Bulgari, the historic Italian luxury brand operating primarily in the jewellery, watches and leather goods sectors, commissioned MVRDV architecture firm to design new façades for its most recently opened stores. The first façade was that of theKuala Lumpur flagship store, which opened its doors in 2018. The façade of the new Bulgari store, located in one of Asia’s largest shopping malls, Bangkok’s IconSiam, was recently completed in Thailand. Architect Jacob Van Rijs, MVRDV founding partner, explained that other façade projects are currently underway, each with its own distinctive character, both in terms of the different locations and because each project is unique. In the Kuala Lumpur project, the concrete façade is reminiscent of veined marble, thanks to the veins in transparent gold-coloured resin crossing the surface, while in Bangkok the reference is instead to a gold jewel with precious stones set in it.
The client's request, which links all the various projects together like a fil rouge, is to add a contemporary touch to the classic image that has always accompanied the “Bulgari” brand. MVRDV's architects started by taking into consideration aspects relating to the history of the brand which, inspired by the timeless beauty of Roman art, has become a synonym of glamor and creativity around the world. The architects drew precisely from this heritage of the past, intertwined with the commercial history of the brand.
The brand’s starting point was the first Bulgari store that opened its doors in Rome in 1905 in Via dei Condotti, historic luxury spot, as well as one of the city’s most famous streets. The architectural elements and characteristics of the portals and the frames were taken precisely from this historic building, elements which inspired the architects to give life to the new geometries that animate the façades of the flagship stores.
In particular, the motif developed by MVRDV, which has become the common thread characterising the renovation of the façades, is inspired precisely by the shape of the cornice of the old shop in Via dei Condotti. The ancient shapes were adapted in different combinations and in designs that experiment with innovative materials.
In the IconSiam shopping centre, the Bulgari flagship store is located in an area of high-end shops, near the escalators. A position that allows visitors to notice the refined and elegant façade before arriving at the floor. The motif designed by MVRDV's architects is made of brass and combines with different types of glass. The façade has a striking aspect, which is not only perceived as a golden surface, but also acquiring thickness and three-dimensionality. The entrance and the shop windows appear as gems set on its surface. Over the three different levels of the façade, the windows differ in colour and degrees of transparency, all related to the functions they perform. On the ground floor, they are completely transparent, allowing passersby to see the products and the interior of the shop. On the higher levels, they are opaque, to ensure privacy for VIP lounge customers and created with colours inspired by the classic tones of the brand, highlighted by the lighting created within the frame.
Images courtesy of MVRDV, photo by ©Ketsiree Wongwan
Project name: Bulgari Bangkok
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
Size: 234 sqm (2,519 sqf)
Architect: MVRDV (Winy Maas, Jacob Van Rijs, Nathalie De Vries, Frans De Witte, Fokke Moerel, Wenchian Shi, Jan Knikker)
Founding Partner in Charge: Jacob Van Rijs
Partner: Fokke Moerel
Design and Material Development Team: Aser Giménez Ortega, Simone Costa
Construction Phase Team: Aser Giménez Ortega, Simone Costa
Concept Design Team: Aser Giménez Ortega, Elien Deceuninck, Rico Van De Gevel, Junxiang Zhang
Images: ©Ketsiree Wongwan
Copyright: MVRDV 2020 – (Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs, Nathalie de Vries, Frans de Witte, Fokke Moerel, Wenchian Shi, Jan Knikker)
Contractor: Redwood Interior PTE LTD
Structural research: ABT bv - E.H.J. ten Brincke