vast areas under development and expansion. Consequently, housing units are typically much larger than those in Italy and Europe.
Stefania: Another difference is the climatic conditions. Before approaching Dubai, we were used to designing environments that protected the occupants from the cold, but here it is the complete opposite. Consequently, our selection of materials and our approach to design adapt to these regional specificities.
Stefania: We consider ourselves to be a young studio - the eldest team members are not even 40 years old! Dubai certainly is a place full of potential, especially for the emerging generation. The city supports its youth in expressing themselves fully and reaching their potential. This environment creates a climate of positivity and a ‘can do’ attitude in the communities of architecture and interior design.
Post-COVID there has been a collective realisation that our homes play a fundamental role in our existence. If you're looking to uplift your environment consider how it might contribute to your lifestyle. If you have the opportunity in your home I would advise you to maximise the spaces dedicated to nature - both indoors and outdoors. Beyond this, I recommend that you create dedicated spaces where your passions and hobbies can play out.
Mirko: We’re moving into an exciting time at Etereo. We are currently working on 12 projects, and three super villas that will reach completion by the end of the year. We have been working on two beautiful villas in Emirates Hills and Jumeira Bay. Our most exciting project is a 5-star boutique hotel on a small Greek island. The client wants to build 10 super suites overlooking the sea. We also are working on an exciting futuristic project. A client asked us to draw out his first space in the Metaverse. It will be a virtual welcoming point for businesses - labelling it ‘an office’ would feel reductive.