We are on the first floor of a Sixteenth century palazzo, in historic via Garibaldi, one of the most beautiful and important streets of Genoa, Italy. In 2006, via Garibaldi was included in Unesco’s World Heritage List. And it’s here that we have found a wonderful concept store: via Garibaldi 12. In fact, via Garibaldi 12, named indeed after the street it’s on, stocks an incredible selection of contemporary furniture and household goods. This store, has also brought back to its former glory a building, which had slowly lost most of its illustrious character.
This palazzo was built in 1562 by Baldassarre Lomellino. Today it’s known as Palazzo Campanella, taking the name of the ship-owner who bought it in 1917.
Two mast flags at the first floor and a small brass plaque mounted next to the ancient and imposing front door, inform passersby of its existence.
Via Garibaldi 12, is a family business. In Busalla, a little town close to Genoa, once the preferred holiday destination of aristocratic Genoese families, the Bagnara family used to run a truly innovative store with an across-the-board supply, which went from furniture to household goods and tableware.
In 2001, as Busalla was becoming less busy, the Bagnara family decided to move to Genoa. They chose a marvellous address, comparable to a museum, in an area of the city devoted to art and culture.
Until recently, this building housed the offices of a shipping agency. Desks were crammed on the first floor, however the huge potential of this place was clear. The renovations, lasting a year, were overseen by William Sawaya, architect who with Paolo Moroni started the interior design firm Sawaya&Moroni. From the outset, Swaya had complete and utter deference towards the heritage of this building. In fact, it’s beacuse of this that he wanted to bring back the original charm of this space, while keeping it free and open.
Sala degli Zecchini is part of a succession of eight drawing rooms, in the six hundred square metres of the store. Around the year 1770, this magnificent drawing room was remodeled following the example of the Hall of Mirrors, Versailles. Here, in a sort of chronological fusion, modern furniture like Patty Diffusa armchair and Moraine sofa by Zaha Hadid for Sawaya & Moroni, with surprising harmony, become an integral part of its baroque surroundings with an abundance of gilding, mirrors, stucco and Renaissance frescoes.
Both rare one-of-a-kind pieces, as well as less challenging products are displayed in these magnificent halls. This display ranges from furniture to household goods, also including small electrical appliances, vases, bijoux and even a choice of books, which is greately valued by customers. Each family member takes care of a specific product type, however the choice of which products to stock is always made together.
On the console-table: a vase by Fuksas for Alessi, silver bowls by Zanetto and a glass vase by Venini.
Via Garibaldi and its succession of magnificent Renaissance palazzos, is the most beautiful street in Genoa. “If we had been in Paris, or in one of the other great European capitals, this space would be a flagship store of a big international brand, however by luck or by misfortune, Genoa is yet to be included in these huge networks.” These are words by Lorenzo Bagnara, the son with a degree in history of art. Lorenzo fell in love with this place, which inspired him to write his dissertation on it. Because this place is worth visiting Genoa for, rightfully the tourist guides, take their groups to the concept store in via Garibaldi 12, between visiting one museum and another.