Francesco Paolini

What makes a good dealer and decorator? A good dose of determination and thinking outside the box make for a recipe for success. We talked to a star in the making of the European vintage furniture scene: meet Italian yet London-based Francesco Paolini.

Switching jobs and field of work is never easy, however, only the boldest and bravest always seem to manage. Francesco Paolini, an Italian yet London based dealer and decorator, and now owner of Tablinum, an interior design firm based between London and Paris, is one of them.

How did he get where he is now? A healthy dose of courage and determination always do the deed, yet it is his attention to detail and his tasteful selection of vintage furniture around the world for a number of clients that has attracted the attention of people. A love for multiculturalism is part of his practice and everyday life in the hustling creative city that is London.
Discover all about him and his love for food, design and more in our insider’s guide.

We know you were in finance before becoming a design dealer and decorator, tell us a bit more about how that happened and your company Tablinum?

It happened somehow naturally as I pursued my passion for design and interiors but, at the same time, it took some thinking outside of the box and a good dose of determination. I’m also grateful for the trust I received from all my clients from the beginning which really motivated me throughout.
Today while supplying some of the most reputable design galleries and interior designers with exclusive vintage pieces, I have started my own interior design studio with exciting projects underway in London and Paris.

Why London, what fascinates you about the city?

London has one of the most intriguing social setting I have seen thus far, with an incredible multiculturalism and a rare ability to suit every social background. Few cities, in my opinion, can compete with London in terms of cultural mix. I find this aspect to be the most exciting about the city, and it allows you to learn about the world simply by walking through different neighborhoods or venturing to a new restaurant every week.
I need to live in a city which pushes me to think and to grow both as a person and as a citizen which is why I believe London is especially stimulating. Also the proximity to Europe makes it all so convenient, because I do travel to the continent often.

It’s Frieze/PAD week, what places would you recommend for an injection of culture and inspiration?

It’s a very interesting week with some of the most influential people from the art and design world coming to town. Just walk around the streets of Mayfair and you’ll notice every gallery and auction house has a dedicated event or exhibition. I recommend visiting PAD, Frieze, Frieze Masters a few times - it’s a lot to take in over only a week. I also recommend Rick Owen’s show at Carpenters Workshop Gallery, William Brickel’s solo show curated by my friends from Repertorio, Claire Tabouret at Almine Rech Gallery and Kara Walker at the Tate Modern.

“London allows you to learn about the world simply by walking through different neighborhoods or venturing to a new restaurant every week. ”

And what about your favourite restaurants?

I’ll never get tired of London’s restaurant scene, there’s literally every cuisine you could ever wish for.
Some of my favourite spots are The Tin Shed, Opso and Clifton Nurseries for breakfast.
Ida for Italian home food in a charming 1950s trattoria setting.
Casse Croute in Bermondsey for excellent French comfort food.
Hummus Bar, Delicatessen and The Barbary for their high quality Israeli/Mediterranean menu.
London is also home to some of the best Indian restaurants in the world and I would definitely recommend Bombay Bustle, Gymkhana, Jamavar and Darjeeling Express.
Finally XU for excellent Taiwanese food in charming 1930s fumoir-like interiors.

Where do you go for some vintage shopping or for a moment to relax?

I must admit I’m not a big fan of London’s vintage furniture scene, so I do most of the shopping for my clients in Paris or abroad.
However, I do recommend a stroll around Golborne Road, Portobello Market and Church Street for some unexpected vintage finds and Pimlico Road to visit more established design galleries - Rose Uniacke is a favourite. For a moment to relax I normally go for a run in St. John’s Wood, where I live, or to White City House for a long gym and swimming session.

You love interiors and hotels, what are your favorite homes away from home?

Riad de Tarabel in Marrakech, Valverde Hotel in Lisbon, Sublime in Comporta. I’ve been going for years and it always feels like the first time; location, food and hotel staff never fail to impress.

For the best sleep over and breakfast, where would you stay in London?

I really like the cozy atmosphere and retro rooms at The Connaught. Also the Helene Darroze restaurant on the ground floor has been recently redecorated by Pierre Yovanovitch and it’s definitely worth the visit. Alternatively, I recommend staying at Chiltern Firehouse for its timelessly charming interiors by my beloved Studio KO.

If you had to get away for a weekend, where would you go - tell us your favourite getaway spots.

September and October are probably my favourite months of the year and a getaway is definitely on my mind. I haven’t been to Istanbul in a few years, so it would be great to go back. It’s one of my favourite cities and has the most incredible spots for antique shopping. I recommend staying at Soho House inside Palazzo Corpi, among the most charming buildings I know.

Last but not least, where would you fly us?

To Egypt! A few nights in the oasis of Siwa first and a cruise on board of the Nour el Nil after.