One of the most famous squares in Rome is Piazza di Spagna, at the foot of the Spanish Steps. Not far from there, you will find the Paralumi showroom on the Via del Leoncino.
Dating back to 1938, this studio creates cherished lampshades of all kinds. On our tour of the workshop, brothers Antonello and Fabrizio Gualdani give us insight into their process which boasts completely traditional steps, from the handmade sketch to the production stage. Not a Mac in sight.
A translator explains how several samples came to fruition, pointing out the various innovative materials such as ceramic and Murano glass. Behind the tour group, I notice old newspaper clippings tacked to the wall. It appears Antonello has a penchant for long-distance cycling and has won several races, trading his white lab coat in for a cycling jersey on the weekends.
Antonello began working at a very young age, to replace his uncle who became ill. At first, he was the only one who could replace him, but he soon became quite passionate about the craft. He explained how the family prefers quality over margins, which has been difficult in a challenging economy.
The Gualdani family remains steadfast because they believe that large-scale manufacturing produces products infinitely inferior to those produced by artisans. And I can attest. Gorgeous fabrics, pattern pieces, and innovative experiments line the shelves on the opposite side of the room. It’s organized chaos, but when prompted to find a particular customer’s order, they know exactly where it is without hesitation.
Paralumi’s designs are featured in some of the most prestigious Roman palazzi and institutional buildings, and are recognized by revered interior designers, set decorators, and antique collectors throughout the world for their beauty and lasting quality.
‘Farmboy in Roma’ is a blog series by FBFA Acquisitions Manager, Fatima Travassos, which offers readers a rare glimpse into the studios of some of Rome’s top artisans. A special thank you to the Italian Chamber of Commerce of Western Canada for arranging for FBFA to visit the artisans.