© Jean Nouvel Architectes / Photography: Roland Halbe

The Eternal City and the Fendi clan are inextricably intertwined, and although this has been the case for many decades, it’s a fruitful bond which continues to take shape in new forms. As one of the five influential Fendi sisters, Alda Fendi has obviously pitched in time and effort to make the family-run business what it is today, but she has also kept herself busy on the side with a project of her own. Since 2001, the youngest Fendi sibling heads Fondazione Alda Fendi, her very own non-profit art foundation, which aims to connect the past with the present through experimental projects that include exhibitions and performances across music, dance, opera, theatre and visual arts. Very recently, the foundation relocated to new premises in Rome, and settled in a rather grand 17th-century Baroque-style palazzo.

The listed building is situated in Velabro, one of the oldest parts of the Italian capital, and home to a handful of sights from antiquity. As if to reflect the foundation’s artistic objectives, the structure has been carefully redeveloped by renowned modernist architect Jean Nouvel. Needless to say, Fondazione Alda Fendi – Esperimenti‘s new home boasts plentiful architectural juxtapositions that have given the building a new lease on life, and a solid dose of la dolce vita along the way. Measuring 3,250 sqm. set across six floors, the Palazzo Rhinoceros as it’s now called, is a multifunctional venue that combines ample exhibition space, situated on the first and second floor, with 25 residences on the upper floors, including studios and two-bedroom apartments, and a rooftop bar and restaurant with glorious city views.

In each of the residences as much of the original architectural elements have been retained, and their respective dimensions vary, resulting in backdrops with a random patchwork aesthetic. Sleek kitchen units and bathroom furnishings in stainless steel add a bold and beautifully contrasting element to each setting. As said, the rooftop features a bar and restaurant, and the latter space will be managed by Caviar Kaspia, an upscale eatery whose menu revolves around – yes, indeed – Russian caviar. Fondazione Alda Fendi – Esperimenti’s inaugural show, curated by creative director Raffaele Curi, presents twelve drawings by Michelangelo, depicting monuments in Florence and Rome, and commented on by Jean Nouvel. The new venue has also struck a deal with the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, allowing to exhibit a major work from the latter’s collection each year on its premises.

Fondazione Alda Fendi – Esperimenti
Via del Velabro 9 (Velabro)
00186 Rome
Telephone: +39 340 6430435

© Jean Nouvel Architectes / Photography: Roland Halbe + Gionata Xerra