Bulgari boutique Roma

Bulgari's 130th anniversary at via dei Condotti 10

The celebrations for the anniversary started with the reopening of the legendary shop in Rome and the launch of a limited edition dedicated to the Eternal City. A guided tour of a remarkable facelift  that mixes modern elements with classic ones, but always with deep respect for each era.

By Marco Gabella
Chairman & Executive Publisher

Transformation or renovation? Attempting to renovate a venerable building like via dei Condotti 10 in Rome is a daunting task. The challenge lies in finding a coherent plan with leeway for contemporary stylistic and functional standards while preserving the heritage of the location. More often than not, the dictates of modern life force radical compromises that create conflict between the generations rather than harmonious coalescence.  One cannot help but think of I. M. Pei's famous glass pyramid in the Louvre courtyard, whose stylistic break is both shocking as well as captivating. Whether you like it or not, it's an object that divides, and that is precisely where the problem often lies.

Jean-Christophe Babin, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, Ignazio Marino & Shu Qi Jean-Christophe Babin, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, Ignazio Marino & Shu Qi

During the 20th century, following decades during which many architectural monuments were destroyed, a new understanding arose regarding the uniqueness of this heritage. Efforts were made to preserve the past from being bulldozed into oblivion.  By the same token, this sudden consciousness also prevented many projects from being completed, because they would have required wrecking a relic from the days of yore.  Anyone considering work on ancient structures will indeed face an impossible and contradictory challenge: to renovate while changing, or to transform and preserve…

Bvlgari Roma Tourbillon 130th anniversary unique piece The Bvlgari Roma Tourbillon, a unique piece for the 130th anniversary of the brand

Via dei Condotti 10: renewal in continuity

The Bulgari boutique at via dei Condotti 10 was founded in 1905 and renovating it involved all manner of challenge.  First of all, it is located in the historic heart of Rome, a short distance from the "Scalinata," the monumental late-Baroque staircase of the Piazza di Spagna. The next problem was the fact that the shop had already been subjected to three renovations and three enlargements that had encroached on the neighboring buildings. But most of all, this shop is a genuine incarnation of the Bulgari style and therefore intimately linked to the history of the brand.

Bvlgari Serpenti a high jewellery watch at Via dei Condotti 10 Bvlgari Serpenti a high jewellery watch at Via dei Condotti 10

The third transformation, which was done in 1933-34, was led by the architect Florestano Di Fausto. It was the most important one and resulted in the current facade, with its travertine arches and the central entrance. It was during this project that a small, iconoclastic detail was born: the U in the brand name on the storefront was replaced by a V, a tip of the hat to the Latin inscriptions of ancient Rome.

Peter Marino, who did the phenomenal Louis Vuitton boutique in Singapore, was chosen to head the renovation of the Bulgari store. We were privileged to discover the results of two years of work and, in a nutshell, the results are simply breathtaking. The architect not only preserved the modernist and classic references created by Di Fausto, but he even took them further.

Bulgari Via dei Condotti 10 Roma

Peter Marino updated the store's fundamentals by rehabilitating many original modernist decorative touches that had been concealed for years. He also reopened the secret door that was used to shut off one of the sales rooms reserved for VIPs. This outstanding creative master then went on to bridge the gaps between the generations all the while arranging new space, like a gallery devoted to men's watches that immediately evokes the private intimacy of British clubs.  New space indeed for an acknowledged competency in watchmaking that was not a core activity during when the place was redone in 1933-34.

Bulgari Via dei Condotti 10 Roma

The outcome is far from being a patchwork job. Rather, the dialogue between the eras and styles appears natural, the areas that have been renovated or transformed neither confront each other, nor do they seek dominance.  This ongoing and age-old conversation allows the new Bulgari store on via dei Condotti to reside firmly on its time continuum while at the same time articulating clearly the brand's contemporary spirit. Confronting the past with the present in this slightly disconcerting manner also ensures that this locale will have a place in the future.

Bulgari Via dei Condotti 10 Roma

Magnificence for 48 hours

The  superb event organized to mark an anniversary and the completion of this renovation made via dei Condotti the world's center for 48 hours. The follow-up will be an exclusive collection that we will show you in the near future. So while waiting, here is a little parade of the exceptional timepieces from the brand's heritage or dedicated to this 130th anniversary of a legendary brand…

And receive each week a custom selection of articles.

Interview with Jean-Christophe Babin: Bulgari's place in watchmaking

By Watchonista
In 2013, he remained silent about his start at Bulgari. Jean-Christophe Babin was just finishing off a thirteen-year stint at TAG Heuer. Just before the 2014...