If you've been following my instagram feed you know that I spent the last two weeks with my daughter Paloma in Rome and Palermo. And if you're a long time customer of Beklina, you'll recognize Abigail, who's been modeling for Beklina going on almost a decade. Even though, I very much miss having in her California (her style and vibe is hard to come by), what she's been up to in Rome has me feeling a mix of envy, pride and awe.
Abigail is one of the founding members of a unique poly-functional space in the heart of Rome, Daforma. If you find yourself in Rome, it is an absolute must. Come for a drink, a meal, a dress, a bouquet, and tour the gallery. You'll bump into someone, or two; the dots will connect and magic will happen.
Angelina: When was Daforma founded, and who are the founders and their backgrounds.
Abigail: Daforma opened mid-December 2017. It was founded by myself, Simone Menasse and Claudio Salvatore. We all come from pretty different backgrounds—I studied marketing and communications and have worked as a copyeditor, TV hostess and model; Simone studied Architecture and has opened a plethora of bars and restaurants in Rome, the first when he was only 20 years old, all with innovative formats bringing something fresh and new to a very traditional city; Claudio studied industrial and interior design and has worked with Simone designing and running a few bars and restaurants.
What is each person’s biggest strength they bring to production?
Simone’s strength is the experience and know-how he brings to Daforma. As a seasoned entrepreneur and architect, he is a genius when it comes to scouting out unique, industrial buildings and repurposing them—as he did with the spaces of Daforma, 500sqm in the center of Rome with a courtyard that had previously been used as a gym and beauty center, abandoned for years before Simone found it—as well as leaping through the hurdles of Italian bureaucracy, saving both enormous amounts of time and money.
Claudio’s strength is his sense of aesthetic and experience researching and working in the design field.
My strength I guess is bringing both a foreign and feminine perspective to Daforma.
What has been the biggest surprise, or something you just didn’t see coming, since you’ve opened your doors.
One big surprise was realising how much work it would be to open a poly-functional business. It was like opening five businesses at once: restaurant, bar, gallery, temporary store, florist. Each sector needed special care and skilfulness to be developed, and specific ways to be communicated while coexisting with the other areas. As owners we are only in three, and we are all working a bit out of our expertise and comfort zone, so the beginning was rocky and a huge learning experience for everyone.
Luckily we work with phenomenally talented collaborators: Carlo Pratis, manager of our gallery space, Giulia Brucculeri, director of our restaurant and bar, and Silvia Bergomi, in charge of brand research and selection for our temporary store. Without whom, Daforma would have never taken shape.
Is most of the clientele tourists or locals?
For now mostly locals, but I’m not sure how long it will stay that way.
Besides Italians, what countries do you get the most visitors?
Slowly more tourists have been coming to Daforma, from all over the world. I suppose mostly from other European countries, such as France, England, Spain, etc.
Most popular cocktail at the bar?
Oh My Clementine: sake, lime, ginger, fresh squeezed clementines
While having dinner and watching people come into the gallery, have drinks and meet with friends, I felt a strong vibe of mystery. It was unique and cool, and I couldn’t pin it down. I’m guessing it’s because there isn’t just one thing Daforma is, and you can’t just fit it easily into a box. What's your take on this?
That might have been because you witnessed some bizarre moments at Daforma! Like meeting the older, Italian gentleman suitor I had for a while, who would have his driver drop me off gifts everyday, the last of which were two cockatiels and a white dove.
Other than that, in general I think the mystery you mention comes from, as you say, Daforma not being just one thing, and so everyone who enters experiences and perceives the place in a different way. It creates an open atmosphere where everything and anything can happen… that is also strengthened by our, the owners, own desire to experiment and have fun. The mood of Daforma is quite intimate for this reason, people tend to feel at home, where there is no format or function to dictate how one must act.
What’s on the horizon?
I’m not sure… but I’ve received feedback from tourists that they would love to have a Daforma in their city… so maybe we will franchise and spread the love! However things will go, I plan on staying in Rome, where my heart has set its roots.