How different are the designs for a watch and a yacht, a car and a piece of furniture? On a conceptual level, not at all. “A designer’s job combines many disciplines. His or her mission is to create products that satisfy a need and make people’s lives easier. To succeed in this task means understanding clients’ requirements while being able to express the heritage and know-how of the brand they represent in the best possible way”, says Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani.
Trained at the ISIA, the Arts Industry University of Rome, Buonamassa Stigliani first worked in Turin at the Fiat Style Centre before being invited in 2001 by Paolo Bulgari to join the Roman brand’s creative team, and now he is responsible for the design of all new men’s, women’s, grand complication and jewel watch collections. The designer who confronts a fascinating challenge every time he launches a new design initiative.
The complexity of a designer’s work lies in creating a new vocabulary that can enrich and add a new emotional dimension to a language that is already known and familiar. A watch has a well-defined shape comprising a dial and bracelet, just as a yacht’s design must include a bow and stern. But it is within these limitations that a designer must make an individual, distinctive contribution, do something different, determining the product’s success. The functional elements, the original reasons for an object’s existence, are never in doubt – a watch enables its wearers to tell the time, and a yacht should be able to sail safely – but from the point of view of form, a whole set of new opportunities is available.
“These days knowing the time isn’t presented as a primary need, we know that a watch embodies other values men and women regard as important. The real challenge is the understand clients’ requirements of aesthetics and status and identify them with the brand’s values. Bulgari is a global brand with an identifiable design, and every time it must not only fulfil the tastes of its public but also find a way to attract new clients to the brand” says Buonamassa Stigliani.
The same applies to pleasure yachts. They are not created as a simple means of transport but as an object that will maximise the maritime experience. And time is the slender thread linking these two worlds, where the emotional content plays a decisive role.
These two sectors present clearly-defined design limitations that can actually serve as an extraordinary creative stimulus. “Good designers”, adds Buonamassa Stigliani, “Should be able to imagine a jewel, a yacht or a watch because they understand the vocabulary behind a product in terms of proportions, shapes and materials. The limitations pose no restriction – on the contrary, they are the stimulus that enables the design to try out new solutions in a variety of contexts, from technical to functional, including the production process. Designers know this and also seek to exploit this opportunity through the use of new materials to create objects that can even resist the ravages of time”.
Materials are now an exceptionally important aspect of a designer’s work, and intense experimentation in yachtbuilding and watchmaking has opened up new horizons for these industries. Carbon fibre’s outstanding properties of lightness and strength appearance have revolutionised the sail yacht sector, and it is now experiencing rapid development in the car industry (not forgetting that its presence creates an appearance of sleek modernity). In watchmaking, titanium is enjoying a period of great desirability. Bulgari, though, has looked beyond titanium’s lightness and strength, succeeding in combining these characteristics with functional requirements that have led to the creation of the case of the Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater.
This timepiece houses one of the watchmaking world’s most refined complications, the minute repeater – research carried out by Bulgari means its acoustic properties have been even further enhanced by this material. All this has been carried out with great respect for Rome brand’s stylistic codes and criteria.
Bulgari’s long history and rich traditions are a hugely important source of inspiration, but Buonamassa Stigliani also has his eyes on the future.