Bring a healthy dose of cu­rios­ity across the thresh­old of Bul­gari’s lat­est con­cept store in Rome.

Robb Report (Malaysia) - - The De­sign Is­sue - By LOW SHI PING

Fash­ion­istas vis­it­ing or liv­ing in The Eter­nal City have a new play­ground to visit, courtesy of Bul­gari. The Rome-head­quar­tered brand has launched a re­fresh­ing con­cept be­side its flag­ship on Via dei Con­dotti.

Named New Cu­rios­ity Shop, it looks, from the out­side, like two dif­fer­ent stores. The tell­tale sign that it’s not? The same al­most two-me­tre-tall door­man who looms in­tim­i­dat­ingly over the en­trances. Go in and aside from the model-es­que ser­vice staff ea­ger to help, what im­me­di­ately catches the eye is how the space is split, right down the mid­dle, into two. Half is clad in dark tones of green, blue and brown, rep­re­sent­ing the past, while the other is in cream, gold and white, sym­bolic of the fu­ture.

This con­trast­ing two- in­one ef­fect is de­lib­er­ate, ex­plains Vic­to­ria, one of the store as­sis­tants. “The New Cu­rios­ity Shop is a fu­tur­is­tic ver­sion and neigh­bour of the orig­i­nal Old Cu­rios­ity Shop, which was es­tab­lished by the brand’s founder Sotirios Bul­gari in 1905,” she says. Dom­i­nat­ing the space is a sparkling Mu­rano glass chan­de­lier cus­tom-made by Venini. It is sus­pended over a horse­shoe-shaped counter that en­cases jew­ellery ex­clu­sive to the New Cu­rios­ity Shop. More in­ter­est­ingly, the ta­ble hides a pair of in­ter­ac­tive, touch­sen­si­tive screens where visi­tors can learn about the brand’s history and browse the col­lec­tions.

The front half of the store is flanked on both sides by shelves and draw­ers con­tain­ing Bul­gari ac­ces­sories, which you can try on. Vic­to­ria points to a beau­ti­ful ring and ban­gle set in pink gold and di­a­monds – part of the Con­dotti10 col­lec­tion – that is in­spired by the mo­tif found on the floor of the Pan­theon, an ar­chi­tec­tural won­der of Rome.

There is also the funky 20-piece lim­ited- edi­tion Ser­penti Twist Your Time watch col­lec­tion, with ex­change­able straps in pink or turquoise calf leather. The case comes in pink gold with di­a­mond

Named New Cu­rios­ity Shop, it looks, from the out­side, like two dif­fer­ent stores.

pave fram­ing a mother- of-pearl face. On the back is en­graved Only In Rome for that spe­cial touch. Uni­fy­ing the space is the idea of a cabi­net of cu­riosi­ties, which dates back to the late Re­nais­sance, where the wealthy dis­played col­lectibles from sci­ence or na­ture. This is the most ob­vi­ous at the back half of the store, where there are ob­jets d’art that will re­fresh ev­ery few months. For now, the items are cu­rated by the renowned dec­o­ra­tive arts Mai­son For­nasetti, set up by one of the most cre­ative de­sign­ers of the 20th cen­tury, Piero For­nasetti. A wooden hand-lacquered side­board sits against the back wall. Above it hangs hand­crafted plates em­bel­lished with an as­tro­nom­i­cal theme.

Pause a mo­ment and sit on the quirky chairs around the green- or gold- coloured ta­ble. They make for per­fect vantage points to ad­mire both the artistry of the sur­round­ings and per­haps even a piece of jew­ellery. Vic­to­ria hits the nail on the head when she muses aloud: “I think Mr Bul­gari would have ap­proved.” www. bul­gari.com ≠

Uni­fy­ing the space is the idea of a cabi­net of cu­riosi­ties.

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