From the ashes: Achille Salvagni’s new furniture exhibition evokes the lost city of Pompeii

From the ashes: Achille Salvagni’s new furniture exhibition evokes the lost city of Pompeii

Renowned for drawing upon the different histories of Rome within his work, architect and designer Achille Salvagni has found inspiration a little further afield for his latest furniture exhibition.

‘When you arrive in Pompeii, you are struck by the colours of the walls, mosaics and frescoes,’ says Rome-born Salvagni, recalling his visits to the archaeological site. ‘Even in their muted tones, they are beautiful and always remind me of spring.’ So taken was Salvagni by Pompeii’s faded palette of pale greens, earthy reds, burned oranges, blushes and blues, that he used it as the basis for a new themed exhibition which is set to be unveiled at Salvagni’s Mayfair space this week.

In particular, Salvagni’s eye was caught by the fresco on the Tomb of the Diver. ‘The simplicity of line of the diving figure makes it so relevant even now,’ he says. ‘I wanted to harness this incredible history of the rest of Pompeii and see how it could serve as a point of reference for a contemporary interior.’

‘Diomede’ by Achille Salvagni

Put together over a six month period, the assembly of furniture includes three new pieces alongside other updated designs from Salvagni’s existing collection of over 100 works. Each one is handmade by craftsmen in Rome who, before working on the Atelier’s fine furniture, were more accustomed to carrying out restoration work around the city. ‘I think the reason they [the craftsmen] enjoy this collaboration is the excitement about producing a contemporary work, but [also] using age-old artisanal methods,’ he muses.

New pieces include the ‘Gio Louro Faia’, a double door bar cabinet in lacewood with a polished and protected smooth brass top, inset gold handles and bronze legs. With its generous elongated seat upholstered in smooth velvet, the ‘Tato’ chaise joins Salvagni’s family of ‘ato’ armchairs, while other existing pieces, such as ’Bench’, shown in an inviting grey astrakhan wool, have received Pompeii-inspired updates with new finishes, colours and fabrics. 

Taking centre stage, the sculptural console table made from a swooping curve of cast bronze topped with a slab of Rosso Levanto marble is a new addition that Salvagni is particularly proud of. ‘We had to source the exact marble for “Diomede” until I was happy that it was the perfect fit,’ he says of the design, which is an homage to a neo-classical painting of Villa Diomede in Pompeii. ‘The stone is laid so bare in this piece that I needed to love every vein in the block of marble.’

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