Italian flair in the City of Gold
Bulgari, the magnificent and contemporary Italian jeweler, master of coloured gemstones, opened the first monobrand boutique in Johannesburg, in the premier shopping destination Sandton City.
Following the renovation of the historical Roman flagship in 2014 and the launch of the new flagship in London New Bond Street in early 2016, the new architectural concept by the Architect Peter Marino is now under roll out in key worldwide locations. Now, Rome is finally meeting Africa: in the newly opened Johannesburg’s store, the Mediterranean origins and Italian touch pervade the space, creating a sort of virtual journey in a street of the eternal city, like a time travel in 2700 years of Roman inspiration.
The dominant idea is to utilize ancient marbles and stones typical of Roman buildings and to express them in a classic geometry open to modern interpretation, in a continuous interplay between innovation and tradition. The first example is the 100 sqm store façade, where the Black Grand Antique marble and Travertino Navona columns frame the entrance and the four institutional Cream and Saffron coloured windows. The marbles, which express the brand’s heritage and Italian origin, alternates with another brand’s signature, the Star Skin pattern, in which the origami tiles, in the different gold tones of Bulgari jewels, fold each other into a starred pattern.
On the inside, flooring features Italian walnut parquet in a geometric pattern, with a degrade effect which simulates an Italian luminous ambience flooded by natural sunlight. A further example of Italian craftsmanship, the walnut wood is not only carefully sourced and selected, then dried in direct sunlight in different periods of time, to be finally composed on site by skilled Italian artisans, in order to create the ‘degrade’ final effect.
Entering the store is like a walk in the ancient city of Rome. In the main central area, an oval shaped counter in light galvanized iron, inspired by the renowned Italian architect Carlo Scarpa, is an invitation to browse the shop and to explore the Bulgari main iconic collections. On top of them, two Murano crystal chandelier by Vistosi (Ecos, designed by the Venetian studio Renato Toso, Noti Massari e Associati) enlighten the products and the atmosphere.
Adorned with Imperial Saffron shantung silk, the iconic Condotti windows on the walls are a further remind for the original ones that are still present in the original historical flagship in Rome Condotti 10. The brand touch is also provided throughout the shop transformed into a Bulgari art-gallery: walls are decorated with Vintage most famous endorsements of celebrities who have been truly fan or ambassadors of the brand’s Italian exciting lifestyle.
Further enriching the shopping experience, a truly personal touch is provided by semi-private areas – Male Watches, Accessories and VIP area – where the most precious creations can be viewed with privacy. The rooms are defined by portals in Pantheon Mesh (Maglia Pantheon ) with a see through effect, a bronze-lattice work screen whose design was inspired by the Roman Pantheon’s floor with the additional motif of the iconic Bulgari eight-pointed star.
The balance between ancient and new, tradition and innovation, which defines the Bulgari spirit, is also expressed through the décor and furniture. In a continuous remind to the Italian designers of the 50’s and 60’s, the 130 sqm space houses some furniture carefully selected by Peter Marino himself and conceived by the Italian designers who have had link with the Bulgari heritage, such as the sales tables by Franco Albini and the marble counters inspired by Carlo Scarpa. Peter Marino did a very clever move in taking those great Italian avant garde designers that were able to give a brave modern twist to noble and classic materials such as bronze or marble. And this is exactly what Bulgari does with jewels: the combinations of color gemstones and the unexpected use of different materials.
To read more about the history of the brand Bulgari, please enjoy the article in Opulent Living Magazine.