The founder of influential design magazine Cabana talks pregnancy and her eclectic style
To be an Italian, says design entrepreneur Martina Mondadori Sartogo, comes with certain genetic predispositions. There’s the love of food and family, of course, but there is also an in-built appreciation of the beautiful things in life. “When you grow up in Italy,” she tells me on the phone, “Even if it’s a totally unconscious process, you make it all yours, the colours, that richness.” Martina has made it hers, and – through her sumptuous interiors magazine, Cabana – everyone else’s too.
The aim with the magazine, she says, was to establish a new aesthetic – “this Cabana world” as she calls it – which could translate into a series of objects for the home that can be purchased through innovative pop-up stores or online sales. Everything – from Gucci chairs to antique pieces – is filtered through her own expert taste. But the whole project starts and ends with the biannual magazine which in itself seeks to be a thing of physical luxury. The cover is in fabric, there are different papers used inside – it’s a sensual feast of a product – and the idea is for it to be a collectible item, the kind of magazine you keep and display as you would a beloved object or book. Throughout, Martina’s particular taste becomes clear: rich in pattern, colour, vibrancy. And full of surprises.
The same goes for the entrepreneur’s sense of fashion. “There’s a common thread,” she says. “There’s always a big mix. I’ve never been a fashionista looking for the latest trends. I clearly love looking at fashion but I pick things and mix them with a vintage piece. But there’s always colour and always patterns and always this mix and layering.” In pregnancy, there’s no change – Martina is now pregnant with her third child, a girl after two boys, and is practised in the art of dressing as her body gradually transforms. “At the end of the first trimester your trousers don’t fit, then it’s not until the end of your second trimester that your bump really explodes and you think, ‘Goodness, what to wear now?’” Her answer? “Normal clothes!” She relies on staples of jeans, colourful loose tops, silk pyjamas, and – for those last few full-bellied weeks which this time will be over the summer – kaftans. True to her Italian roots, she reaches for Missoni tops and Valentino for more structured dresses.
And what about life after birth? With two children already, Martina knows precisely what’s in store and is sanguine about the effect of a new baby on a frantic working life. “There’s no magic formula,” she says. “You really have to play it by phases. That’s one thing I’ve learned in my other pregnancies – you cannot plan everything in advance. Once you learn that lesson you don’t panic, and you don’t become stressed.” Instead of trying to do everything, this time she’s looking forward to turning on her out-of-office for three months, and switching off any guilt. “As with everything in life it’s a matter of managing expectations, with other people but especially with yourself.” She laughs, in recognition of the ability to sound deceptively calm before the impending storm. “I might be going ballistic by the time my daughter is three weeks old! The key thing is to remember to take time for yourself: massage, acupuncture, music, whatever fits.” Her parting advice is beautifully simple: “If you feel well, everything around you manages to work.”
In Her Words
NINE LONG MONTHS OR NINE JOYOUS MONTHS?
Goes through phases but joyous overall.
HIDE THE BUMP OR SHOW OFF THE BUMP?
HYPERACTIVE OR CHILLED OUT PREGNANT WOMAN?
Hyperactive but this time I’ve really looked forward to collapsing on sofa and I did it and I’m happy I did it!
WHAT DO YOU MISS THE MOST WHILE PREGNANT?
I miss some foods – I’m Italian, I miss my salami and my bresaola. And my waistline. At some point I have to get it back.
ONE THING YOU COULDN'T LIVE WITHOUT WHILE PREGNANT?
A massage once a week.
YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGNERS FOR EXPECTING?
TOP TIP FOR OTHER PREGNANT WOMEN?
Don’t think you’re superwoman.
IF YOUR PARTNER COULD CARRY THE BABY, WOULD YOU LET HIM?
BOY OR GIRL?