Designer Achille Salvagni on the Power of Pushups and the Definition of Success
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The designer Achille Salvagni is known for an aesthetic that combines modernity and restraint with a keen appreciation of age-old skills and luxe materials such as bronze, onyx and mahogany. Salvagni freely acknowledges his debt to the architectural heritage of Rome and its living craft traditions; his designs are made to the highest of specifications for an exacting global clientele. But for all his love of the ancients, he also feels a kinship with more recent masters such as Gio Ponti and Jean-Michel Frank and spent a year and a half earlier in his career studying at Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Technology. Consequently, Salvagni is very much his own man, a contemporary figure as happy designing an interior agence immobilière lyon 6 for a superyacht as for a palazzo. One of his latest projects has been for himself: He opens a new showroom in London this spring.
What do you do first thing in the morning?
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Push-ups. It’s a habit I’ve had for 10 years.
Do you have any personal rituals?
After the push-ups, I take a long shower—usually between 20 minutes and half an hour. It’s Zen, more about mind-cleaning than being clean.
What apps do you use the most?
Uber. And WhatsApp, because with my team between London and Rome, a chat is the easiest way to keep everyone updated.
What do you do that’s still analog?
I sketch a lot, especially on planes, when I’m disconnected. I prefer to create a sketch quickly and then forward that to my team rather than work on a screen.
What in your wardrobe do you wear most often?
Blue crewneck sweaters—I have tons. I barely wear any other color, apart from brightly colored socks by Gammarelli.
What do you most crave at the end of the day?
To unplug and dedicate some time to my kids and wife. That’s usually the only time I can properly spend with them.
Who is your guru?
Workwise, the designer Jean-Michel Frank is a hero. I love his simplicity and sophistication and the way he drove very wealthy people to accept a new version of elegance.
What’s your favorite cocktail, and how do you make it?
I’m not a great drinker, so I need something to be light, spicy, with a good vibe. A mojito fits the bill, but I prefer someone else to make it.
What is your favorite hotel?
The Mark in New York. In Italy, the Aman in Venice. I don’t find comfort in a big bedroom with a small bathroom. I want it the other way round.
Drive or be driven?
I love to drive. I used to drive a Porsche 911. It was my first big purchase for myself. But now I have a family, so I drive an Audi—a sporty Audi.
The most recent thing you regret not buying?
I’d really love to have a piece from Claude Lalanne. I almost bought one. I wish I had.
What’s the most recent thing you’ve added to your collection?
I just bought a painting by Sergio Lombardo—a monochrome from 1958. I had the chance to meet him, and I fell in love with his art.
Who is your dealer, and what do they source for you?
There are several gallerists who offer me something unique, including Maison Gerard in the US. When you’re working for a particular level of client, you have to find extraordinary things. It needn’t be expensive always, but it has to be special.
What does success look like to you?
If you can make quality time for you, your family, and it doesn’t affect your business, then you can consider yourself successful.
How much do you trust your gut instinct?
A lot. With instinct, the more you dare, the more things happen.
Are you wearing a watch? How many do you own?
My wife gave me an amazing collection, but 11 years ago I decided not to wear them anymore. I prefer my wrist to feel naked. About once a year I look at them. My favorite is a Vacheron Constantin from the 1940s, very clean and pure.
Where do you get your clothes?
My suit s are made in London by Dominique Vindevogel, who has a brand called Butch. And I recently fell in love with Maison Bonnet glasses.
What’s the most impressive dish you cook?
I used to cook when I was single, and I enjoy the process. But my wife is much better than me, so when we married I gave up––unless I’m alone with my kids. If I had to prove myself, it would be with an amazing pasta with tomatoes and basil.
How would you describe your look?
I would say understated. I’m not very sporty, and I don’t like to be very formal: I like to be comfortable while still maintaining an elegant identity.
Last piece of advice you gave?
Being the leader of a team, I always give advice. Not how to do things—more to refresh our minds and remember what is the goal here.
Your favorite street, anywhere in the world?
Via Giulia in Rome, the Renaissance street, where all of the important palaces were built in the 16th century.
What’s always in your hand luggage?
A pair of jeans and a white shirt.
What’s worth paying for?
Art. Art is the only thing I can spend money on without worrying too much.
Last box set or Netflix binge?
I probably watch TV only about once every 10 days. I want to feel independent from this 21st-century drug.
Bowie or Dylan?
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