A makeover of Rome's French Academy at Villa Medici was unveiled by Fendi, in collaboration with Mobilier National. The Roman house worked on six salons within the 16th-century palazzo, creating a series of spaces 'that will encourage creativity and contemporary design'.
The project was led by Fendi's artistic director of couture and womenswear, Kim Jones, and Silvia Venturini Fendi, artistic director of accessories and menswear, and features a union between contemporary design and illustrious heritage. 'This makes Villa Medici a place that perpetuates exceptional know-how while creating the heritage of tomorrow,' reads a note from Fendi.
This approach is in keeping with Villa Medici architectural and aesthetic history: the multi-layered building was first erected during the Renaissance, and was adapted and tweaked over the centuries, up until the 1960s and 1970s, when then-director, painter Balthus, gave the villa's gardens a new look, and the 2000s, when scenographer Richard Peduzzi gave some of its spaces a modern interpretation.
Fendi and Villa Medici: heritage and contemporary design
Jones and Venturini Fendi chose colour as the unifying element for the development of Villa Medici, drawing from the Fendi architecture department to interpret the Salons through a combination of interior design and conservation-restoration. Each room's palette was influenced by the existing wall paintings, with custom-designed hand-knotted carpets made from recycled French wool and featuring graduate shades.
'The project was inspired by the desire to create a dialogue between the existing heritage and contemporary designs,' continues the company's note.
Within the rooms are specially commissioned pieces by designers including Chiara Andreatti, Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec and Toan Nguyen. The furniture designs are informed by the historical environments: for instance, Duchaufour-Lawrance's tables for the Salon des Pensionnaires, Salon de Lecture and Salon Bleu designs are informed by Roman architecture and textures.
The spaces also feature the Virgola chairs and Welcome sofa by Andreatti, as well as pieces she designed for Fendi Casa's latest furniture collection. More pieces from the Fendi Casa collections include Nguyen's Sandia sofa, rendered for the occasion in a warm orange hue and placed in the Petit Salon. Elsewhere, the Bouroullec's Belleville Armchairs for Vitra take centre stage within the grandiose spaces of the Villa Medici Grand Salon.
The collaboration between Fendi and Mobilier National resulted in a series of artistic masterpieces being dotted around the palazzo: throughout its rooms are modern and contemporary artworks by the likes of Louise Bourgeois, Sheila Hicks, Aurelie Nemours, Alicia Penalba and Sonia Delaunay, as well as Raoul Ubac, Edoardo Chillida and Patrick Corillon. Special attention was also paid to sound, with the installation is a series of customised acoustic panels concealed behind the tapestries, by Devialet.
Concludes the company's note: 'Fendi endorses its commitment towards the preservation of the artistic patrimony through this exclusive partnership and patronage, fuelling the Maison’s ever-lasting connection with the Eternal City, throughout the whole initiative, a major source of inspiration.
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Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.
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