Palazzo Forti

Via Buonarroti, 1 | Carrara


My family is tied to the city of Carrara through a long-standing tradition which curiously mixes marble with flour manufacturing. The first great entrepreneur in my family was my great-grandfather, whose children inherited commercial businesses and real estate. This included a 1920s-era building in the historic centre of Carrara, which has belonged to my family for more than 90 years. It was used by local secondary schools specializing in accounting and chemistry first, and as an adjunct building of the Fine Arts Academy during the past twenty years, housing courses in scenography, photography, engraving and mixed-media art. For the last two years it has been vacant, therefore I came up with the idea – given my work in the field of contemporary art – of readapting it as a multi-purpose space that would maintain a connection to its previous calling and fall within the realm of my professional experience.

conferences area

Palazzo Forti, conferences area

The building currently houses an array of activities: on the ground floor there is an area devoted to cinema, theatre and conferences, with a temporary bar and a space for educational workshops. It is important to state that this is a work in progress: next year the conference area may have been transformed into a restaurant, and the bar area into a showroom. It is this dynamism that allows me to objectively assess the community’s response, and adjust our offering accordingly. We also have a private sculpting studio (150 square metres) that is usually chosen by foreign artists who come to work in Carrara for brief periods. There is also a basement-level floor that has been currently allocated for video screenings. The first floor is separated into one wing of private artists’ studios, and one wing which houses the showroom for DATABASE, the program I started in 2012 that features internationally acclaimed artists – including Sam Durant, Yuri Ancarani, Graham Hudson and many others – invited to design site-specific artworks inspired by the historical, environmental and cultural heritage of this portion of land set between the Apuan Alps and the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Artist studios

Palazzo Forti, studios for freelance artists and artisans

While the ground-level studios are assigned to sculpture, the first floor houses studios for freelance artists, artisans and other professionals: painting, architectural design, a luthier, a leather craftsman and stylist are some of the professional figures coexisting in the micro-cosmos of our ateliers and with the DATABASE showroom. Within the DATABASE showroom you can view or purchase artworks, productions, and site-specific exhibitions by some of the artists who have taken part in our 2012 and 2013 programmes.


Palazzo Forti, apartment for artist residencies

The second and final level houses an apartment for artist residencies, which can also be rented for brief periods to anyone wishing to reside in Carrara. My policy is that every space should provide financial support for the creation and renovation of a new portion of the building, and that each new section be adaptable to arising requirements. The décor is definitely a mixture of mid-century modern, vintage, and flea-market finds.

The spaces can be leased for a duration spanning from a single day to up to one year. This strategy allows us to have truly dynamic energy in the building, in which people from different fields meet and coexist. The building’s assorted occupants are all fully independent, however, a natural exchange immediately formed among all of us. During its start-up phase, DATABASE has been playing a crucial role in planning events that involve all of the many occupants that bring the building to life.

Federica Forti


Total surface: 1300 square metres; studios vary from 20 square metres up to 150 square metres

Communication strategy: we create period events to promote the activity of the building’s occupants  

Spillover on the city: Carrara is in need of a cultural push, and of players who elicit opportunities for exchange. With its self-sustaining financial policy, Palazzo Forti does not place a burden on the public system

For information on leasing: +39 347 0955010;