Sultana started his career as the creative director of the London-based David Gill Gallery, who pioneered the collectible contemporary design market. There, he was exposed to the best and most innovative, radical design, learning color and textures, history and craftsmanship, while gradually shaping his passion, talent, and taste. His love for Surrealism, largely inspired by Edward James, the famed supporter of the Movement, has resulted in a unique language which has a strong surreal energy, mixed with references to the vernacular and oriental fabric of Malta. In fact, it is that narrative, the combination of Baroque, Surrealism, and Orientalism, which has been synonymous with Sultana's personal vocabulary and aesthetic sensibility.
The type of interiors which he creates must be experienced firsthand because of their complexity and the attention to details, textures, colors, all of which can be hardly captured in photography. I had the rare opportunity to visit one of his interiors last summer when visiting the island of Malta. We were invited to the palazzo, which Sultana and his partner David call home. It is situated at the heart of Valletta, Malta's capital and UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is defined by distinctive long, narrow streets along which grand homes of limestone facades and traditional green balconies are standing. You cannot guess what is hidden behind the identical facades, and this is the dramatic surprise that Sultana envisioned when creating his home.
This palazzo was built in the 16th century as a home for a member of the Medieval Catholic Military Order of the Knights of Malta. After acquiring the building, which was vacant for decades, Sultana spent a decade restoring it to its original grandeur, turning this old structure into a majestic house, where the contemporary meets the baroque, and where the locality, the Mediterranean essence of Malta and its rich and ceremonial history are referenced in every corner. This is an example of a contemporary gesamstkunstwerk, a total work of art, where architecture, interiors, and all they contain are integrated to form a harmonious whole.
The book Francis Sultana: Designs & Interiors, published by Vendome is ultimately an inspiring story of dreaming big, of making dreams come true, and of living the dream life.