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Restored Casolare in Puglia

On Location in Puglia with Joseph Gardner

For the launch of our beautiful new Mojave collection, we worked with Interior Stylist and Design Consultant Joseph Gardner to bring a very special shoot to life in a lovingly restored Casolare (farmhouse) in Puglia. The property belongs to Australian expats Maree and Ian Coleman who were first drawn to it for both its beauty and historical significance; originally built in 1883 and later used as a school, it was abandoned in the 1960s. When the Coleman’s friend and architect Andrew Trotter showed them the site, the prospect of restoring a character-filled Casalore with a long history to its former self seemed like a once in a lifetime opportunity.

We were keen to honor its history and mirror the heritage of the building. We worked with local builders, craftsmen and artisans to restore the Casolare. These craftsmen and artisans used old techniques to maintain a sense of history. Our painter, for example, made his paints by cooking local rock in a wooden oven and mixing it with oils to create a beautiful color and texture that worked back with the building’s age and original look.” says Ian.

Now that Mojave is out in the world, we took a moment to catch up with Joseph to talk about putting the shoot together and what he enjoys most about spending time in this sundrenched part of the world.

Hey Joseph, can you start by telling us how you first came across the villa and what made it the ideal location for this shoot?

Our close friends the Coleman’s had been working on this project with Studio Andrew Trotter, and we got to watch the evolution from afar. SAT projects just have that beautiful pared back aesthetic that felt really in line with campaigns I had worked on previously for Armadillo.

My partner and I were going to spend a few weeks over summer 22 with the Coleman’s so thought…why not throw a shoot in the mix! Armadillo were totally on board and went to great lengths to make it a reality.

What were some of your considerations in the lead up to the shoot and what kind of preparation was required?

Look, getting 20-something rugs sent from both the U.S. and Australia in time for this was no small feat, but we did it (just). We all had a few sleepless nights and lots of back and forth with Italian customs to make this happen. Special shout out to Maree and Ian and SAT project manager, Luca Baldazzi! It was all hands on deck.

Once my partner and I landed in Brindisi, we were straight into a hire car and out grabbing props, zooming around the wild Apuglian roads. We sourced a lot from a beautiful store in Cisternino, Le Icone, which I highly recommend everyone adds to their Puglia shopping list.

Can you run us through how the shoot unfolded and some of the highlights from each day?

Working with incredible photographer Marina Denisova, whose work I have always admired, was definitely a highlight but I have to say, the spread of local produce that the Coleman’s served us all for lunch was the number one! We took a proper break in the middle of the day, and ate al fresco under the ancient olive trees… not a regular day on set for an Australian creative.

What do you enjoy most about spending time in Puglia and what are some of your favorite places to visit?

Puglia is so wild and raw, a truly authentic Southern Italian experience. First tip is, you must have a car to drive around to visit the different regions and swimming spots.

Visit the amazing Baroque town of Lecce, we often stay there and use it as our base as it has more of a buzz, than the more rural parts. We stayed a few nights way down South this time at Palazzo Daniele which I would definitely recommend and there was a fantastic seafood restaurant a short-ish drive away called Taverna Del Porto where we had a great long lunch with friends.

We also chartered a small boat one afternoon from Santa Maria di Lueca, which is a perfect way to see the coastline and watch the sun set. Our favorite beach club was Cala Masciola, which is attached to the Borgo Egnazia resort. The restaurant there serves up incredible fresh seafood (make sure you pre-book this and a sun lounger in high season).

What do you find most interesting about working with jute, both as a styling tool and as a functional object in a home?

I love working with jute for its pared back, casual nature. It’s not precious and feels raw and so good underfoot.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to incorporate a jute rug into their own space?

Jute is a good neutral base for any interior - it will relax a more formal or contemporary space and sit perfectly in something primitive or more coastal in style.

Lastly, what are you most looking forward to for 2023?

More travel. My partner and I will be returning to Italy, France and Spain this year…another shoot? Stay tuned!