STORY FRANCESCA DAVOLI / LIVING INSIDE PHOTOGRAPHY FABRIZIO CICCONI / LIVING INSIDE SPEC CHECK RESIDENT Marco Semeghini, former art director of Tom Ford and director of sales for Gucci Men LOCATION Florence, Italy SPECIAL FEATURE Years ago, Semeghini was staying at a friend’s house in Mumbai, where he fell in love with a beautiful black-and-white picture of a girl from the Russian suburbs. His friend told him about the German photographer who shot the portrait, and Semeghini arranged to meet the artist as soon as he could travel to Berlin. The portrait is now showcased in his living room. Marco Semeghini is in his element. The former art director of Tom Ford and director of sales for Gucci Men has lived an elegant and sophisticated life, and it shows - not just in his pleasant and refined demeanour, but also in every corner of his beautiful, cultured home. Semeghini, who now teaches at Marangoni University and other fashion institutes, has spent considerable time creating the perfect haven in Florence, Italy. It took several house changes before he finally settled into this space. The apartment, situated in a former convent of the Sant'Ambrogio district in the heart of Florence, captivated Semeghini with its otherworldly charm. He saw in the home a sort of estrangement, a sense of rapture, the strange feeling of being in an exquisite place that could belong anywhere in Europe - and he realised it matched his personality perfectly. Semeghini was personally involved with the home's restoration, and the process was at times a difficult one. "I made a few errors," he admits. "But all in all, I'm satisfied, as I got to see my house turn into exactly what I imagined. [For better or worse], it matches me." While developing the interior design, he took inspiration from two of his primary interests - reading and travelling. "I have a constant craving for books," he explains. "I can't control myself and keep buying too many of them - definitely more than what I can read, though I have a pretty good pace. Then there are art books, the big passion of my life, which I [collect in hopes of] becoming a real expert on the subject] some day, and not just the enthusiastic amateur I am today." This comes as no surprise to the guests lucky enough to get a peek inside Semeghini's home. Books permeate the beautiful space, lining the shelves in front of the dining table, not to mention from floor to ceiling in the living area and in the open loft area on the second floor. The exquisite sketches and stunning black-and-white photography speak to his love of art, while the unusual collectables and ornaments are testament to his interest in travelling the world. Semeghini admits that he has a terrible memory, and buying the exotic pieces of fabric and objects during his travels is the best way for him to keep his memories of those places alive. Considering the number of items he picks up each time he goes globetrotting, he says he's amazed at what he managed to fit into his simple hand luggage. Nevertheless, he has never let something trivial like packing difficulties stop him from collecting mementos. "It may be a professional bias," he says. "But I have a real passion for fabrics, especially handcrafted pieces. They are imperfect but carry their own story and emotions." These fabrics, which hail from Eastern Europe and other parts of Italy as well as Turkey, Egypt, India and Morocco, create eye-popping splashes of colour in the airy apartment, which is decorated in soothing shades of white and grey. The other items on display, ranging from objets d'art to sleek design furniture, are all there for a personal, intimate reason. Semeghini says there is no object in his home that isn't connected to some memory or a loved one. Some items - the Fornasetti plates, Coptic crosses and processional statue - took a while to hunt down, while others, such as the photos by Ingar Krauss, were ones that he fell in love with at first sight. With so many fascinating and welcoming nooks in his home, it may surprise some to find out that one of Semeghini's favourite ways to relax is by perching on the stairs. "It's not the most comfortable position," he laughs. "It could be that I like to see things from above … [or] maybe, after a long time of wanting to settle down, now I feel like [being in a space that is] transient." The need for fluidity is certainly a hallmark of Semeghini's character, a side that he readily embraces. "For now, I'm satisfied with my job, which is indeed fascinating: I've always worked in the fashion industry for important brands such as Gucci and Tom Ford. This profession gave me a lot of energy, together with the chance to meet many people and to travel," he says. We don't know what will come next in Semeghini's ever-changing, ever-interesting life, but whatever it is, we can be sure that it will be artistic, creative and full of beauty.