Books

You’ll See Why Martina Mondadori Has Unleashed ‘Cabana’-mania

A sitting area from Cabana Magazine

Think of Casa Cabana (Vendome), the new book from Martina Mondadori, as an elegant, urbane talk show where guests pop in and out to charm and inform — more Dick Cavett than Kelly Clarkson. The subject is how to entertain in style, something Mondadori, the founder of Cabana Magazine, knows cold.

Cabana’s biannual print publication has a cultish following among design lovers; older issues, if you’re able to find them, are collector’s items that can cost a small fortune. And for her new volume, Mondadori has invited her high-profile, highly tasteful friends — decorators Michael Smith and Robert Kime, photographer Miguel Flores-Vianna and others — to contribute advice, reminiscences and recipes. 

Colorful patterned wallpaper
This patterned wall pictured in the new book also appears in Mondadori’s The Interiors and Architecture of Renzo Mongiardino: A Painterly Vision (Rizzoli).Photo © Guido Taroni.

The book, filled with sumptuous photographs printed on extra glossy pages, boasts a forward by Aerin Lauder, of the lifestyle brand Aerin as well as the family business Estee Lauder. She writes that Mondadori’s aesthetic is “an unapologetically lavish counterpoint to an often minimalist, sterile world.”

True enough, but the world — via the pandemic — delayed the making of Casa Cabana, at least for a while. “The really interesting thing is how the book changed during lockdown,” Mondadori tells 1stDibs. “Those extra twelve months allowed us to add images, remove some and bring it to this final edit, which is exactly what I had envisioned.”

The additional work paid off. Beyond the beguiling interiors pictures — in particular those capturing the hypnotizing pattern-on-pattern richness Mondadori has made her signature — there are practical takeaways in the form of recipes (check out fashion illustrator Angelica Hicks’s vitello tonnato).

Leave it to Smith, in his one-page meditation on what constitutes good entertaining, to come up with a memorable analogy for its primal appeal. “A dinner party,” he writes, “is just another version of gathering around an ancient campfire, with all the ceremony of a tribal feast.” Readers, dig in.

Front cover of Casa Cabana
Casa Cabana (Vendome)

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