JCR: To what extent does Fendi’s clothing line inform its home design?
AS: Fashion is very much linked with the world of furniture at the moment. At Fendi Casa, colors, textures, and other key details are primarily organized by the fashion staff. So the same concepts used in the ready-to-wear collections are transplanted into the world of furniture. There’s quite a strong bond between the fashion and furniture worlds.
JCR: In terms of textures and textiles, the same materials used for clothes are used for the furniture as well?
AS: That’s right. Sometimes home furnishing accessories, like a cushion for example, uses exactly the same material as a woman’s dress. And as far as leather is concerned, we try to closely reproduce exactly the same colors and textures as in the ready-to-wear collections.
JCR: For clothes Fendi uses real crocodile, for the furniture it’s embossed croc, was it a case that a massive sofa in real croc would be too expensive?
AS: It wasn’t a matter of cost; it’s a matter of upholstering. Real crocodile on our frames would be physically impossible. So we use embossed calfskin. We can reproduce any type of reptile by this means. The same can be done on particular fabrics,such as velvet and cottons.
JCR: And the Fendi fur story continues here as well. I see shaved minks, sheepskins, etc…
JCR: Was it a case of your customer base demanding more from Fendi? Why has the brand been aggressively expanding Fendi Casa?
AS: Yes, many of our clients just buy Fendi throughout the wide range of products that the maison offers. Fashion conscious customers really want to shop in a house full of accessories in which the individual can identify him or herself. So if a client shops Fendi, they buy the handbag, the cushion, and the sofa. So the links have to be quite close. For example, if a woman buys a Selleria handbag, the Selleria must be replicated in the same way on a piece of a home design item. That’s what the Fendi client expects. For fear of sounding rhetorical, they identify with the Fendi lifestyle. That’s why the home fashion trend is gathering such momentum. And I’m sure that more fashion houses will concentrate on developing home design. Fendi though has been doing it for the last 20 years, and we’re ahead of the game in many respects.
JCR: Ok, it’s clear that one’s home design style is just as important as one’s clothing style, but how do you manage to represent the trends with static products like furniture?
AS: We try to mirror the fluidity of a top model descending a runway in our home accessories with a feature we call comments. Comments are what characterize a piece of furniture. They give furniture that kind of flair. Comments are different color ways, different atmospheres, and different mixtures of textures and fabrics. All of these elements combine to give that fluidity and trendiness to sofas and chairs.
JCR: Fendi is currently collaborating with Swarovski on a furniture group for the home, the kind of collaboration Swarovski typically extends to fashion and jewelry. Is this another example of blurring the lines?
AS: And this is just the beginning. Potentially the two brands together could breed a considerable amount of prestige. Now here in Milan we’re showing some really expensive crystal encrusted mink accessories. This fall we will be developing more things and showing the merchandise in three different shows.
JCR: An important feature for Fendi Casa is the ability to customize the pieces, choosing the leathers or textiles, the colors, etc. It’s like putting together the features of a bespoke suit. Tell me about this offering.
AS: Customizing for a client is one of the most important things that we do. If the client requires a sofa 10 or 20cm wider or 5cm higher, we accommodate these needs. At the moment, this is absolutely required on the market. Clients want to have an individual piece of furniture as they want to have a tailor-made piece of clothing.
Photos: Fendi Casa Fall ’04