Finding that perfect alchemy of comfort, character and creativity is every interior designer’s greatest challenge. Deputy Chairman and Director of Design at Rocco Forte Hotels, Olga Polizzi keeps her finger firmly on the pulse of design trends while carefully considering the history and culture of each hotel’s location. Here, she shares a behind the scenes glimpse of the design process and her passion for interiors.
How did your passion for design develop?
“I have always been interested in design – I went to art school and fell into hotel interior design afterwards. My father, Lord Charles Forte, ran the biggest hotel and catering company in the world, with 800 hotels. Forte Hotels had a big design department with a team of about 30 people, including architects, designers and project managers, so it seemed natural for me to join that department.”
Tell us about your inspirations and how you approach each new design project.
“My inspiration for the design of our hotels always starts with the place. Each of our hotels has its own identity. I start by getting to know the city I am working in and reading its history, then I look at the location and the style of the building for inspiration and it builds from there.”
How do you work to reflect your personality, the values of Rocco Forte Hotels, and each destination in your work?
“I always use local artists and artisans, and I try to get things made in the country in which I am working as this immediately gives a feeling of authenticity. They say I have my own look, but each hotel also mirrors the feel of the city it is in, which creates a sense of individuality that is part of Rocco Forte Hotels’ values.”
Rocco Forte Hotels unveiled several new suites in 2017. Please tell us about the key aspects of these designs that you are proudest of.
“Most of the suites have small libraries. I like to choose the books myself, curating them so they are relevant to the location of the hotel and the suite. Bathrooms are very important and all of them have their own large double showers and unusual marbles. I usually like to incorporate an armchair in the bathroom to add extra comfort. Comfort is of upmost importance, not only in suites but in all bedrooms across the hotels.”
What changes did you make to the iconic Kipling Suite at Brown’s Hotel?
“Having merged with the Albemarle Suite, the Kipling Suite is much larger and more luxurious. The suite has beautiful cornicing, and the original fireplace in the sitting room and its large entrance with double doors and mirrored wall lends an open and bright feel. With regards to décor, the unusual painted console table from the ‘40s is the focal point of the hall, together with Michael Lambrecht lamps made out of London railings.
The bathroom is particularly luxurious, with Arabescato white veined marble in the 16sqm en-suite, which has a freestanding bath as well as a double shower. There’s also a beautiful Alabaster chandelier and contemporary sculptural shell wall lights from Porta Romana.
A white plaster monkey hangs outside the main door of the suite, which is a nod to the suite’s namesake, Rudyard Kipling, who wrote The Jungle Book while staying at Brown’s Hotel. All the Rudyard Kipling books are in the suite library and we also have a framed hand-written letter from Rudyard Kipling, penned and sent during a stay at Brown’s Hotel many years ago, on the wall in the suite’s hall.”
Can you tell us about Hotel de Russie's Picasso Suite, and how you represented the artist’s personality in your design?
“The Picasso suite is so called because Pablo Picasso would stay at Hotel de Russie and lean out of the window to pluck oranges from the trees in the hotel’s garden, which the suite overlooks. It is brighter and brasher than other suites, with splashes of strong Picasso colours.
There are original Picasso posters that have been reframed hanging on the walls and cushions with depictions of Picasso’s women, embellishing the sofas. For décor, there are antique pieces mixed with classic modern Italian furniture, and a few eclectic decorative objects.”
Hotel de Russie's Popolo Suite has a classic feel. Why did you choose the theme and how did you achieve this through your design and furnishings?
“The classic feeling of the Popolo Suite came from our desire to keep the original feel of the Hotel de Russie, which is considered one of the best hotels in Rome. The suite’s timber floors in combination with antiques and mid-century pieces add to this feeling, as do the papal oranges, purples, and yellows. The pièce de résistance of the suite is the wonderfully large terrace that overlooks the Piazza del Popolo, one of the most beautiful in Rome, and a wonderful place to have your breakfast.”
Guests staying in a Rocco Forte suite can take full advantage of the Rocco Forte Hotels Suite Experience benefits.