In the three years that Tessa Vermeulen, the founder and designer of Hai, has lived in London’s Stoke Newington neighborhood with her husband, Gennaro Leone, they’ve renovated and decorated their flat according to their (very exact) shared vision. “We have the same taste,” Vermeulen says. “We both like the same things.”
And after nearly a decade of living together, Vermeulen and Leone, the founder of the home-design store and gallery Spazio Leone, have also accumulated most of the necessities. But the couple — who are planning their “big Italian ceremony” in Leone’s hometown of Naples later this month — found a few opportunities when putting together their registry to request some special, sentimental items they’ve long wanted. “Because of the occasion, we’re like, Okay, maybe now’s the right time to get those things,” Leone says. Plus he says they’re looking to move into a bigger house, where they’ll host friends in the garden — and eventually start a family.
Tessa Vermeulen: That’s our favorite smell: Santa Maria Novella. It’s an old pharmacy brand from Florence, and [we’ve loved it since] the first time we went to Florence together. Gennaro had been to the shop before, but I hadn’t. We always put it in little bowls in every room, so we always need more of it.
T.V.: That’s another scent we love, like Santa Maria Novella. They’re both very old school. We both have quite an obsession with scents, so whenever we’re in Florence, we go to Santa Maria Novella. Whenever we’re in Paris, we’re like, Okay, I’ll come back with a bagful of Buly things. We have some other scented things in our house, but this is a cube we haven’t had before. I saw it in the shop in Paris, but I only bought the items we usually get from Buly. So it would be nice to have something different for the house.
[Editor’s note: Officine Universelle Buly lists prices in euros, so the price shown here is an approximate conversion to U.S. dollars.]
Gennaro Leone: Portugal is one of the best [countries] in Europe — after Italy, of course. Actually, I was there last week, and I brought some soap back with me. I’ve just been collecting soaps. I love the nostalgia and smells that bring me back to a time, like when I was with my grandfather.
G.L.: We’re planning to get a bigger house, hopefully with a garden. This friend of ours, who lives just a couple of blocks away, has this same pizza oven, which we chose for the functionality and because we know how it works. When the weather is good, we have a pizza party with some wine in the garden. We’ve been dreaming of this summer with friends, when we can bake. It’s the idea of gathering with our friends in the garden while making and sharing pizzas that makes the oven special for us.
T.V.: We love hosting, and I love making a nice tablescape. Right now, we just have a mix-and-match of antique cutlery that probably needs a good silver polish, which I never do. I remember when Gennaro was sourcing the set for a client, and I was like, Wow, it’s so beautiful.
G.L.: Lino Sabattini was one of the revered Italian silversmiths of the 20th century. We love his work and would love to have his set to use every day. I kept it on one of my wish lists and was like, One day you’re gonna be mine. And turns out the set is still there.
T.V.: We both love books, especially design books.
G.L.: Tessa has a shop in Seoul [where I went to], Post Poetics, a curated bookshop. [The sales associate] showed me the architecture-and-design section, and I was very impressed. Gerrit Rietveld is a Dutch professor and designer, and it was a big regret that I didn’t buy that book while I was in Seoul.
T.V.: We have a few already, but we need more. The designer is our friend. She makes them by hand and hand-paints the beads. They’re very beautiful, and I love how they fit in our house. They are the most useful coasters: I have one under a vase with flowers; I have one under a candle. Gennaro uses his for coffee every morning.
G.L.: The coffee maker was presented for the 100-year anniversary of the Alessi group and designed by the late artist Riccardo Dalisi. He’s a big connection with what I do and to Napoli. He moved to Naples to teach architecture at this university where I used to hang out. His style is also very aligned with what I do at Spazio Leone.
G.L.: My brother is a chef, and he wouldn’t like it if you had a bad knife. Plus, I eat a lot of bread with peanut butter every morning. There is a nice shop on the high street here called Kitchen Provisions, and the selections are just incredible. Just having a chat with [co-owner Tom Saunders] — his knowledge is incredible — he recommended the knife to us because we eat a lot of bread. He mostly sells Japanese knives, and he’s got all these big opinions about things.
T.V.: We have some of their bedding already in a light blue, and now we’re asking for white. The line has nice colors and nice 100-percent-cotton, lightly stonewashed fabric. They’re extremely comfortable and soft; it feels like you’re sleeping in a hotel bed. Plus they’re easy to wash. It’s an actually useful gift.
T.V.: We saw them for the first time in Positano at the hotel Le Sirenuse. Like, every drink you get is out of this $200 glass. They’re so beautiful, but I’d be so scared to drink out of them and break them. But we’ve wanted them for years. It has this nice memory of being around the Amalfi Coast.
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