Ex-lavatoio is located in the heart of Esquilino, a Rome district well known for its multicultural identity, which is experiencing a period of artistic revival, following in the footsteps of the nearby Palazzo Merulana. Between period buildings and unexpected courtyards, in the attic of an elegant Umbertine-style building designed by Gaetano Koch, is a hidden place with ancient charm. The top floor, where the clothes once hung, is today home to Ex-lavatoio (Ex-washhouse) — an poly-dynamic workshop that combines creativity and the pursuit of quality, and doubles as a multifunctional space a suggestive location for events and photographic shootings.
-text by the authors
To breathe new life into this long-forgotten attic, in 2017, young Roman photo editor Antonella Sava – in complicity with her husband – lovingly renovated it with the support of the architectural firm Matca Studio, to create a flexible open space. As evidence of its former use, the couple left intact, the late nineteenth century iron staircase, the original wooden ceiling, and the inscriptions on the walls “Centre, left and right apartments”, which once indicated the position of the related water tanks to the tenants.
The completely renovated interiors mix vintage elements, such as large wooden tables and Formica chairs, with more contemporary brands; great design classics – above all the Flos 265 wall lamp, with more refined objects, such as a TV radio cabinet from the 1950s.
The space also features handcrafted pieces, like the brass candle holders hanging from the ceiling, and industrial furnishings, such as the metal bookshelves that house a comprehensive selection of photography books.
But the jewel in the crown is the terrace of over 40 square metres that overlooks the roofs of Rome, and offers a privileged view of Piazza Vittorio, away from the buzz of trams and the bustling chatter of the market.
Here, Antonella Sava, who has long been passionate about design, gathers talents related to the world of creativity with a 360° perspective and a truly collaborative spirit.
“Ex-lavatoio has the intimate atmosphere of a private top floor, while maintaining a strong professional vocation. At a time when work is increasingly autonomous and exchanges between professionals are often reduced to virtual relationships, I thought of giving them back a physical space”, explains the founder. “I want to eliminate the separating line between home and work, adding training, business and networking elements, in a well-finished yet informal context, in which to share and create experiences”.
To present the varied cultural offer, on Saturday 21 March 2020, Ex-lavatoio opens its doors to the public. In addition to visiting the suggestive space, visitors will be welcome to witness the creations of the protagonists of “Lo Spazio del Segno” (The Space of the Sign) — a highly professional didactic sui generis format, which explores the intricacies of the material to invoke a tailored approach to crafts, by revealing creative and artisanal processes that are often overlooked. The proposal, which targets professionals and amateurs, who wish to exchange ideas, experiment with creative processes and activate new collaborations, is divided into three workshops that will take place in Spring 2020.
The series kicks off on April 4, 2020, with the workshop “Roman leather goods, design and techniques of the lost heritage” by Nepente (Mauro Sciascia), which will explore the craftsmanship of leather and hides; followed by another workhop on April 18, 2020 directed by Madlen Ceramics (Cristina Firotto) “Ceramics between art, architecture and design”, a transversal path to reinterpret ceramics in a contemporary key; finally, on 9-10 May 2020, Aprile (Carla Rak) will hold the ranks of the workshop “Textiles between art and crafts: embroidery with a punchneedle”, dedicated to the punchneedle and the expressive potential of fabrics.
Part showcase, part laboratory, Ex-lavatoio aims to become a point of reference for the city, in which to explore original ways to shape a new beauty.
Antonella Sava was born in Rome in 1984. She graduated in art publishing from DAMS in Rome, and specialized in marketing management and photo editing at the LUISS Business School. Antonella has worked for major publications such as Internazionale, East, Rearviewmirror Magazine, the photo journalism agency Contrasto and as an assistant to the photographer Davide Monteleone. In 2015, alongside two other partners, she founded the photographic consultancy and design studio Dolls Eye Reflex Laboratory, of which she is currently project manager. From 2014 to 2017, she was photo editor for the weekly news and in-depth analysis magazine, Page99. In 2017, she founded Ex-lavatoio, of which she remains the creative director.
Located in the Piazza Vittorio area, along the perimeter bordering the historic Monti district, on the top floor of a six-storey late 19th century building built by architect Gaetano Koch, Ex-lavatoio, housed the so-called “caissons” of the building’s water – up until around fifty years ago. Today, following extensive renovations, it has been reborn as a private and multifunctional workshop that hosts social dining events, talks, secret concerts and workshops dedicated to design, crafts, photography, and more.
Facts & Credits
Project title Ex-lavatoio
Design Matca Studio architectural firm & Antonella Sava
Founder Antonella Sava
Location Esquilino, Rome, Italy
Workshops “Lo Spazio del Segno” (The Space of the Sign)
_ 4 April 2020 — Leather Workshop by Nepente “Roman leather goods, design and techniques of the lost heritage”
Teacher Mauro Sciascia
Hours 10:00am – 7:00pm
_ 18 April 2020 — Ceramics Workshop by Madlen Ceramics: “Ceramics between art, architecture and design”
Teacher Cristina Firotto
Hours 10:00am – 7:00pm
_ 9-10 May 2020 — Laboratorio di Tessile con Aprile: “Textiles between art and crafts: embroidery with a punchneedle”
Teacher Carla Rak
Hours 10:00am – 4:00pm