As the daughter and sister of prominent hoteliers Charles and Rocco Forte, Olga Polizzi’s life has been a creative journey around the very best in hospitality, working on prestigious hotel projects around the world. She is currently director of design and deputy chairman of Rocco Forte Hotels. Join Olga for the BIID Annual Conference’s Keynote Conversation as she speaks to Studio editor Kate Burnett on the morning of Thursday 8 November.
When was the company founded? The current company – Rocco Forte Hotels – was founded 21 years ago. I am deputy chairman and director of design and I work with the chairman, my brother Rocco Forte.
How many staff? In my immediate team there are six, plus me (an architect, an interior designer, two project managers, and two assistants)
Where is it based? Our offices are based on Jermyn Street in central London.
What is your latest notable project? The restaurant and bar in Browns Hotel, which have turned out quite nicely. We have also been working on some suites at Villa Kennedy, our hotel in Frankfurt, Germany. I’m also currently very involved in our project in Puglia in southern Italy, where we are designing 10 new rooms. I’ve just spent the last eight days in Puglia.
I’ve just discovered… I’ve been discovering the many beautiful products we can use for our Puglia project. When I design hotels, I want there to be a sense of place – if you’re in Rome, I want it to look like Rome. I’d like to think I am known for mixing things together, rather than buying products from catalogues or companies. I love acquiring things for our projects – I’m a buyaholic, but I know we have to be very careful about our budgets! In Puglia we’ve been looking at china and pottery (lamps, plates) and we have commissioned a local man, Signor del Monaco, to create all the shower panels. We also take fabrics from a local foundation where disabled people weave cloth on looms. Buying locally helps the community and makes a connection as well as giving a sense of place and provenance.
Who inspires me… Kit Kemp (owner of Firmdale Hotels) – her work is totally different from mine. It’s always nice to see other people’s work. We recently stayed at her Hotel Whitby in New York and it made me think that I’ve got to do a bit more, use more mixtures in my work.
I’ve always been a fan of… Mixtures are good – and too much of anything is too much!
My highlight of the last 12 months… I am always very work-focused, as my family will attest, but we always try and take the whole family to our Verdura Resort in Sicily for two weeks in the summer. That’s where we can have fun and really relax.
My next design trip is to… I’m currently spending two days a week in Milan working on the Puglia project, but I will also be taking the train to Rome for the day. And I will be visiting Edinburgh with my brother [Sir Rocco Forte] looking at our hotel there – The Balmoral – and trying to decide what really needs to be done in the quiet months at the beginning of next year.