Denver’s newest design showroom is hosting a launch party on May 20, and you’re invited.
The addition of new showrooms to the Colorado market is a great sign for our booming design community. In recent years, Denver has very quietly become an important city for fans of thoughtful, innovative design. Something is happening here.
The newest showroom to grace the Mile High City is Rifugio Modern, which opens its doors with a launch party on Friday, May 20. We sat down with Brian Pignanelli, owner and design consultant for Rifugio Modern, to learn more about his unique journey, escaping from the excesses of our plugged-in lives, and how cooking in the best kitchens is like driving a Ferrari.
MODERN IN DENVER: Let’s start with the basics. Tell us about your vision for Rifugio Modern. What can the design community expect?
BRIAN PIGNANELLI: Well, Rifugio refers to the classic Italian mountain shelters found throughout the alps and Dolomites. They’re rustic shelters, like our Colorado Tenth Mountain Division Cabins, where climbers and hikers have always been able to take shelter.
I love to cook and have always been able to retreat from my day to the comfort of my kitchen and the meditation of cooking. I also remember how my grandfather used to hide in the bathroom from my grandmother. To me, kitchens and bathrooms are the modern refuge, the perfect shelter from our modern, plugged-in lives. Many of us love to entertain but ultimately our home is our safe corner of the world. Rifugio offers help and guidance in building that modern refuge. Your escape from modern life. The place in which you shelter your loved ones from the world while enjoying life’s finest pleasures.
MID: You’ve got an interesting and diverse background. How did you wind up here, and how has your experience influenced the way you approach your work?
BP: I’m an architect—trained, practiced, and licensed—but I’ve been designing systems architecture (kitchens, baths, closets, doors) since 2000. I opened my first showroom in Boston just as 9/11 happened, and it wasn’t long after that I decided that I wanted to do an ArcLinea showroom in Colorado… someday.
While European design flourished in the U.S., I worked with various lines. But everything quickly got out of hand, including the kitchen business, as the market flooded with second-tier junk products. As most markets crashed I stayed busy in the mountains for a while, but eventually I felt the pinch. I had serious questions as to how we had reached such a point of excess and I did some serious soul searching. I was clearly frustrated, but mostly I was looking for some sort of value in what I did, so I decided to step away from design and pursue an MBA at The University of Colorado.
During those two years I worked hard and honed my business skills, and I was happy to be back in Colorado. But after graduation and a year-long stint with a start-up I was still searching for my groove. That’s when a good friend said to me, “You earned an MBA and learned a lot. Now go build something based on what you already know well.”
Designing and building is in my blood so there was really nowhere else to go. It was so natural a path, especially given the support, network, and products that I now have with me. But I think I also benefited from the journey and time spent. There’s a different perspective about how one does business and fosters relationships that I’m now able to bring to this new venture. This Denver showroom is 15 years in the making, and I can say with confidence that it’s right on time.
MID: Tell us about a few of the lines you carry, and what distinguishes them in a crowded market?
BP: ArcLinea is where I started with systems architecture 15 years ago. They’ve been in the business for 90 years. They were one of the first Italian lines to come to the States, and their obsession with beautiful design is simply unmatched. There are a lot of Italian cars of interest, but if you had your choice wouldn’t you drive the Ferrari? ArcLinea’s kitchens are made for living in, enjoying, and getting messy. They’re for entertaining and loving. And like most beautiful Italian things they’re made to be enjoyed, to endure time and use.
Our other lines are phenomenal in their own right, too. Agape is the original modern bathroom, with its Spoon Tub having set the standard for all modern tubs. Their fixtures manage to be both precise and sexy—those words don’t usually go together, but there’s no other way to describe them. Rimadessio makes interior doors, closets, furnishings, and wall systems. I swear they produce such accurate and fine detailing they could just as easily produce airplanes. And then we have Zanotta: modern, minimal, and insanely elegant furnishings, with classic pieces by some of history’s greatest designers.
MID: What can you share about the launch party on May 20?
BP: Good friends and good food! We’ll have casual, delicious Italian bites with good wine. It’s a kick-off event, so while I hope to have many local design professionals join us, there will also be lots of friends and family there. It’s a chance to throw the doors wide open and invite a bunch of people to see what we do, but it’s also an opportunity to thank those who have helped so much in bringing this 15-year vision to life.
Any design professionals, or anyone in the market for the best in Italian design should join us. It’s easy to sign up or I can be reached by phone at 720-504-8999.