Aati is making its third attempt to break into the Abu Dhabi market, bringing a host of high-end design brands to a new showroom in Khalidiya.
New Aati showroom brings high design to Abu Dhabi
The new Aati showroom in Abu Dhabi has introduced a host of high-end design brands to the capital. Selina Denman speaks to Fendi Casa supremo Alessandra Battistini to find out what her company will be bringing to the market
Alessandra Battistini points to the sofa's "selleria" piping to prove her point. Battistini heads up Fendi Casa's custom and VIP projects, and is well-placed to explain how the brand, which was launched as an offshoot of the Fendi fashion label in 1989, is able to set itself apart at the very highest echelons of the design industry.
"Details. We are very, very careful with the detailing on our products. This is what distinguishes us from other companies. This particular work on the Plaza sofa, the selleria piping, is done by hand and comes from Fendi accessories. It was first invented by Adele Fendi and then Silvia Venturini Fendi reused it for handbags."
Fendi Casa prides itself on the fact that most of its products are made in-house, by skilled craftsmen, many of whom have been with the company for more than 20 years. "This is very important for the company because they have the experience and they have lived through our growth," Battistini says. "Also, Fendi Casa makes all of its products in Italy, except for the outdoor structures. We want to give the market maximum quality; this is the reason. Italy is the best country for production. Even if today it is not easy to work in Italy and it is not a good time for Europe in general, I think the quality in Italy is as good as it has ever been."
A team that works day-in and day-out to source the very best leathers, fabrics and materials also helps to ensure that Fendi Casa maintains its quality offering, Battistini says. "For example, take our crocodile-print leather. No one has ever succeeded in copying this because it is exceptional."
Although they are separate entities, Fendi Casa works closely with Fendi fashion to ensure that the integrity of the brand is retained and maintained. There are often crossovers - the distinct handle of the Fendi Spy bag has been transformed into a drawer handle in Fendi Casa's Canova collection, for example, while silk designs that adorn Fendi scarves are often transported onto cushion covers.
"The brand is very important," says Battistini. "It's a guarantee. You buy Fendi, and it's a logo on your shoes or on your bag or your sofa, but I think the world also knows that it means that Fendi Casa comes with a guarantee of taste and quality. Fendi is classic, but not classic as in baroque; classic in a good way."
Battistini is in the UAE for the opening of the new Aati showroom in Abu Dhabi. The store will provide Abu Dhabi residents with access to a host of design brands, Fendi Casa included, that have previously been unavailable in the capital.
Launched in 1981 by the Al Tayer Group, Aati is one of Dubai's most established furniture stores, with a stable of brands that includes the iconic Ligne Roset, Minotti, Lebanon's design sweetheart Nada Debs, the fashion-friendly Missoni Home, Ralph Lauren Home, Kenzo Maison and Fendi Casa, as well as Visionnaire. However, in spite of its success in Dubai, Aati has failed to crack the Abu Dhabi market on two previous attempts. Nonetheless, hopes are high that this will prove to be third-time lucky for the brand.
The showroom covers a massive, two-storey, 16,000-square-metre space in the Shining Towers next to Khalidiyah Mall. Dominating the ground floor are the collections by Minotti, Ligne Roset and Nada Debs. It is fitting that Ligne Roset's Togo sofa takes pride of place by the entrance to the showroom, welcoming visitors as they walk through the door. Currently celebrating its 40th anniversary, the Michel Ducaroy-designed classic was part of the first shipment of furniture delivered to Aati when it opened in 1981 - and continues to be a bestseller to this day. Overhead, the company's sculptural Bloom and Stripes lights highlight the fact that Aati is aiming to provide holistic solutions for the home, offering everything from furniture and lighting to bed linen, accessories and consultation services.
Towards the back of the store, the Nada Debs collection introduces a touch of regional flair, along with a pop of colour. All of the designer's best-known pieces are on show, from the Arabesque Modern armchair and Tongue and Groove dining chair to the Arabian Nights mirror and the instantly recognisable Floating Stool. An extensive upstairs area is home to all the fashion affiliates: Fendi Casa, Kenzo Maison, Missoni Home and Ralph Lauren Home, as well as Visionnaire. The collections up here offer a more classically styled and - at times - unashamedly flamboyant aesthetic, from the sturdy, timeless pieces of the Ralph Lauren collection to the bold prints of Missoni and the glammed-up appeal of Visionnaire.
For Fendi Casa, it was important to display pieces that would attract the attention of an increasingly design-savvy Middle Eastern customer, says Battistini.
"People in the Middle East have become very demanding when it comes to their homes. And so, in Abu Dhabi we decided to use very soft and sophisticated colours, as well as black.
"We have shown our classic, must-have sofa models, like Prestige, which is very famous, and Plaza, which is a very particular mix of a modern shape with classic detailing. We think that the Middle East market is very strong for us so we are very glad that Fendi Casa is part of this very important shop in Abu Dhabi."
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