It isn’t too much of a stretch to state baldly that The Rooms of Rome combines three of our favourite past-times: architecture, interior design and art. It certainly helps, too, that a couple of Wallpaper* stalwarts are so inextricably linked to the project.
Occupying the ground, fourth and fifth floors of one of the 17th-century palazzi that Rome seems to have such a surfeit of, the Fondazione Alda Fendi – Esperimenti has created a remarkable mixed-used hub which includes a suite of boutique serviced apartments that are personally operated by Kike Sarasola, the founder of the Room Mate group.
The French architect Jean Nouvel has left his indelible imprint on the 3,500 sqm space, not least in the 24 grand apartments on the first, second and third floors that he has refashioned as a series of generously proportioned rooms. These, he lights with natural light and furnishes with a sophisticated swathe of untreated concrete, steel finishes, trompe l’oeil panels that mimic a mirror reflecting an alternative dimension of the room, and mid-century inspired furniture, the sophistication of the millennial ensemble set off by exposed brickwork and ancient timber beams.
For guests, the in-house diversions are, by virtue of the fact that it’s not run as a hotel, rather limited, but Sarasola cleverly works with external collaborators for everything from spa treatments and cooking lessons to museum and private city tours.
The Fondazione’s ground floor gallery is conceived as a bridge between Italian history and art, and contemporary perspectives presented as audio and visual installations. The first exhibit of Michelangelo’s Florentine and Roman architectural drawings was accompanied by Nouvel’s commentary, whilst the Renaissance giant’s L’adolescente sculpture will arrive in December on loan from Saint Petersburg’s Hermitage.
The fourth floor and rooftop on the fifth, meanwhile, have been given over Caviar Kaspia, the gallery’s soigné restaurant whose three large terraces, windows and strategically placed mirrors overlook the Forum, the Temple of Vestia, the Arch of Janus and the hills of Rome. Here, head chef Giovanni Giammarino delivers a singularly Italian menu of linguine spiked with truffles and bottarga, and ravioli stuffed with parmigiano Reggiano, alongside a bevy of marine-based delicacies such as Norwegian salmon, and Bulgarian oscietra and beluga.