Evening Standard - ES Magazine


Furniture curator Gennaro Leone on the importance of the not-so-humble table and chairs


The objects in 31-year-old Gennaro Leone’s Lower Clapton showroom Spazio Leone cut a distinctiv­e figure against traditiona­l antiques. Hard blacks, jagged metals and helter-skelter Eighties pieces with a strong Italian aesthetic thread throughout. No doubt his previous work as music coordinato­r for cutting-edge platform Boiler Room — known for its fashion and events — fed into this look.

Centre of Leone’s vision for the home is the dining table. ‘The shared pleasures of the table are really important to me,’ he says. ‘Perhaps that’s a result of my Italian culture of food and hosting.’ This led him to fall in love with the wooden, bridge-like autoproget­tazione (translated as ‘self-made’) table designed by 1950s Italian design godfather Enzo Mari. ‘It was conceived in reaction to the glut of mass-produced furniture around at the time — he explained in intricate detail how best to produce 19 pieces of furniture from scratch.’ Leone ended up buying too much while on holiday in Italy and decided to re-sell some of the pieces that did not fit – and therein lay Spazio Leone.

The last thing he bought for himself was a 1985 Feltri armchair by Gaetano Pesce, made entirely of felt saturated with epoxy resin, with a flexible back and adjustable ‘enveloping’ arms. ‘It’s a dream piece that meets functional­ity and super great design,’ he says. He most regrets selling an angular, rare Yves de la Tour d’Auvergne sculpturec­um-art chair to a client and not keeping it for his own home.

Leone hopes that people’s renewed search for quality in interiors will mean ‘a crescendo of new, well-designed and long-lasting pieces from new designers and producers’ as vintage pieces become more expensive and harder to find.

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