Many accomplished artists have the ability to master multiple disciplines. Rita Motta is such a person. Furniture, interiors, jewelry, pillows, carpets, wallpaper, and whimsical playhouses are the canvases on which she expresses her design aesthetic—a mix of the classical and modern with an eye to the fanciful.
“I really like to make things. I am constantly involved in it,” said Rita.
Born and raised in Tuscany, Rita studied architecture and interior design at university. She also learned furniture-making, drawing on the centuries-long tradition of Italian cabinet-makers. Her resume includes work at an architectural firm in Milan for seven years followed by several years in fashion at the Missoni flagship store on Madison Avenue. In New York, Rita met her husband Michael Perez. The couple moved to Miami, where Rita was employed for five years by architect and interior designer Alison Spear.
Just a few years ago, Rita and Michael opened their company Mr. O (named for Michael, Rita and their son Oliver). Rita is the company’s designer, and together the couple creates custom interiors and objects that include furniture, jewelry, hardware, rugs, bags, and textiles. Michael is the chief art director. His background in fashion illustration and high-end sales complement Rita’s designs.
A recurring theme in Rita’s body of work is inspired by the effervescent quality of bubbles. Bubbles encrust her furniture designs, wallpaper pattern, and carpets. The pattern was first used on a number of her furniture pieces. At the 2012 Design Miami, she collaborated with the Tai Ping company to create her three-dimensional silk and sculpted wool carpets. Rendered in vibrant solid colors like violet, magenta, and citron, with different bubble patterns from which to choose, the carpet is available in various rug shapes such as circles, squares, and runners.
Most recently, Rita has been designing and making unique necklaces that can be described best as an abbreviated Elizabethan neck ruff. Forms that arise from bubbles, flowers, and feathers are shaped in polymer clay, colored and/or gilded and then massed onto a thick ribbon that ties at the back. Each piece is handmade by the artist. The shapes are pleasing, and it is the kind of jewelry that travels comfortably from complementing an evening gown to accessorizing a tee shirt and a pair of jeans.
Three-dimensional model-making is something that many architectural students learn to do as part of their studies. Often made of foam core or thick paper, the models help in the conceptualization of a building project. Rita uses her understanding of this process to design children’s playhouses in wood that are large enough for the child to sleep in (“Happy Little Villages”). She also designs wooden doghouses and small-scale tabletop models with the same open-work structures she uses for the playhouses. The airiness of the lacy patterns is akin to fretwork or “gingerbread” once seen on nineteenth century houses and gazebos, yet imbued with Rita’s flair for modern design.
When asked what is on the horizon for her Rita responded, “Jewelry and textiles.”
To learn more about Rita Motta, visit her website at mister-o.net or contact her at [email protected].