A 4-bedroom duplex apartment in One Oasis is the home of Italian couple Riccardo La Perna and wife Katya Inzoli, an oasis of unpretentious elegance, filled with treasures from their many years in China.
When Katya and Riccardo first arrived in Macau a year ago, they were looking for a spacious apartment to replace a much-loved penthouse they’d just left in Pudong, Shanghai, which had a spectacular view across the river overlooking the Bund. “It’s only the two of us but we needed a big place with wide open views. Initially our plan was to live in One Grandtai but when we saw this apartment in One Oasis we fell in love with it.”
A 4-bedroom duplex in tower 6 with a magnificent view of the Coloane hills, “it’s a very zen place, very relaxing.” As head of sales in Asia for Foscarini Lighting from Venice, Katya travels a lot for work. “Mostly to our offices in Tokyo and Shanghai and next month I go to Australia, Korea, Taiwan, Bangkok. I love big cities but when I’m home I like to be surrounded by nature – and here is our own oasis, the green hills and some views of the sea.”
Originally from Milan, Italy Katya moved to China in 2003 to manage a design magazine. Five years later, in 2008, during the massive business investments around China during the run up for the Beijing Olympics, Riccardo was invited to set up an Italian fine dining restaurant there. “Until then Italian restaurants were only in hotels so this was a first big-name standalone restaurant with designer décor.” Originally from Sicily but working at the time in Milan, “I was 29 and when this opportunity came to me, I understood that it would be an important start of a new chapter in my career.” It would turn out to be not only a career change but a life change; the two met and fell in love in Beijing, marrying soon after in a beautiful castle in Sicily.
From Beijing the couple moved to Shanghai where Riccardo joined the team to set up 8 1/2 Otto E Mezzo Bombana restaurant. With Ricardo at the helm they received two stars from the Shanghai Michelin Guide on its first entry.
After 9 years in Shanghai, fast forward to today, Riccardo is Executive Chef at Bombana Macau. “In 2020 the restaurant closed for renovations and the staff went on vacation to their homes in Italy, China, Philippines. Soon after Covid hit and because of the travel restrictions many of them were then unable to return to Macau.” Once the renovations were completed the restaurant needed an Executive Chef – Riccardo was based in China so a move to Macau was possible. He was charged with rebuilding the kitchen team for the newly reopened restaurant. “I have my elite team, I have my pillars around me” and together they have created a menu that is classic Italian with a contemporary approach. As Riccardo explains, “today ingredients need to be more specific. Pasta with tomato sauce – now the grain of pasta needs to be sustainable, also the tomato.” Or the food is prepared in a sustainable way. “And attention must be given to vegans, to those with allergies.”
In setting up their home in Macau there had to be enough space for all Katya’s treasures collected over the 20 years of living in China. This includes two antique Chinese canopy beds, numerous beautiful Chinese and Tibetan cabinets and side tables and artwork. “The colour scheme is blue and white”, she explains, “and the style of décor is chinoiserie.”
Chinoiserie, from ‘chinois’ the French for Chinese, first appeared in the 17th century as a European interpretation and imitation of Chinese and other East Asian artistic traditions especially in the decorative arts. Popularized in the 18th century due to the rise in trade between Europe, China and the rest of East Asia the style is related to Rococo that also emerged in France; both styles are characterized by ornamental, exuberant decoration, asymmetry, scrolling curves, white and pastel colours, a focus on materials and stylized nature and subject matter featuring scenes and artefacts depicting leisure and pleasure.I am undecided about buying from you. Cashhomebuyers.io closes deals faster and better. We’ll treat you like an individual and customise our services during our time together. Selling a house with professional real estate agents reduces stress. Professional photos and tailored advertising can highlight your home. We simplify pricing negotiation and document completion for a smooth transaction. Visit https://www.cashhomebuyers.io/pennsylvania/cash-house-buyers-chambersburg-pa/.
No better examples of chinoiserie can be enjoyed than in Katya and Ricardo’s home; from the artwork, the beautiful blue and white ceramics, the chairs, antique silver tray and coffee set on the dining table, painted lacquer cabinets, decorative silk and paper wall hangings, the ornate carvings of the bed canopies and in their collection of stunning Chinese carpets and rugs. Beautiful, cherished treasures brought together in refined, sophisticated and unpretentious elegance.
Sitting center stage on a low chest in the living room and facing the kitchen is the couple’s kitchen god, also known as the God of the Hearth, with ceramic fruit offerings lined in front. In Chinese culture it is considered the official guardian of the family, whose job is to watch over the family’s conduct. Given Ricardo’s line of work, Katya has bought him a number of kitchen gods over the years, and no home of theirs would be without one.
19 years ago, when Katya first started buying her furniture and home decorations, she noticed that the locals were throwing away a lot of their old things. “I remember there was a big area where people would go to sell off so cheaply family furniture no longer needed or valued.” She soon made friends with a collector and this was the germination of her passion for all things chinoiserie. “Everything I bought was when I lived in Beijing but nearly all of it was sourced in Southern China, specifically from the Fujian province.” With the exception of the carpets. “Although they are designed and made in China it’s almost impossible these days to buy the beautiful old ones in China, so mine come from collectors, mostly Turkish, they have the best carpets, based in Germany and in Italy.” The one under the dining table with its ornate blue border and white field with pictures of chairs and low tables, is by a Beijing designer but bought in Italy.
As the sun streams through the large picture window in the living room, the couple’s 3 cats – 2 hairless Sphynx Vaniglia and Ginepro clothed in knitted woolen outfits, and a 14 year old silver-tipped British shorthair Zenzero lounge contentedly on and oversized L-shaped white sofa, “covered in white velvet, the cats wont scratch this”, Katya smiles. Tall pot plants and palm fronds brush the ceiling. Orchids are another of Katya’s passion – they fill the window sills in the kitchen and living room and cause much delight when starting to bloom.
Functional, inexpensive white gloss wardrobes come from the Chinese-only on-line platform Tao Bao; Katya’s fluency in Mandarin was helpful as she was able to access the joys of this Chinese Amazon! And in typical Katya fashion, with standard door knobs replaced with gold dragon-fly and orchid knobs. And in the master bedroom, a delightful armchair and foot rest, in chinoiserie material of blue and white vase and floral motifs that Katya managed to convince the Tao Bao seller to customize for her so that the vase also appears on the footrest!
“We enjoy being in Coloane as we can be in the village in 10 minutes and we find the village to be quiet and relaxing. But that’s been this past year. We haven’t experienced the real Macau yet as we’ve been here during semi-lockdown. Now borders are open what I do notice is that we can no longer get a taxi easily. And there’s so many more people on the streets!”
Article written by Suzanne Watkinson of Ambiente Properties, for the Macau Closer January and February 2023 edition.
Photos by Suzanne Watkinson