Christopher (Topher) Gabellini runs his interior design/antique/faux finish and architectural design business in Allentown, Pennsylvania. His shop is nestled in the West End Theatre District, the community he calls home.
Topher is a graduate of Spring Garden College of Philadelphia, where he majored in interior design and minored in industrial design.
Topher joined his father’s firm, Gabellini Design, after receiving his fine arts degree. Together, they did interior design for residential and commercial properties, including country clubs – Lehigh and Dupont in Delaware – and industrial properties in Texas, California and Switzerland.
Topher’s father, John Gabellini, had started the business in Vera Cruz in 1947. Before starting his own business, John had worked for Max Hess, founder of Hess’s department store. John had been responsible for buying all the antiques they used to decorate the flagship store in downtown Allentown.
“He also purchased all of the chandeliers and did a lot of the floor layouts for Hess’s,” Topher says. John Gabellini also specialized in graphic design and was responsible for the now-famous Hess’s logo: Hess’s written in cursive and repeated in red, blue and green.
Topher has taken the original Gabellini Design and added services that his father didn’t provide. Among them are faux finished and murals. Topher spent a year training in Brognoligo, Italy, outside of Naples, to learn a technique that has been handed down for many generations.
Topher used his faux finishing craft to paint a trompe l’oeil in the style of Picasso and Miro at Pistachio’s Bar & Grille at the Shops at Cedar Point in Allentown. Late Pistachio’s owner Sid Stecher applauded Topher’s work, saying he did a “wonderful job.”
Topher is able to find decorative finds, including antiques, in Bucks Country and in the antique district of New York. “Sometimes I find furniture at incredible prices at shops where they don’t know what they have,” he says. Other times he shops in stores that are open only to members of the American Society of Interior Designers.
If Topher needs a piece for a client that he can’t find or doesn’t fit in today’s lower-ceiling homes, he might have a reproduction made. He uses the same craftsman for his reproductions as his father once did. The craftsman is local, but like his recipes for his glazes, Topher says he’s a trade secret.