Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental

Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family
to Il Palazzo Experimental

On our last visit to Venice we couldn’t possibly have imagined that we would be “cut off” from it a few weeks later. We are thinking of Italy more than ever now. Of its north, the cradle of art and design, the source of a large part of The Socialite Family‘s DNA. Of the province of Veneto, which we have explored so many times. No, we were far from imagining this could happen! So, following “l’acqua alta” and its seemingly never-ending high tides, and while we are all confined at home, we wanted to return to the splendours of this beautiful city. History has proven it to us many times, Venice is strong. Proud! It has been the birthplace of so many marvels. And so, as a tribute to this city, now standing in water that is clearer than ever – one of the few positive consequences of the health crisis – we are delighted to present you with a story of tradition and beauty. Meet the fifth generation Rubelli, the family at the head of the legendary Venetian fabric company. Our interview with Andrea and Nicolò, the brothers in charge of its development and expansion, will be interwoven with photographs from our wanderings. From their respective apartments, we will take the canals to reach Il Palazzo Experimental. Opened this summer in the Dorsoduro district, the Palazzo, decorated by Dorothée Meilichzon – with the help of the Milanese designer Cristina Celestino – has attracted the curiosity of many travellers. And rightly so, as it recreates stunning Venetian style in an original Renaissance palace.

Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental
Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental
Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental
Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental
Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental
Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental
Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental
Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental
Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental

Andrea, Nicolò, can you introduce yourselves, please?

Andrea

After graduating in Electronic Engineering at the University of Padua, a choice guided more by my passion for technology than by reason, I started working for the family business at the Rubelli company headquarters in Venice. I was in charge of the IT department there. Then my responsibilities expanded. From logistics, I was put in charge of production and then of the company itself in 2004! Five years later, I was appointed Managing Director of Rubelli SpA, sharing the management of the company with my brother Nicolò and Alessandro, my father. From 2010 to 2018, my appointment as CEO and then President of Donghia Inc. in New York temporarily shifted my focus across the Atlantic. I had to coordinate the delicate phase of the transformation of the American market in the wake of the great recession very carefully. It was only last year, following the reorganisation of the company’s management, that I was again able to focus my efforts on developing new business areas for the Group. I was setting a major project in motion to ensure our company’s digital transition at the same time.

Nicolò

I began my career by coordinating the restructuring of the Rubelli weaving mill in Cucciago, near Como, where high-tech machinery works alongside the old manual looms for velvet weaving. They are a reminder of our Venetian and family tradition. Being appointed CEO in 2008 was an honour for me. The fourth generation paved the way for the family business to be handed down to the fifth generation, of which I am part! The years that followed were rich in new discoveries for me. In particular, we worked with Giorgio Armani on his Armani Casa collection. This collaboration, which combined his creative genius with our knowledge of the production and sale of fabrics, was a success. Since then, our activities have gone beyond the textile sector alone, extending to furniture with the launch in 2015 of “Rubelli Casa”, and the Rubelli Studio, which offers an interior design service as a complement to the products. The adventure continues, more exciting than ever!

What are your roles within the House of Rubelli?

Andrea

We frequently change roles in the Rubelli family. Today, I deal principally with textile production, some of our major customers and the development of new business opportunities. I also have a major IT renewal project which has been going on for the last few months.

Nicolò

I am Managing Director and head of the styling and design office.

Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental
Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental
Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental
Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental
Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental
Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental
Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental
Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental
Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental
Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental
Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental
Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental

Can you tell us a little about your family history?

Andrea

Our roots in Venetian textile production go back a long way. To be precise, our history dates back to 1706, when Cesare Rubelli received 155 ducats for dyeing the sails of the fleet of “La Serenissima”, the Republic of Venice. We imagine that the name Rubelli derives from the red dye used by our ancestors.

Nicolò

My grandmother used to tell me that when she was a child, she often went to see her grandfather Lorenzo who lived in Ca’ Pisani Rubelli, the palazzo which today houses our showroom and our historical archives. He had large, very comfortable sofas – covered with Rubelli fabrics, naturally – where she often fell asleep! Her parents always had to carry her home in their arms.

How would you define the spirit and the style of the company today?

Andrea

We have one eye on the past, one eye to the future. I imagine the House of Rubelli as a fabric, where the warp is our history, our traditional Venetian roots, and the weft renews itself every year, continually creating new and surprising textures, in an attempt to anticipate market trends.

Recently, you have collaborated with the great architect-designer, Peter Marino. Why did you choose him?

Andrea

Peter Marino is the president of the Venetian Heritage Foundation, an association that deals with the restoration of Venetian works of art. He was the best choice to represent the spirit of Venice in fabric. I am also proud to tell you that part of the profits from the sales of the Peter Marino for Venetian Heritage collection will be donated to Venetian Heritage. For me, this is the perfect union between Rubelli and art, which characterises our company.

Nicolò

The collaboration with Peter Marino has been incredibly exciting! He has discovered the true essence of Rubelli. By recognising his skills and knowledge, by using them in a new way, by adopting a fresh point of view that is both innovative and complementary to our collections. We are deriving considerable satisfaction from seeing him using Rubelli in his many prestigious projects as well as for his own collection.

Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental
Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental
Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental
Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental
Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental
Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental

We imagine that the name Rubelli derives from the red dye used by our ancestors.

Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental
Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental

Who inspires you among the younger generation of architects and designers?

Andrea

All the young architects and decorators who love fabric, but above all, who know how to interpret it in a new and surprising way!

Nicolò

Young architects and young decorators are talents that inspire us a lot. Above all, because they are capable of continual invention. They start from a blank canvas. When I say that, I’m thinking of the Nava+Arosio duo who created a chair for Rubelli, the Pila-47.

ADo you want to develop collaborations in the long term?

Andrea

Yes, indeed! These collaborations always provide us with important stimuli. Each of them operates like an energy multiplier for our creative team.

Nicolò

Rubelli will continue to make “capsule” collections with these talented, and, if possible, Italian people! Peter Marino is an exception. He’s not Italian, it’s true, but he has strong ties to Italy and in particular to Venice, being the President of the Venetian Heritage Association! A little preview for you: soon we will be launching a new collaboration, this time signed by Luca Nichetto.

What is your bestseller? Which fabric has evolved over the years, and which reflects your style?

Andrea

Silk velvet changes its colours from time to time, its quality is incomparable! But I would also mention the basic silks that are a must for Rubelli, season after season. At the same time, our slightly more “technical” fabrics illustrate the constant search for performance that comes naturally to us at Rubelli.

Nicolò

For me, it’s the precious San Marco damask in pure silk, which has always been in the collection and is characterised by a very distinctive relief effect.

Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental
Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental
Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental
Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental
Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental
Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental

How is life in Venice at the moment and after what just happened?

Andrea

The “Acqua Alta” of 12 November and the long series of high tides that followed were exceptional events that speak very clearly of the climate changes that are affecting the whole world. But Venice is a strong city, capable of recovering and returning to normality within a few days even after a succession of dramatic events.

Where do the true Venetians go?

Andrea

To Vini Da Arturo, La Bitta, Osteria Bancogiro

Nicolò

And Ai Cugnai!

What are your ambitions for the future of the House of Rubelli?

Andrea

It’s a long list… but I’d like to see our four 19th-century velvet weaving looms – handlooms that are still working perfectly in our factory in the province of Como – find a new market… perhaps in the context of a collaboration with a contemporary young talent!

Nicolò

A few years ago, Rubelli started to broaden its sphere of activities. Now, it is not only about fabrics and furniture but also about growth in sectors related to beauty and decoration. These are two significant examples that demonstrate the company’s ambitions. One is all our projects with Santoni (a range of Rubelli fabrics, among the most iconic, are being used masterfully to make high-end shoes and accessories). The other is those with Florim (Rubelli’s decorative patterns come to life on a ceramic surface in a reinterpretation of the texture of the fabric). In the future, we will always be searching for new ideas.

Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental
Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental
Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental
Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental
Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental
Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental
Destination Venice: from the Rubelli family <br> to Il Palazzo Experimental

Deco inspiration...

Carlo Zanuso

Carlo Zanuso

In his late 19th century palace in liberty style, Carlo Zanuzo has stayed a long time. His brand Pomandere, is at the successor to the family legacy. The jewel in the heart of the Ventian floor of which it occupies is his guard. A mission...

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1 comment

Ray Ciarrocchi, 24 March 2020

The endless fascination of Venezia. Each visit reveals more to discover.

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