At a time when easy access and instant visibility are widely seen as basic industry requirements, Giampiero Bodino has chosen to take the opposite approach to business and design.
This story first appeared in the November 4, 2015 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
His stunning high-jewelry pieces are one-of-a-kind items that can be purchased by appointment only, mainly at Milan’s Villa Mozart, a discreet venue designed by architect Piero Portaluppi in the Thirties, nestled in a garden and opposite the equally beautiful Villa Necchi Campiglio. It’s all about word of mouth rather than banners, loud ad campaigns, or aggressive marketing.
“I am aware I chose the most difficult path, but, also in light of my journey so far, this is the path that interests me the most. It’s the less obvious one,” said Bodino in the spacious, light-filled living room of Villa Mozart, decorated with Chinese and Japanese vases and Fifties and Sixties furniture. Tall, elegant and clad in a slim, dark Dsquared2 suit, when asked about his tastes in fashion, he points to brands including Ralph Lauren, but said he likes to experiment and “have fun” with his clothes, with a strong sense of individualism, mixing military pants with English tweed or combat boots, for example.
After so many years working in the industry, he said it was “inevitable for me to think in terms of unique pieces. It’s a conflict for me to conceive the same design in multiple pieces. A dream is individual, not shared, but discreet and imaginative.”
Bodino values the relationship he builds with his customers, who often make special requests for personalized pieces. “I hope to build a sense of loyalty, evolving with them.”
Prices depend on the individual piece, since they are all one-of-a kind-products. The starting price is about 50,000 euros, or about $55,300 at current exchange. He uses a variety of stones including diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, rubies, spinels, rubellites, tanzanites, tourmalines, amethyst, chrysoprase, opal and chalcedony, as well as pink and white gold.
Born in Turin, Italy, the designer and artist, who trained as an architect and switched to jewelry design, honed his industrial design skills under Giorgetto Giugiaro, the famous automotive designer, and then Gianni Bulgari, working for the Roman jeweler for a decade. Bodino has been group art director for Compagnie Financière Richemont since 2002, overseeing brands ranging from Cartier to Van Cleef & Arpels. The Giampiero Bodino label is controlled by Compagnie Financière Richemont and was launched in November 2013 — the first brand to be developed from Square One for the luxury group.
On the walls at the Villa hang several of Bodino’s paintings — generally portraits — as he prepares for an exhibition in Milan in January, although the designer is quick to underscore that he has always maintained his two creative outlets entirely separate. He recalled how his first drawings were inspired by his childhood fairy tales.
“Jewelry has nothing to do with art and vice versa,” he said. While his portraits are in black-and-white, Bodino explores color with his jewelry, often inspired by nature, and is strongly influenced by Italian art and culture, from the exquisite mosaics of Ravenna and the Baroque, to the Renaissance and Art Deco. Three-dimensional, tactile and flexible volumes are key to Bodino’s aesthetics as well as elaborate symmetries of precious stones and diamonds. He works with antique cameos as well as with themes including geometric shapes, compass roses, heraldry symbols and fantastic animals, such as the mythological Chimera. He sketches each piece and his drawings are finely detailed works of art themselves.
His goal is also to create objects that are “not out of context,” and that remain as “souvenirs of the moment.”