DePadova's creative director Piero Lissoni tells us about the Italian brand's shiny, new London digs
High-end Italian design brand DePadova has just opened its first UK showroom in Brompton Cross, west London. ‘I like this part of Chelsea,’ says Piero Lissoni, the brand’s creative director, approvingly. ‘You feel you’re in a village, not a metropolis. It has nice restaurants and shops nearby — The Conran Shop, B&B Italia… It’s inhabited by designers, architects… It has a community feel, charm. It’s not full of the Lamborghinis you see in Belgravia and some parts of Kensington.’
Called DePadova Chelsea, the shop is in fact on the border of Chelsea not in the heart of the area, but why let reality get in the way of glamour? After all, this is the fabulous world of DePadova, which merged with high-end kitchen and bathroom company Boffi in 2015. Its new, white-walled space with floor-to-ceiling windows occupies a four storey building redesigned by David Chipperfield. Its interior has been co-created — or co-curated — by Lissoni and the Boffi Group Design and Style office. ‘We hardly changed the interior; we just covered the floor with poured resin so that it is all one level,’ he shrugs insouciantly.’ It soon becomes apparent that Lissoni has the irreverent streak of one too established to care about being fully on-message. ‘I don’t like spending millions on a retail space, to make it look like a theatre.’
When we meet there, Lissoni was ensconced in one of his designs, the sprawling, L-shaped, aptly named Landscape sofa, which somewhat dwarfed him. But on his feet, he was tall, elegant, dressed dandyishly in airforce blue trousers short enough to expose natty, spotty socks. Given his affection for the location, it’s a little ironic that the new store isn’t at street level. Yet this renders it a destination store par excellence. ‘You’re on the street and not on the street,’ he explains, as if tickled by this paradox.
You feel you’re in a village... it has a community charm. It’s not full of the Lamborghinis you see in Belgravia and some parts of Kensington
The shop was conceived to resemble an open-plan apartment, an idea which, concedes Lissoni, is ‘banal’ if necessary: ‘Shops no longer need to show a catalogue of disparate pieces but feel domestic, have atmosphere, soul.’ Removed from the street, the shop feels serene — an impression reinforced by its easy-on-the-eye, monochrome décor. For customers, the store will offer a secluded, private, privileged space. It is furnished with classic designs manufactured by DePadova. Over the decades, the firm has fruitfully collaborated with Vico Magistretti, Achille Castiglioni and, more recently, Patricia Urquiola and Nendo. DePadova, which was co-founded in 1956 by Maddalena and Fernando DePadova, has an impressively avant-garde pedigree: back then, its shop on Milan’s chic Via Monte Napoleone stocked pieces by the likes of Alvar Aalto and Arne Jacobsen, giving many Italian consumers their first taste of Scandinavian design.
Back in 1956, DePadova's shop on Milan’s chic Via Monte Napoleone stocked pieces by the likes of Alvar Aalto and Arne Jacobsen, giving many Italian consumers their first taste of Scandinavian design
In 2017, DePadova strengthened its Scandinavian connection by entering into a partnership with Danish company MA/U Studio, maker of starkly linear storage units, also present in the London store. Among the sleek, mainly ecru furniture in the store are several more offbeat pieces, among them a cane chair by Paolo Tilche for Bonacina 1889 from 1960, in a homely, retro style, and the boxy yet plush Blendy sofa upholstered in forest green velvet by Omi Tahara of 2018. It is these that give this space its special, subtly eclectic character.