Designer Simone Menassè applies his distinct style to a newly opened lifestyle space in Rome where Greek elements take centre stage
In Greek, ‘naos’ is the word that describes the innermost part of a temple; the most sacred space where a god resides. A word that suggests intimacy and quiet contemplation, it aptly inspired a recently opened Greek restaurant-cum-bar and creative space of the same name, nestled in the Ponte Milvio neighbourhood of Rome.
As one of the latest projects conceived by architect Simone Menassè, Naos exudes his signature design touch characterised by an earthy palette, impeccably crafted furnishings, and a nod to the past that is deftly reinterpreted for the present. Housed in a former warehouse, which had been previously used to store electrical equipment, a vast skylight dominates the central lounge area – bathing the space in natural light. Here, a custom-made DJ wood console, softly rounded sofas and vintage Kangaroo chairs by Pierre Jeanneret tone down the stark, bare-cement edges of the building’s brutalist silhouette.
“I wanted to bring the space back to life while taking inspiration from the ‘50s and ‘70s, by using vintage furniture alongside hand-crafted pieces made by incredibly talented local artisans,” says Menassè. “My intention was to create a place that is more than just a restaurant or mixology bar. Rather, Naos is a fluid concept space where art, food, music and culture meet.”
Versatile and multi-faceted, Naos’ offer is wide-ranging: visitors enjoy brunch while listening to jazz; visit the art exhibition of the moment; or shop the unique decorative accents that fill the vast, open-plan space. Outside, a spacious terrace offers views of the cityscape that unfolds beneath it. Here, low-lying chairs and sofas sculpted of travertine offer an intimate setting for open-air evenings spent beneath the camphor trees.
“While it is not my first project in Rome, Naos was the first project that I have worked on where I was able to ‘see’ the final space before we began construction. This was thanks to virtual reality, which allowed me to embark on a journey of exploration and experimentation,” shares Menassè. “In this way, and with the use of this cutting-edge technology, I was able to take decisions I couldn’t have otherwise taken.”
The result of his journey is reflected in the centreing calmness that defines Naos. Stepping through its doors, the city’s frenetic energy is left behind, opening up space for all of one’s senses to revel in.