MILAN — For the first time, storied jeweler Buccellati will stage an event and an exhibition during Milan Design Week working with four leading international contemporary designers, highlighting its collection of silverware and launching a new line of tableware with Ginori 1735.
In an exclusive interview with WWD, Gianluca Brozzetti, chief executive officer of the company, underscored the significance of this project for the brand and its owner, Compagnie Financière Richemont, and the legitimacy of Buccellati, a specialist in both jewelry and silverware since its foundation in 1919, in underwriting it.
Actually, the company for a long time was more known as a silverware company in the U.S. after Mario Buccellati launched the brand in that market in 1952, recounted Brozzetti.
“Today jewelry accounts for more than 80 percent of our business, and silverware 15 percent of the total, but silver objects represent more than half of the pieces sold,” said Brozzetti, proudly adding that Buccellati only works with sterling silver 925, which guarantees the purity of the material.
The project is especially timely given “the rediscovery of the home and the art de la table” in the wake of the prolonged lockdowns and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
The exhibition takes cues from the treaty “Il Libro del Cortegiano” by Baldassarre Castiglione, which reflects the culture of 16th-century courtiers, and from the book “Il Galateo [Etiquette] ” by Giovanni della Casa dating back to 1558, which consider the art of the table key for conviviality.
The event will focus on a contemporary reinterpretation of proper and social behavior and conventions, meant as a rediscovery of conviviality. The exhibition will be curated by Federica Sala, and, with the installation project designed by Stefano Boeri Interiors, it teamed with Dimore Studio, Ashley Hicks, Chahan Minassian and Patricia Urquiola.
“We had a long list of possible candidates, but we wanted internationally established and talented designers who would be characterized by a strong Italian connection, sharing a Milanese identity with Buccellati, each with their own specific style in order to each interpret the collections in a different way and we are very happy with the results,” said Brozzetti.
Each designer was invited to present their own interpretation of the contemporary table with one of Buccellati’s silver collections — Caviar (with tiny caviar beads); Doge (with pearls and gemstones such as lapis lazuli or malachite); Rouche (with a rouched pattern), and Tahiti (with bamboo elements) — together with the new porcelain collection developed in collaboration with Ginori 1735 called “Double Rouche – Florence Furnace.” Prices range from 4,400 euros for a flute to a tray at 8,700 euros and a bowl with gems at 91,000 euros.
Each product from the new collection, which includes plates for the table and gift sets, is presented in three colors — cream white, celadon green, and cobalt — reproducing the rouches, and produced with the ancient “vetrina” technique, immersing the objects in the paint.
Brozzetti praised the Made in Italy expertise of Ginori 1735, which is controlled by Kering, noting how well two luxury groups worked together on this project.
Prices range from 110 euros for a dessert plate to a salad bowl at 390 euros and an Asian set at 650 euros.
The tableware collection will be sold exclusively in the Buccellati boutiques around the world and on the new website the company will unveil in May or June, which will cover 15 countries from three hubs — in Milan for Europe, in New York for the U.S. and in Shanghai for China. Brozzetti, however, pointed out that Buccellati is also “working well” with e-tailers such as Net-a-porter, Mr Porter, Neiman Marcus, and Feng Mao, the joint venture established between Richemont and Alibaba.
The exhibition will be unveiled on the terrace of the Buccellati headquarters on June 6 with a dinner event, kicking off the international furniture and design trade show Salone del Mobile, which will run from June 7 to 12, and then will be available all week as a Fuori Salone event.
“The Salone is such a prestigious opportunity for this, we will start a number of digital activities to promote this project and then move to one or two venues with the same formula in the U.S. and Asia,” said Brozzetti.
In the fall of 2020, the company moved its headquarters to a newly restored building designed by Piero Portaluppi in 1919, following the acquisition by Richemont in 2019.
Brozzetti said that, although the pandemic hit shortly after the sale, the group did not change its strategies for Buccellati.
“We capitalized on 100 years of history to grow as if there were no COVID-19,” said Brozzetti. For example, Buccellati, which was under-represented in brick-and-mortar, has been expanding its retail network, opening eight stores in 2020 and nine in 2021, with 12 planned for this year.
Since the acquisition, Richemont has allowed Buccellati to work in continuity, with Andrea Buccellati as its creative director working with his daughter Lucrezia.
Brozzetti himself joined Buccellati in 2014 and worked through two previous owners — Clessidra and China’s Gangtai Group Corp. Ltd., which acquired the brand from the private equity fund in 2017 and sold it to Richemont two years later.
As per Richemont policies, Brozzetti did not reveal specific sales figures but said that Buccellati saw triple-digit growth in 2021, representing an “all time absolute high, doubling business since the acquisition.”
The executive also said “the first quarter is showing a very extensive double-digit growth beyond the average of the listed companies. However, we are conscious of the current uncertainties, with ongoing COVID-19 restrictions — especially the lockdowns in China — and the war in Ukraine, and we keep our feet planted on the ground.”
The company has 55 stores around the world and 100 stores fully dedicated to silverware in Italy, Europe and the U.S. Buccellati products are available at 80 multibrand stores.
The new openings reflect the brand’s balanced markets and key retail locations. This year, in addition to stores in Zurich and Luzerne, Switzerland, a shop-in-shop will open at Neiman Marcus, following units unveiled in February at Wynn Las Vegas and at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, Calif.
In February, Buccellati opened its first store in Dubai, at the Dubai Mall, and is due to open a second banner in Doha and a first location in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The first store in Singapore will open in a month, and four additional units are planned in China, and a third in Korea, in Seoul.
After buying back its business in Japan, last year Buccellati opened its first store in Tokyo, which will be followed by a shop-in-shop at Isetan. At the same time, the brand is expanding its Paris boutique, and in Milan it will expand its store on Via Montenapoleone to allow more space for its silverware collections.
The U.S. has historically been Buccellati’s number-one market, but Asia has now emerged as representing half of the brand’s business, said Brozzetti.
Buccellati continues to operate ateliers in Valbrona, outside Como; in Zola Predosa outside Bologna, where its silverware is created, and in Chiasso, for its watches.
“We are doubling our atelier in Valbrona and Bologna,” said Brozzetti, “to meet the growing demand.” To ensure Italian production, the company has launched the Buccellati Engraving Academy, as everything is finished by hand, partnering with the Milan-based goldsmith school Scuola Orafa Ambrosiana, to teach the engraving techniques to young artisans, who will then be employed by Buccellati.