MILAN — Rubelli, the Venetian textile maker famous for its hand-loomed soprarizzo, or chiseled, silk velvet, is going modern with its latest collection.
Unveiled during Maison & Objet in Paris, it was the first showcase incorporating the design-forward vision of the brand’s new creative leadership under the Formafantasma design studio. The 2024 textile was named “Gardens” and imbues offerings with the worlds of decor, fashion, art and photography. Formafantasma also brightened up Rubelli’s monobrand flagship showroom on Rue de l’Abbaye, with new colors like Naples yellow and retro-looking, velvety fabrics.
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Spearheaded by Simone Farresin and Andrea Trimarchi, Formafantasma is a Milan- and Rotterdam, Netherlands-based design studio and has worked with design and fashion brands like Flos, Bitossi and fashion and jewelry vanguard brands like Max Mara and Bulgari. In March of last year, for example, it conceived the sophomore edition Prada Frames, a symposium backed by Prada to explore the complex relationship between the natural environment and design.
In a move to incorporate contemporary style into its orbit and attract new generational consumers, Rubelli, which was founded in 1889, officially tapped Formafantasma as its creative director in 2023. Its first task was reinterpreting niche brand Kieffer, which joined Gruppo Rubelli in 2001.
In Paris, the firm managed to link the new botanical textile theme to Rubelli’s new retail concept in the French capital, a move the company said underscores its new chapter, where fabrics will be infused with an innovative edge.
Rubelli has strong ties with the fashion world and makes fabrics for brands including Armani/Casa.
“The time has come for a more radical evolution for Rubelli. We therefore decided to entrust the creative direction of Rubelli to Simone Farresin and Andrea Trimarchi, two intellectual and talented designers who together founded Formafantasma,” chief executive officer Nicolò Favaretto Rubelli said, noting that the first challenge — the recent relaunch of Kieffer — has been very successful. “Now it’s time for the main undertaking: to generate a new, fresh energy for Rubelli, working alongside our design studio.”
The new Garden collection was envisaged for both interior and outdoors, while aesthetically the collection’s motifs took cues from a medicinal herb garden that includes decorative flowers, vegetables and plants. Rubelli also presented materials enhanced for both home and outdoor use.
The showroom, which is located in the design district of Saint Germain, first opened in 1976. The two-story space spans more than 3,000 square feet. For the occasion, Formafantasma created a scenographic space reflecting the house’s fresh, contemporary vision.
Rubelli’s Home division was launched in 2015, and has built a rapport with both Italian designers over the decades. The late Gio Ponti designed the house’s Punteggiato velvet, which remains a successful component of its fabric lineup to this day. In more recent years, the house has worked with renowned Italian designers, architects and artists such as interior designer Marco Piva, architectural designer Cristina Celestino, photographer Brigitte Niedermeier and American architect Peter Marino. The latter created three-silk damask fabrics that echoed the work of 16th century painter Titian in 2019.
The photo shoot for the new collection took place at the soon-to-be home of the Formafantasma founders on Northern Italian lake Lago Maggiore and was shot by Italian photographer Federico Ciamei, “who infused his clever, light sense of humor and deep empathy,” Rubelli said, adding that the curation was an homage to Surrealist painter Domenico Gnoli, who rose to fame in the ’60s but only lived until the age of 36.
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