Ana Andjelic is senior vice president and global strategy director for Havas Lux Hub.

When it comes to design, everything happening in Italy is noteworthy.

After all, “creativity is about artistic vision, crafting vigor and exuberant vitality — all natural traits of Italians,” claims Umberto Angeloni, chairman and CEO of Raffaele Caruso.

Milan itself has always been known for its highly crafted and handmade products, which are at the same time contemporary, creative and innovative. But in fashion design, the city has recently seen a boom. Case in point: Milan Fashion Week 2015 was the most prosperous ever.

The same is true of furniture design. Milan is seeing a renaissance, driven by the values of inconspicuousness, transparency, sustainability and meaningful consumption. Not since the 1980s and early ’90s — when The Memphis Group defined the era’s postmodern lines — has the market seen such change.

Likewise, there’s a generational turnover in interior design, with new, young and fresh designers infusing the industry with creative vitality, curiosity and innovation  — and garnering fans and recognition in the process.

A week before the annual Salone del Mobile, otherwise known as the Milan Furniture Fair, I spoke with two of them — Cecilia and Elena Maresca, the creative duo behind Maresca Interiors — to uncover what defines modern interior design today.

Why do you love design?
Getting into the world of interior design happened to us as a natural step on our career paths. Like most Italians, we have ingrained in our culture and upbringing a very defined sense of aesthetic. The attention to the design world and its devotion to details was also inherited from our mother, an archaeologist and restorer of Japanese lacquers. Finally, the passion for Brazilian modern furniture is fueled by our family’s ties with this land, to which our ancestors immigrated at the beginning of the 1900s.

Where do you think today’s most creative ideas come from? How is this different than in the past?
To be creative is the ability to observe, reflect on the observations and then make meaningful connections. In today’s world, more than ever before, the only way to separate oneself from the rest is not with the fancy resume or the GPA one has attained. It is how well one thinks for themselves and actually uses their own creativity to separate themselves from everyone else. Creativity today has changed not just in terms of accessibility, but in the way that is considered a major asset and is highly valued in the corporate world.                                                    

What are the most exciting things happening right now on the global design scene? Who is leading them? Who has the most power?
Due to influence from multicultural exchange, global economical flows and communication technologies, the new ways of architectural and urban organization are by far the most interesting and exciting things happening in terms of design today. The raising of new eco-cities and the reshaping of big metropolis into socially harmonious, environmentally-friendly and resource-efficient places to live opened a new dimension in the design world. Different players are on the forefront, like Norman Foster and BIG.

If you had to describe your business in three words, what would you say?
Timeless. Sophisticated. Fun.

What is a good marketing strategy in a world with so much creative output? 
Find your niche and work your way into mainstream from there, or not.

What are modern design connoisseurs willing to pay for today? What are they looking for?
Quality. Design. Uniqueness.

What are you offering to global design connoisseurs that they can’t find elsewhere?
Our studio specializes in designing, directing and implementing interiors for residential houses, and sourcing mid-century Brazilian furniture. As I (Cecilia) had worked for years in the fashion and design fields myself — as PR for some of the top fashion brands and e-commerce sites (such as Vivienne Westwood and farfetch.com), and my sister Elena had been an interior designer for London’s coveted firms Waldo Works and Russell Sage Studio, Maresca Interiors epitomize our DNA: a mix of exotic elements of Brazilian modernism fused with the timeless elegance of Italian design. We bring a new aesthetic on the table that is influenced by our ‘wild’ Italian-Brazilian roots and our passion for mid-century furniture that we source from both countries.

Is there a common thread that connects the products they make?
The rich and sensually textured hardwoods, the grace and simplicity of the design and their overall uniqueness.

How do you see your business evolving?
Our goal is to become a point of reference in Europe for Brazilian modern design’s dealing, as well as to create a very solid trademark style.  And, who knows? Maybe one day make our own furniture.

What do you personally fall in love when it comes to design?
Quality. Design. Uniqueness.

Images via wallpaper.com