Roman architect-turned-furniture designer Achille Salvagni only fully ‘turned’ in 2013 with the opening of his Rome-based atelier. With a long list of luxury residences and yacht interiors to his name, Salvagni has already attracted a dedicated clientele for his designs on both sides of the Atlantic, and now has opened a flagship gallery space on Mayfair’s Grafton Street.
Achille Salvagni Atelier makes use of Rome’s generous stock of skilled craftsmen, usually employed on the restoration and upkeep of the city’s antiquities and clerical treasures. Indeed Salvagni’s pieces, all made to order, match 20th century forms – he is a fan of Alvar Aalto’s Nordic modernism and way with bentwood, as well as Gio Ponti and Italian cabinet making of the 1920s and 30s – with almost imperial flourishes. One cabinet, for instance, manages to reference both Ponti and a Roman soldier’s helmet and pulls it off magnificently. Salvagni also tries to insert a bit of narrative drive to his designs: the helmet cabinet is dedicated to Antinous, a kind of Classical James Dean and tragic lover of the Roman Emperor Hadrian (one of five good ones).
Salvagni uses the finest, and mostly finely-worked of materials, from mahogany and rosewood, to royal oak and laurel. He is not afraid to leave his brass blackened or rough textured, though; almost Brutalist in parts. His striking lighting designs again use big, bold brass work. Speaking to Wallpaper*, he revealed his plans to add new pieces and change the display in his store every three months and, with imperial ambition, confessed he is already eying up more space in the capital.