Spazio Leone, the New Furniture Dealers Specialising in Cult Classics

Pin It
Spazio Leone at Hackney Downs Studios
Spazio Leone at Hackney Downs Studios

“Beautiful things just make me happy”: Gennaro Leone discusses his new furniture venture Spazio Leone, a London-based dealers specialising in cult design classics with an Italian bent

Gennaro Leone’s new furniture dealership, Spazio Leone, was created during lockdown. Leone, who is from Naples originally but has spent the past ten years living in London, has always had an avid interest in objects. “Beauty is such an important thing for me,” he tells me over the phone as he prepares orecchiette (“lunch is very important for Italians”). “Whether that’s in food, in music, in objects … Beautiful things just make me happy.” While on furlough from his job in music, Leone was finally able to invest the time and energy that converts a passion into a career, and to source pieces of furniture that would launch Spazio. 

Already a collector’s favourite, scroll the Spazio Leone Instagram feed and you’ll see a selection that balances a knowledge of cult design classics with an eye for distinctive, one-off finds. Gaetano Pesce’s seminal 1986 Feltri chair, for instance, sits alongside a memorable person-sized iron candelabra. A collection with an Italian bent, but by no means of exclusively Italian pieces, these are confident objects with personality. It’s an interpretation of good taste that’s not self-serious or uptight; it leaves room for playfulness. Sculptural forms and bold colours are prevalent themes.

“I buy things that I know. If they’re not going to sell then they can stay at home, because I like them,” says Leone. “So I think the home is my first shop, really. Anything that I buy, worst case scenario, it stays at home.” 

“I don’t think I ever buy things because I know they sell,” he continues. “I could probably try to follow trends, look to what other people are selling and just do the same, but I don’t think that’s how it works. It’s all about timing. I think you do your own research, and buy what you like, and you make this brand of yourself. People will come because they believe in your taste.” 

Operating for the past year out of Committee of Taste’s shop just off the Kingsland Road, this February sees Leone take over a space of his very own in nearby Hackney Downs Studios. I’m wary here of using words like ‘showroom’ or ‘store’ because they don’t feel quite right to describe what Spazio Leone offers. Yes, it’s a place to view and buy furniture. But there’s a formality to the ‘showroom’; it implies a stuffiness, and ‘store’ puts the emphasis all on the transaction. At Spazio Leone, it feels different.

Leone has long had a dream to one day open a hybrid guesthouse/artist’s residency/studio, a physical space to house his passions for food, music, and design. Spazio Leone feels like the early iteration of this; there’s a conviviality, you want to linger. And while research and rigour are cornerstones of Spazio – “it’s all about knowledge; understanding materials, understanding the designer, the style, the period” – there’s an approachability for novices too. It’s not intimidating. 

It can be easy to get distracted by beauty, but with furniture in particular, aesthetics have to be underpinned by functionality: “While I look for interesting design, I think it’s also important to understand the quality and how something was made,” says Leone. “If you chose this piece for your home, then this thing is going to be with you for probably most of your life.”

Spazio Leone is open by appointment (email at Hackney Downs Studios from February 4.