Stone and olive trees, the recovered charm of the 'masserie' of Puglia

Andrew Trotter's trip through Puglia, Italy, has now lasted almost two decades.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
14 May 2024 Tuesday 10:32
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Stone and olive trees, the recovered charm of the 'masserie' of Puglia

Andrew Trotter's trip through Puglia, Italy, has now lasted almost two decades. This British interior designer based in Barcelona, ​​ended up in the southern region of La Bota eight years ago, accompanying an Italian friend who was looking for a masseria to renovate.

From the intersection of vicissitudes between what was found, its proposal and the regulations of the place, a new construction that points to the vernacular finally emerged. And everyone who visits believes that he has always been there, that he belongs there. It is the Masseria Moroseta, a bed

Since then, Trotter has completed seven houses in Puglia, including renovations and new floors. And he continues his love affair with the region. It is the peripheral vision that we humans have that gives entity to the architecture and interior design that comes from Studio Andrew Trotter. That enveloping atmosphere resulting from the connection of all materials and elements. Of what is appreciated by the set of senses and the primal experience.

The use of local sandstone, called tuffo, in walls. Its ancestral finish painted with white lime, which protects it and allows the wall to breathe. The shelter under vaults and arches, with traditional construction techniques that the artisans of the area know well. Chianca stone floors with textured slabs. Or the polished cement and terrazzo coatings. And furniture that combines second-hand pieces from the countryside, with natural fiber rugs or linear sofas dressed in linen. Essential atmospheres where the predominance of white, beige and brown colors permeates almost everything. “For me – Andrew Trotter explains to Magazine – this is peace. If you have a house like this and a field in front of it, it is peace.”

Among his latest projects is the renovation of the Casolare Scarani house, a building that housed a school in the 19th century. Abandoned since the 1960s, its traditional masseria style but with the dimensions of a small villa makes it unique.

What traditionally defines the masseria in Puglia is being a country house dedicated to agriculture, with a physiognomy of resounding prismatic volumes. A wall usually closes the entire area and behind the entrance gate there is a patio, once used for field work. A structure that is also reproduced in Trotter's first work, Moroseta, although with a certain abstraction of the most representative elements.

Among Andrew Trotter's discoveries in Puglia, the recent remodeling of Casa Soleto, a 17th-century house in the town in the Salento region that bears this name, is of particular significance. He acquired it for his own enjoyment, along with Marcelo Martínez, his studio partner for a few years.

They were seduced by the façade with baroque details of a small palace and an interior frozen in time, with two unexpected chapels. Located in the old center of the town, with a patio and garden, in this project the tones of the interior become darker, an earthy brown. And under its original pointed vaults, simplicity acquires a majestic accent.

“The projects we do – specifies Andrew Trotter – for me are not minimal, which could be said to be very clean. But simple architecture and interior design, where there are many textures. And also the presence of vaults as a very charming element. It's not pretentious architecture, wow. But I am very interested in the details.”

“Something that represents us as a studio – says Marcelo Martínez – is that we always communicate to the owners the desire for maximum freedom. We do the architecture, the interior design, the furniture. “We want to have a say in everything.” The reception of their proposals has earned them new clients from all over Europe, who settle there, commission second homes, or rent them when they are unoccupied. At this moment they are embarking on a dozen more projects in the area. Although they also develop others in places around the world such as Greece or Jamaica.

Andrew Trotter's life journey seems linked to discovering houses, opening them to people, sharing them. When he settled in Barcelona thirteen years ago, he converted his own space on Fontanella Street into a gallery. More than 4,500 people passed through there. And together with Mari Luz Vidal, photographer and roommate, he founded the biannual magazine Openhouse. An exquisite publication with collaborators and international distribution – and a preferred place in museum bookstores – that is published from Poblenou in Barcelona.

Puglia continues to hold great appeal for Andrew Trotter. “I like the atmosphere there, the people, the food, the fish, the vegetables... It is an area with a lot of vitality. And with a growing community of creators.” Although it is not his only current focus. With a nomadic spirit, Trotter studied interior design in Australia and worked for a few years in London in Anouska Hempel's studio. Friends and the chance of life settled him in Barcelona. And now he points to Mexico among his predilections. There he has recently presented his first collection of furniture with volcanic stone. “I love the country. Mexico is experiencing a high point in architecture and design. And they are very open people.” Although he continues to see Barcelona as a good base, a bridge between that country and Italian Puglia.