April 2, 2017
September 26, 2018
Calligaris celebrates the launch of its new collection during the London Design Festival. And I curated and restyled its new showroom on London’s Tottenham Court Road. The project involved an edit of the available pieces, and the complete recolouring and decoration of the space itself.
A proudly Italian brand, Calligaris was founded in 1923 in Manzano, Udine, with just one chair. Starting out as a small artisanal operation created by Antonio Calligaris, its production was dedicated to the Marocca chair, a simple affair with a wooden frame and hand-caned seat. It was a typical product for the area that would later become known as the “chair district”.
Today, there are over 800 products in the Calligaris catalogue and stores in over 100 countries all over the world. With a firmly contemporary aesthetic, and a preference for clean, simple lines, the secret of its success is that it’s not afraid to change with the times. It also leaves room for its customers to customise its products as they see fit as many of the pieces come in a wide variety of finishes and fabrics.
It’s also one of the few Italian brands to have a very consumer friendly website enabling you to play around at liberty with product permutations before you buy! As they put it, “We can experiment, change and innovate because we know who we are and what our brand represents for those who choose it — a guarantee of quality and creativity at an accessible price. Design that is contemporary, flexible, and intelligent.”
I was inspired primarily by the colours of the Calligaris CODE collection — rich greens, terracotta, gold and pale pinks. This is a brillaint range of accessories including pots, platters, candleholders and clocks. I also loved the exotic flavour of many of its new rugs, as previewed at the Milan International Furniture Fair earlier in the year.
The plan then was to focus the look around a series of strong sculptural ‘Future Classic’ furniture pieces, set against a sophisticated palette of colour, pattern and texture. The upper floor of the showroom was thus divided into a series of four sets — the windows, the entrance sequence, the back and a cosy corner. The overall effect was of taking the consumer on a journey through the range, guided by colour, from the front to the back of the store.
In the front windows I introduced the idea of an inviting proscenium through which to view the action inside. Two sets on either side of the main entrance. The palette was deep mustard yellow, terracotta and the rich amber-veined marble of several pieces used in the collection.
Because windows play such an important role for any shop, it was all about kerb appeal. Enough of an indication of the brand to entice passerbys inside, while also telling a complete story in its own right.
Inspired by the exotic references of the new collection Calligaris rugs, I specified two wallpapers in grey and green with coordinating borders from the Martyn Lawrence Bullard collection for Cole & Son. It’s an absolutely stunning set of papers inspired by “the diverse skills and unique craftsmanship of Eastern and Western cultures”. A perfect fit for the mood of 2018 Calligaris.
Then, as you progress through the store, the colour mood gradually changes from mustard to green, on the walls and underfoot. It ends with a semi-symmetrical grand coda at the end of the space, drawing the eye down the full length of the showroom. Here, I used the more muted grey colourway of the tile-wallpaper, but combined with Bullard’s ‘Jali Trellis’ stone effect paper for extra impact. Small wall returns were painted in a contrasting terracotta red to pick up the tones of associated accessories.
Finally, a small side room saw the two previous languages combine to draw the consumer through to explore a previously rather forgotten corner.
Alma armchair in Noor yellow. Medley rugs in yellow. Apotema rugs inspired by Japanese origami. Sextans black floor lamp. Bridge coffee tables in smoked glass with black marble tops. Horizon sideboard with black base and black marble top. Orbital table with black base and black marble top. Fifties chairs with black frame and Tobacco seats. Basil W chairs with black frame and Cognac leather seats.
Square sofa in Kenton blue. Atollo side table in black. Symbol side tables in black with Emperador marble tops. Esagono rug in pink. Medley plain rug in blue. Damasco mirror in grey. Cygnus floor lamp in white plus Cygnus table lamp in white.
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Michelle Ogundehin is internationally renowned as an authority on interiors, trends and style. She is an influencer with expertise and the multi award-winning former Editor-in-Chief of ELLE Decoration UK.