Love Letter to My Home: Achille Salvagni’s Glamorous Apartment in Rome
Recognized for his incredible design creations, including the quickly iconic Spider chandelier, Achille Salvagni divides much of his time between his birthplace of Rome and London, where he has a gallery. He’s spent the past few months sheltering in place with his wife and two children in their Italian apartment, which overlooks a fantastical mix of architectural styles and periods. That incredible combination of old and new is echoed in the pieces he’s selected in his home, which is the perfect array of furnishings he’s created, vintage treasures, and an ever-growing art collection. Here, the designer, who shows his lighting and furniture at Maison Gerard in New York, shares with Galerie why he loves this apartment now more than ever.
My home is in Rome, in the Coppedé neighborhood facing the teahouse of Villa Albani, an important villa dating back to 1747. I designed it seven years ago, taking inspiration from the surrounding area, which is well-known for its mix of architecture, juxtaposing elements, eras, and styles. I live here with my wife and children, so I took into account important family considerations to create a balance between a “grown-up” reception space and family comfort.
I had good bones to work with. The house itself had great potential for its lateral space and 13-foot-high ceilings. I mixed new and inherited art and design pieces alongside finds from auctions, galleries, flea markets, and antiques shops as well as the inclusion of a few bespoke pieces from my own collection. A vintage card table by Paolo Buffa from the 1930s sits comfortably in the same room as a Biedermeier cabinet, and a set of Etruscan vases coexists with a painting by Ettore Spalletti. What ties them all together is great craftsmanship and artistry. I love filling my home with contemporary art, because it’s closer to my period and understanding. I invest my energy, money, and time into visiting museums and fairs. And I often enrich my collection with new pieces, each referring to a different specific moment or experience. It makes me feel alive.
I’ve been here for almost two months now. Usually, I travel a lot, so this is probably the longest period I have ever spent in a single place continuously since establishing my practice. I have been pleasantly surprised by the vast spaces that allow me to breathe and feel comfortable, enabling me to easily divide time between work and family. I’ve even had time to admire the sunset on my drawing room walls, which turn a golden mustard as the sun disappears. The dimension of the windows lets you breathe and take in the view. I notice the history that melts into the city’s sights, and it makes me feel my roots here. The blood that flows under the stones that belongs to your heritage and family.
I have changed a few things over the past few weeks, including introducing a 1930s bar cabinet by Osvaldo Borsani to the entrance hall that I bought recently at auction. I’m also now realizing that I need more shelves in the library for books. Other favorite pieces are displayed throughout the home—I have a red-upholstered chair by Carlo Mollino, who for me was a master of architecture and design. I think it embodies everything he represents as a great example of his time. A pair of side tables by Max Ingrand for Fontana Arte from the 1960s have a very timeless beauty. My very first Spider chandelier now hangs over the dining room table with two white monochrome paintings by Jason Martin and Fabio Mauri.
The kitchen has become the heart of the home. So I’m now considering doubling the size of the kitchen, which is already quite big for Roman standards. But my wife and two children have spent so many nights around the island cooking lately. We make very Italian dishes. We made pizza three times and made our own dough and tiramisu. My wife’s name is Valentina. She makes the second course of meat or fish. I do the simpler dishes. I like the pasta al dente and am now quite good at making the twirl of pasta on the plate. My specialty is one with cherry tomatoes and basil. I’m not a great cook, but I try to do my best and the kids are happy to prepare everything together.
Work must go on, so I have been spending my days in the winter garden, where I have a leather desk designed by Jacques Adnet that I bought at Christie’s in London a few years ago. It’s the perfect host for my laptop. Paradoxically, I enjoy the silence when it comes so I can focus on my thoughts and work; however, hearing the joyous sounds of our children playing or talking together among themselves or with my wife brings me great fulfillment.