Rome wasn't built in a day and neither was Peter Marino's latest retail triumph for Bulgari, but it will sure go into the architectural history books, which is exactly where the American creative began this project.
‘Peter Marino mixed the more contemporary with the traditional,’ says Bulgari's UK managing director Vincent Reynes, on a private tour of the luxury brand’s magnificent new New Bond Street flagship that is lavished with artfully contained design decadence. ‘Everything is reminiscent of Rome,’ he reinforces proudly, ‘Even the display cases reference the shape of the flagship Via Condotti windows!’Writer: Katrina Israel; Photography: Jessica Klingelfuss
Flooded with dazzling light from both its faceted New Bond Street windows, and an impressive second floor skylight (formally unheard of in this jewellery district), the majestic boutique is a fusion of heritage and modernity and above all a testament to artisan craftsmanship, which Marino has explored through sumptuous textures, converging patterns, opulent fixtures and megawatt furnishings
The flagship itself is a typology of marble. Complementing the store’s spotlight on spectacular stones, from myriad marbles to travertines – even the white mosaic entry glitters underfoot, as glass runs through the marble, illuminating the floor in the same manner as jewels. ‘There are many symbols from the Pantheon,’ adds Reynes of its columns. But as traditional as its marble colonnades may be, the store’s sense of flow is much more experimental. Our favourite marquetry element is the marble strips inserted into wooden doorway frames, mimicking a technique used in Roman palaces
This 'Eros' table, composed of rainbow-hued Pavonazzetto marble, is an industrial piece originally designed by Angelo Mangiarotti and now produced and distributed by Agape Casa. Here it showcases one-of-a-kind emerald and diamond earrings (from 1964), which were re-acquired by Bulgari in 2013 from Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida’s personal collection
The store’s furniture pieces, which range from Mario Bellini’s original 1977 red Persian travertine table produced by Cassina, to a variety of Angelo Mangiarotti’s cone-legged marble console tables (pictured), are as volumetric as the brand's jewellery. ‘We've come back to this idea of Bulgari as the bold brand that it is,’ says Reynes of the store’s unabashed majesty
That said, the boutique’s crown is easily its faceted floating staircase (pictured right), composed of geometric hexagonal steps, which have been expertly laid so that the veins of marble correspond as you ascend. It was inspired by Italian architect Carlo Scarpa’s Palazzo Abatellis, and is surrounded by a ‘Pantheon’ mesh grid and lit from below, so that it luminates a warm glow
A fusion of heritage and modernity, hand-stitched, stamped green suede has been juxtaposed with textured concrete in a ground floor salon. The second floor showcases a fragrance and handbag area, along with two palatial VIP lounges – designed to resemble 1960s gentlemen’s clubrooms. The brand’s accompanying residential-style ‘Happening’ room, is decadently destined to house soirées befitting the Dolce Vita era of former client Elizabeth Taylor
Here, the walnut floor has even been bleached by the sun to create a warm, dégradé effect; ‘Like the Roman sun!’ says Reynes. It has then been laid in a parquetry of geometric curves, while the store’s bespoke carpets also follow the texture of its glorious marble
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