For this month’s Design Store(y) we hop across the pond for a tour of a new, all-Italian concept store, .IT London, in the heart of the city’s Clerkenwell Design District. The space, which includes a design studio and wine bar, is housed in a completely renewed 18th century palace. Florentine architect, designer, and co-owner Daniele Bendini created .IT. All the products, both furniture and food (there’s a cafe), come from Italy. Time to browse!
Why did you pick this city/neighborhood/storefront?
I chose London because it is one of the strategic towns for interiors, architecture and design; I chose Clerkenwell because it is the design quarter of London and here there are 70 percent of all architect’s studios in London and 70 percent of world-wide architecture is designed here! I chose 20 Rosebery Avenue for its location and the unique opportunity to realize a multi-fuctional space, with an aparthotel above, a wine bar/cafe, and the furniture showroom with the interiors studio.
Where did you get the name for the store?
I started two years ago to think about this project. And I started to think also about a possible name for the showroom. I wanted to have a very short name and a direct connection to the Italian origin of all our brands, but in a contemporary way; so I chose .IT, which means Italy in internet era! and I quickly booked the web site….
Has it changed much since then? How?
I worked two years to realize this dream! First I travelled throughout Italy in order to search for the Italian brands to represent in my showroom. After one year, I selected 20 brands to start. Now I have more than 30 brands, and cover all the aspects of interiors.
What’s one of the challenges you have with the business?
There are many showrooms in London, many of them are mono-brand. The challenge of .IT is to give total support to architects, interior designers, and private customers. Total support means to cover all the aspects of a project, from finishings to furniture and art. Yes, we also have some artists who show paintings and sculptures at .IT. Another challenge is our hours. Since we have a wine bar, .IT is open until 9:30 in the evening so professionals can come after work and enjoy a glass of wine while searching the ad-hoc products.
What other stores have you worked in before opening this one?
I worked in a furniture and lighting store when I was very young. Then my career was based on architecture, interior design, and product design. But it is the first time that I have my own store! I know all the furniture and accessories brands very well and I like to create events, windows, and to be the art director!
What’s your favorite item in the store right now?
I like the VITA lamp by Lucente, designed by Danish architect Brian Rasmussen (seen hanging from the ceiling in the middle of the above photo). The design is neat and geometrical while at the same time looking vibrant and random. Of course I love a lot of articles I chose for my showroom!
What is this season’s theme/inspiration/story?
During the Clerkenwell Design Week in May we held a seasonal event, called “Nature Inspired Design.” All has been chosen in the colours and materials of nature—wood, green, orange, violet. All the showroom is like a garden with flowers, ivy, and artificial green grass.
Are you carrying any new products and/or undiscovered gems you’re particularly excited about?
Yes! I am showing new collections and colours by Lucente, Edra, Fiam, La Falegnami, Casamania, Tonon, and others. In particular, all the lamps will be white, the sofas in white leather, chairs in natural wood, orange, green and violet. The other items will be in natural tones.
What’s been a consistent best seller?
The best sellers are the Lucente lighting and Edra sofas. Happily, everything is doing quite well!
Do you have anything from the store in your own home?
Yes, I have a black-orange ANKE lamp by Lucente; it’s the perfect lamp for my contemporary house.
Does the store have its own line?
We are thinking about starting our products collection next September. Stay tuned!
Visit .IT London at 55 Ennismore Gardens, London SW7 1AJ