A room of my own Part II: Joe Zito on his childhood home in Yorkshire

Joe Zito | Spina Design




On Friday, Robbie Spina of the design studio Spina – the company that made tassels and tie-backs a must-have luxury item – harked back to his first room in London. Today, his business partner Joe Zito recalls to his childhood attic bedroom in his family home in Yorkshire…





“My family home was a Victorian villa in Yorkshire and my bedroom was a spacious attic room with lots of nooks and crannies. This was a disused part of a large house so as a 16 year old teenager I converted it into ‘my private little suite’. I tried to create a different feeling in each nook, divided by dramatic curtains that I would find and recycle from any relative (or indeed any discarded item I could lay my hands on). I made most things myself, apart from the bed. I even made my first tiebacks with leftover wool (my mum was an ardent knitter!) and I made scarlet plaits which I used to hold back some finely patterned red curtains. To suspend the curtains I twisted rusty metal tubes to form a U-shape and then used a matching rusty-looking pole to suspend it all from. The contrast was great and I was so proud despite adverse comments from my siblings! I had shiny linoleum with fake faded Persian rugs, I carefully taught myself to hang wallpaper and I had different patterned wallpapers on each wall, getting the gist about complimentary ways to match pattern and colour combinations.

To add an unusual  spot of  colour I remember a turquoise bedcover, which was like a an exotic island amidst the more austere colours of the room. As a young artist, my walls were littered with sketches, doodles and empty frames that might come in handy later on with a bit of gilding or lacquering thrown in!

Tiebacks by Spina Design  The Chromologist

Tiebacks  Spina Design  The Chromologist

“Lighting was my passion. Not only did I make the ceiling lights out of recycled glass balls but I started a small collection of table lamps as light sculptures. I would mix wrought ironmongery pieces (fire poker holders!), with anything glass and I would place transparent glass bowls with inverted bowls, layering different sizes and glass styles together. I would try to be my own electrician and persisted despite the odd electric shock! In the end I had a very oddball collection of my own pieces. Lighting sculpture | Spina Design | The Chromologist

“I loved my room so much and that was important since I spent so much time in it studying for exams. It was spacious and organised with a sensible corner for my desk and my books – another passion. I collected books at any given time from car boot sales, from neighbours that dumped them by the bins and so on. I repaired them when necessary. I also spent all my pocket money on buying the great classics, one at a time, which I adored.

I have retained this passion for things! I might minimise their importance in a space, but I think there is a place for everything. The fun is in placing objects together and making them harmonious, to personalise, to be creative and always bring in a touch of the exotic or unusual, that lifts you from the mundane.

Gargantua Tassel | Spina Design | The ChromologistJoe and Robbie assembling the world’s largest tassel

“Loving this styling and creating for interiors at an early age, it brought me in touch with like-minded people, whether they were friends or relatives and then later, clients. I found that in my self-expression it gave me a confidence, one I would share with people like Robbie Spina who I then began working with at Spina design. This underlying freedom and fresh approach where anything is possible always means I have to add a touch of humour to anything I am working on. My style remains fundamentally the same, but I feel it naturally flows and evolves with the encounters and opportunities that life brings. Whether that comes from a trusting client with a special commission, which encourages you to go to the next level and beyond, or a collaboration with some gifted individual who encourages you to create the world’s largest tassel!”

Jill Macnair


Jill Macnair has worked as an interiors journalist for 13 years, contributing to titles including Elle Decoration, The Sunday Times and The Guardian. She set up cult interiors blog My Friend’s House in 2009 with Ros Anderson and continues to run the forum daily.

The Chromologist 2019 | Farrow & Ball

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