As part of the Re-enchanting Villa Medici project, the French Academy in Rome is pleased to unveil the new design of its historic rooms, the artistic direction of which has been entrusted to India Mahdavi, a Paris-based architect, designer and and scenographer, internationally renowned for her unique visual style that embodies a cosmopolitan and joyful art of living where hospitality, comfort and elegance come together as one. This project is being carried out in collaboration with the Mobilier National, a major institution of creation and heritage since the 17th century, and with the support of the Bettencourt Schueller Foundation, which has supported the arts and crafts for over 20 years.
For this project, India Mahdavi is proposing a new approach to Villa Medici’s rooms, where geometry and colour play a fundamental role and contribute to renewing the spirit of the place.
The new design of the historic rooms features exceptional furniture specially designed by India Mahdavi for Villa Medici: beds, tables, seats and carpets as privileged spots for observing the surrounding heritage, in particular the 16th-century paintings and frescoes by the Mannerist painter Jacopo Zucchi and the wall decorations by Balthus, restored for the occasion.
A total of 6 rooms are affected by this new arrangement: three rooms constituting Cardinal Ferdinando de Medici’s Apartments, which were fitted out at the end of the 16th century and are now open to visitors (the Chamber of the Elements, Chamber of the Muses and Chamber of Jupiter’s Loves), as well as three guest rooms renamed the Lili Boulanger Salon, the Debussy Room and the Galileo Room, in reference to great figures of the arts and sciences linked to the Villa Medici. Lili Boulanger, a fellow composer in 1913, was the first woman in the history of the Academy to be admitted to the music composition section. Today, the Villa Medici library holds ten scores, including one manuscript. Claude Debussy, a fellow of the Academy between 1885 and 1887, composed four works there that were not well received by the Paris Conservatoire, heralding the composer's non-conformist turn. For his part, Galileo, a Medici protégé, stayed at the Villa Medici twice, first in 1615-1616 and then in 1633, after his abjuration before the Inquisition tribunal.
India Mahdavi’s intervention allows the Academy’s collections to stand out in a new setting, in particular a group of sculptures, paintings and historical tapestries from the Gobelins.
The Mobilier national, a major partner in the project, has opened up its collections by entrusting Villa Medici with antique furniture re-enchanted by India Mahdavi using exceptional materials.
The project also enlists the help of a group of French and Italian craftsmen who maintain skills of excellence such as wood marquetry earthenware, weaving and cabinet making.
Among the corporate sponsors accompanying this refurbishment, Maison Craman-Lagarde (one of the companies of the Emblem Group), renowned for its marquetry techniques, is making the furniture for the Debussy room; Maison Tréca is equipping the rooms with top-of-the-range bedding designed in France; and Devialet is equipping Villa Medici with its iconic connected speakers Phantom with a tailor-made playlist for a tenfold immersive experience.
The artisans, suppliers and collaborators of the project:
Anna Martinotta (restorer), Astro lighting (lighting), Cogolin (carpets), Creazioni Luciano (ceramics), Cristina Fontana (restorer), Emiliano Ricci (restorer), Flos (lighting), Francesco Latti (restorer), GALA (construction manager), Giovanni Capuano (upholsterer), Livio de Simone (textile), Manufacture Bonvallet (textile), Manufacture Four (tapestry), Meljac (hardware), Pascal Michalon (cabinetmaker), Paralumi LAR (lampshade maker), Tassinari et Chatel (textile), THG (hardware), Thonet (furniture).
© François Halard