The idea that ultra luxury in interior design also has to be ultra serious is a silly one. Sadly it’s too often the case that at the haute end, the stuff of life has to be a little bit, well… stuffy, if it’s to be taken seriously. It is with great pleasure, then, that for spring, superyacht designer to the stars Achille Salvagni has taken a bold move in quite the other direction and transformed his Mayfair Atelier into a spaceship.
What a vessel. In Salvagni’s sumptuous retro-futuristic space capsule, inspired by set designs from iconic 1960s science fiction films, Stanley Kubrick’s seminal 2001: A Space Odyssey has landed in Grafton Street. With three new pieces as well as a fine selection of works from the designer’s classic collection, the playful exhibit shows that far from being kitsch, a little lightheartedness can go a long way.
Paneled walls feature portholes seemingly looking out to space
Especially when it is as sharply tailored and as obsessively crafted as Salvagni’s vision. Set against the gallery’s all-white backdrop, paneled walls are dotted with a pair of portholes that look out into space. The earthy and metallic tones of Salvagni’s signature pieces, crafted from natural materials such as onyx, 24K gold-plated bronze and European walnut, float weightlessly. Organic textures and soft curves are juxtaposed with geometric forms, exploring the harmony between past and future, tradition and innovation.
“I admire the ground-breaking production design of 2001: A Space Odyssey and the visionary atmospheres of 1960s science-fiction movies in general,” says Salvagni, by way of explanation. “As commercial space tourism takes shape, I created my own interpretation of a space capsule. I wanted to imagine a futuristic yet opulent interior with highly crafted pieces, design a personal response to the imminent exploration of this unchartered territory, another marvel soon to be revealed.”
Organic textures and soft curves are juxtaposed with geometric forms at Achille Salvagni
Salvagni, who opened the London Atelier in 2015 but is himself based in Rome, has described his pieces as being “closer to fine jewellery than furniture” in their construction. Represented by Maison Gérard in New York, key works have also achieved notable results in recent auctions at Sotheby’s and Piasa and now sit in the collections of luminaries and the likes including Michael Bloomberg, Paul Simon, and Gisele Bündchen.
Back in the space capsule, the first room is dominated by his classic Spider chandelier in white patinated cast bronze and back lit onyx. Emerald and Menhir side tables, conversing with one another, become futuristic emblems, almost carved out of singular blocks of materials from outer space.
A pair of cosmic-style wall sconces at Achille Salvagni
The softer, let’s say slightly ‘alien’ Papillia armchairs, are a new version of Salvagni’s successful dining chair, with delicate six-leg supports. New Bubbles wall sconces revisit the original design conceived for Jeff Koons, while a set of Brancaleone wall sconces are suspended in the space like celestial objects. Two cabinets, Silk and Roma, catapault classic organic forms, noble Roman materials and craftsmanship into the vision.
In the Atelier’s second room, wood paneled walls give way to a night sky as the Simposio chandelier represents an orbiting moon. The new Pietra coffee table in Alpacca and Lacewood is the key piece of this module: its asymmetric shape alluding to a mysterious meteorite. Atlante and Calipso, a delicate pair of candleholders in a carved onyx block and cast bronze base with a burnished finish, and the Cosmedin side table – whose surface recalls planets as seen from space – complete the extra-terrestrial picture.
What happens next is simple. It’s a countdown to blast off.