Interior contract solutions: the use of stainless steel in Fendi “Rhinoceros” Palace

A 360° Interior contract solutions: here is how we contributed to the executive design and the construction of the exclusive Interiors of the Alda Fendi Foundation “Rhinoceros” Palace in Rome.

Today we’ll talk about a renovation project that has in the use of metals – especially functional stainless steel blocks – its concept and style reference point.

With six floors dedicated to the art, from the strong sign and non-conventional, this architecture always in tension is an engine for creativity and a place of culture to produce experiments in complete freedom. Rhinoceros, inspired by The Arcades Project by Walter Benjamin, offers an innovative and extra-ordinary way, with exhibitions, multimedia creation, action, artistic interferences ranging from visual art to performance… (source:



A 360° Interior Contract solutions: the renovation of “Rhinoceros”

Devoto Design’s job was to define, engineer, coordinate, manufacture and install the fit-out of the 24 artist residences, café, panoramic restaurant and exhibition areas. More specifically:

  • Wall paint and finish, floor finish, light construction works
  • In all apartment: engineering and manufacture of the functional stainless steel block, a big box in contrast with the storicity of the building that contains the bathroom, bed headboard, wardrobe and a kitchenette enclosed by a motorized rocker
  • Manufacture and installation of all fixed furniture
  • Supply and installation of all fixtures
  • Manufacturing and installation of all the delivered items

 Thanks to a fruitful cooperation with the local architects (arch. Livia Tani and arch. Alessandro Carbone). But let’s start from the beginning…


The “contradictions” and originality of “Rhinoceros”

For this extraordinary and innovative renovation project, Devoto Design was appointed “Interior Contractor” to turn the building into something new. Designed by the well-known Starchitect Jean Nouvel, the restoration works involved the entire building located in the archeological heart of Rome, surrounded by important monuments such as the Mouth of Truth, the Temple of Hercules and the Arch of Janus.

Specifically we have delivered the Fit Out works, been involved since the very beginning of the executive design.

The Fendi Rhinoceros Palace is the result of three historic buildings belonging to different ages (1640, 1682 and the most recent 1813) that have been joined into one big residential unit. The building develops on six levels and includes a suggestive roof terrace, with one-of-a-kind view of Rome.

Idea behind the restoration project of the building refers to the concepts of “contradiction” and “contrast” and translates into the use of industrial materials such as steel, metal, and glass. Of great aesthetical and conceptual impact and interest is the choice of maintaining all the “historical sedimentations” of the three buildings that compose the Palace. The strong presence of steel blocks inserted into the historical context of the architectural elements creates the contrast the designers conceived: that’s the stylistic element that marks the “Rhinoceros”. Jean Nouvel would say at the end of the works:

Construire à Rome est difficile. L’architecte est logiquement obligé de respecter la hiérarchie des architectures historiques, nous sommes donc tenus à une grande sobriété.  That is: “It is hard to build in Rome. The architect is logically forced to respect the hierarchy of the historic architetcures, so we need to keep a strong sobriety.” (Jean Nouvel)



Interiors of the”Rhinoceros”: Devoto Design Interior Contractor

The contrast between the modernism of the steel and the original wall and floors is all in the Interiors. Every apartment and suite of the Palace is different from the other. Every space is unique, and the presence of stainless steel and the other materials gives every space strong originality and recognizability at the same time. Besides steel, we have solid wood, epoxy resin, and solid surface, a material similar to stone and pleasant to the touch.

The project is animated by all the elements the building is immersed in: Roman history, the traces of the previous inhabitants, its architectural configuration. In this shell – that the design deeply respected – with its walls made of layers of grout, optical tiles and rhythmic windows, we inserted the contemporary items: stainless steel functional blocks and design furniture based on a colour palette that defines rhythm, spaces and finishes. (Devoto Design)

The juxtaposition of ancient and modern elements is visible in every apartment and suite. An example is the presence of steel kitchenettes together with shutters that reproduce the images of the original historic walls and floors of the building, creating a suggestive trompe-l’oeil.

The Functional blocks – the identity elements of the project – look like “silent monoliths” in the space. Actually, as it is possible to see, the blocks can be opened. Some of them are equipped with engine rockers, flush doors and sliding doors and welcome the bathroom and kitchen without mining the expressive strength of the original space. In this way the blocks themselves define the layout of each space.

Fun fact

As some of you might know, this kind of cladding usually require a wooden substructure that can eventually be covered in steel. 

In this case, Ateliers Jean Nouvel specifically asked to have a steel cladding that would clang, like when knocking on a garage door.

This meant that we had to eliminate the wooden substructure and engineer the claddings anew, because hinges and fixing point needed a new configuration, having no substructure to anchor to..



“Rhinoceros” changes: Devoto Design moves in

During the starting works, significant modifications to the original design were made. This meant that most of the items needed to be re-engineered while works had already started and were going on.

Devoto Design project team decided then to establish a temporary site office inside the building to control all the survey, engineering and approval procedure in real time.

An exciting challenge we’re proud we have faced. A project we were able to complete successfully and in due time thanks to the wonderful job done by our professionals.



Interior Contract solutions: the numbers of the “Rhinoceros”

Here are some significative numbers of the project we took care of as Interior Contractor:

  • 3.500 sqm surface
  • 8.080 hours of Shop Drawing
  • 10.356 hours of Project Management
  • 9.149 hours of Manufacturing
  • 18.105 hours of Installation
  • 24 spaces dedicated to residences, exhibitions and shops
  • 1 restaurant
  • 1 bar
  • 2 years from the first survey to the end of the works

Michelangelo, Ionesco, Beckett, Man Ray and Luis Bunuel, El Greco, Pasolini, Sultan Bin Fahad are among the exhibitions that are possible to visit at the Rhinoceros gallery. A special mention to the suggestive restaurant Entr’acte and its beautiful view of Rome both during the day and at night.

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