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Bulgari - Interview with Fabrizio Buonamassa

Bulgari Interview with Fabrizio Buonamassa

Bulgari’s watch designer talks about the creative process and the brand’s biggest design successes.

What are your priorities for 2018?
The same as every year: developing the Bulgari brand in different ways, and evolving its three pillars – Lvcea, Octo and Serpenti – while respecting the Bulgari style. The brand isn’t changing direction.

Bulgari watches received many accolades in 2017 and 2018. Which was the most important to you?
We were awarded three major prizes in three different domains. In watchmaking, the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève was incredible. For me personally, I’m a designer; I’ve designed cars, jewellery and watches. So winning the iF Design Award and the Red Dot Design Award, which we received in Germany in July, that was something genuinely different, because our watches were in competition with all sorts of other objects. That means that the Octo is not just a watch, it’s a design icon: it’s recognised as a piece of design that’s different from others. As a designer, it was extremely rewarding to receive this distinction.

Which, out of all the achievements of the last decade, do you feel has been the most well-deserved?
Probably the success of the Octo. It has a really incredible history. It started in-house in 2005 with Gérald Genta, and over the years we created an entirely new kind of product in the men’s dress watch segment, based on a highly contemporary design that is completely integrated with Bulgari’s DNA. There’s considerable potential for developing this product further. The Octo line was developed in three completely different directions simultaneously, with the original sports watch family, the classical Roma (which has the broadest appeal) and the Finissimo family, which is the ultimate elegant watch.  We have given it Italian styling, along with a really innovative way of playing with materials: steel, carbon, titanium, gold, platinum. That’s the hardest thing from a design point of view, because it’s easy to reinvent the wheel, but less easy to play with very rigid constraints.

Interview with Fabrizio Buonamassa

Fabrizio Buonamassa © Bulgari

Where do you draw your inspiration, other than from the brand’s heritage?
Everywhere! But I’m inspired by very simple, elegant things, because that’s often the hardest to do well. I’m greatly inspired by designers’ ability to play around imaginatively with a single material, explain what it needs to accomplish, and be innovative with boundaries. These are the reasons why I love working for Bulgari. Every time we revisit the Serpenti, or the Octo, they remain Serpenti and Octo: that’s true design. Inspiration is everywhere. The only time I unplug my brain is when I’m on my motorbike!

Do you believe that the Bulgari watch will one day be the starting point for a jewellery piece?
It’s already happened: the Serpenti has inspired a necklace. The evolution of the Monete with the Octo Roma has inspired jewellery pieces. It’s all part of the brand strategy. And that means it’s very important to have communication between the two departments, to understand the true potential of both the watches and the jewellery.

You’re a designer. How do you collaborate with pure watchmakers?
It works very well at Bulgari. Everyone knows that the brand has a design DNA, with surfaces and shapes that have to be respected.  It’s not only the people responsible for movements that decide. We design the shape of the bridges, the finishes, the rotors and all the parts together, because for an Italian designer, the aesthetic component carries the same weight as the functional component. There would be no point in Bulgari designing a beautiful movement, and then hiding it in the case. The initial impulse comes from either the watchmakers or the designers, but everyone brings the potential they see for the brand. For example, with the Octo Finissimo, I explained that I needed a movement with the small seconds counter at 8 o’clock, because I had different layout in mind, but keeping the 12 and 6 on the dial, which is part of our DNA. We worked it out together. That’s how the latest generation of the Octo Finissimo was born.

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Bulgari has its own clear definition of excellence, which involves the perfect balance between design, added-value, quality of its products and its worldwide service. In the case of Bulgari watches, it all started with the Bulgari Bulgari watch that led to the creation of Bulgari Time in Switzerland in 1982.

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