Where can you buy a sofa modelled after the Colosseum? In Rome of course! This month’s featured Roman artisan is Rodolfo Rocchetti, an innovative custom furniture designer whose clients include the Italian Senate and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
At the Tempio di Adriano in the Piazza di Pieta, for the opening ceremony of the Roman Excellence for Export mini expo, was a showcase of a sampling of designs by 28 of Rome’s top artisans whose studios and workshops we would be visiting throughout the week of our visit to the city. One of the statement pieces that evening was a couch resembling a taxidermic tiger. It wasn’t hard to miss; not because it was placed just to the right of the stage where the ribbon cutting ceremony was about to happen, but because—have you ever seen a sofa complete with a tiger head arm rest and tail? (I should mention this was not a real tiger skin; it was made of a vegetable-based synthetic hide.)
I had never seen anything like it, and certainly not anything like it made so beautifully. Rocchetti boasts more than sixty years of passion for textiles manufacturing and furniture design. When we visited his studio, it was amazing to see how the skilled master upholsterer preserved tradition in making each chair from scratch, including the wooden frames and natural-fiber stuffing. Hand-carved beechwood legs, hand stitching and hand binding—even the springs are bound without any use of machinery.
So who buys a tiger couch? It’s no surprise that Rocchetti creates custom pieces for theatrical productions and television sets. In the studio attic, we take turns enjoying the comfort of another furniture species—the panther sofa. If Liberace were still alive today, I’m pretty sure he’d be one of their best customers with his penchant for elaborate sets.
But by no means is this talent limited to kitsch and cool cats. Rocchetti has designed and produced refined pieces for collectors and has been featured in Ad Collectors and Architectural Digest magazines. And, of course, the studio also provides restoration services for everything from chairs to beds from any period, bringing each piece back to its original splendour.
‘Farmboy in Roma’ is blog series by FBFA Senior Designer, 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 offering FBFA the opportunity to participate in this experience.