These Sicilian Vases Will Make You Feel Like a Guest at The White Lotus

Ottolenghi pays homage to the Testa di Moro in his latest collection for Serax

December 5, 2022 6:49 am
ottolenghi for serax testa di moro vase with flowers
Those ceramic heads all around the fictional resort are based off Sicilian folklore

If you’re watching season two of The White Lotus, you’ve probably noticed the colorful ceramic heads adorning the resort’s guest rooms. They’re hard to miss because they punctuate a lot of scenes, and the character Ethan asks White Lotus employee Rocco about them in the first episode. 

If you need a refresher, the ceramic heads, or Testa di Moro, tell the tale of a Moor man who arrived in Sicily around 1100 AD. He fell in love with a local girl, but when he told her he had to sail back home where his wife and family were waiting for him, she cut off his head. While Rocco stops there when explaining the folklore to White Lotus guests, the story also says that she planted basil in the Moor’s head and displayed it on her balcony. In modern Sicily, Testa di Moro are popular terrace adornments — so much so that they inspired The White Lotus creator Mike White to work their mythology into the show.

“There’s so much classic mythology about sexual jealousy and the sexual politics of men and women,” White told Variety at the season two red carpet premiere. “It just felt like, maybe that should be more of the theme [this season].”

ottolenghi and serax sicily vase collection on a blue and yellow background

Sexual jealousy aside, this season’s Sicilian setting is giving us inspiration for everything from vacation-ready looks to a colorful Mediterranean design sense. Just in time to feed our wanderlust, London-based chef Yotam Ottolenghi and Belgian design label Serax have launched their second homeware collection, “Sicily,” in collaboration with Italian artist Ivo Bisignano. The collection comprises four colorful vases that were inspired by Bisignano’s Sicilian upbringing and calls to mind al fresco dining on the Italian island. While three of the vases are shaped like fish, the fourth is inspired by the Testa di Moro that so many Sicilians display on their terraces.

Behind Your Favorite Chair Is a Furniture Designer. Behind Them Is Giulio Cappellini.
We recently caught up with the Italian maestro, who has built a career on scouting the next big thing for your living room

My favorite piece from the Sicily collection is definitely the face vase, as it’s such a bold and contemporary interpretation of the traditional Sicilian Testa di Moro,” Ottolenghi says. “It emanates a real sense of cheerfulness and brings a playful energy to the table.”

We’re not sure that the Testa di Moro vases in The White Lotus are going to bring the characters good cheer, but they’ll certainly liven up your next dinner party — whether you’re backyard dining in the balmy summer months or want to bring a little warmth to your winter table. We’re partial to the Testa di Moro design ourselves, but the fish are just as charming if you don’t feel like staring into the eyes of a ceramic face all night.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.