Calligaris—Friendship Heights' new Italian home furnishings store set to hold its grand opening celebration on Friday, Oct. 19 (from 6 to 9 p.m.)—was started in Italy in 1923. Patch interviewed the store's director Alessandro Calligaris to find out more about the business:
Patch: What other Calligaris locations are in the U.S.?
Calligaris: "Calligaris has locations in New York, Miami [and] Chicago."
Patch: Why did you select Friendship Heights/Washington, DC, for your next store?
Calligaris: "Calligaris furniture will meld nicely with the urban environment of Washington, DC. Many of the pieces are adaptable so they work nicely in small homes. Calligaris creates beautiful furniture that is also functional, [and] many of the dining tables expand and collapse to accommodate large or small gatherings."
Patch: Before 2008 (when, according to the store's website, the flagship store opened in Milan), how and where did the company operate?
Calligaris: "Antonio Calligaris started an artisan’s chair-making workshop in Manzano in Friuli [in northeastern Italy] in 1923. The region became specialized in this type of product, thanks to the availability of the necessary raw materials, as timber from the mountains and straw from the lagoon converged. From Calligaris’ workshop, the hand-made, straw-bottomed chairs went on to wholesalers, who subsequently distributed them across Italy—purely anonymous products, without a brand. Antonio’s son Romeo, who succeeded him in 1950, took advantage of the economic development during the post-war period. The furniture industry was growing rapidly. Furniture that had been made by carpenters for thousands of years began to be produced by the first industrial processes."
Patch: Does Calligaris carry its own brand of furniture, or does it cover other furniture brands, or both?
Calligaris: "Calligaris carries its own brand of furniture."
Patch: How would you describe the furnishings offered by Calligaris?
Calligaris: "Calligaris creates stylish and adaptable chairs, tables, sofas, beds and accessories perfect for any contemporary home. Each piece combines sleek Italian design with the highest level of functionality. Calligaris incorporates its four pillars of Italian style into each piece of furniture—modern design, excellent craftsmanship, ingenuity and everyday appeal."
Patch: What is trending now in home furnishings? Are European trends different from those that you have observed in cities in the U.S.?
Calligaris: "Clients want furniture pieces that are beautiful but also serve a purpose."
Calligaris is located on the second floor of 5252 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington, DC. The store's entrance is on Jenifer Street NW.