Glass visits the Bulgari Accessories Atelier, Florence

IN a renovated spinning mill in the foothills of Florence, the Bulgari Accessories Atelier is situated, an active centre for artisans and leather mastery, and the factory for Bulgari’s luxury accessories. This rustic and rural space is the heart of Bulgari’s finest collections, producing carefully crafted and meticulously designed leather goods, and is the home to the entirety of Bulgari’s complete creative process, from first innovation to final product.

Bulgari-factory imagesInside the Accessories Atelier in Florence, Italy

Although the Atelier is located in Florence, Bulgari firmly holds onto its roots in Rome. Every inspiration for potential collections are taken from the bustling streets of the cosmopolitan city, as reflected in the brand’s accessories, which encapsulate its vibrant, artistic and dreamy spirit. At its core, it’s this characteristically Roman charm that fuels Bulgari as a brand, and has established it as one of the finest luxury retailers world-wide.

Bulgari-factory imagesThe Atelier is situated in the legendary leather district of Florence

After an initial idea is established, a product sketch is created of the preliminary product, after which Bulgari undergoes extensive research into different precious skins, metallic details and colour combinations to craft its creative vision. By the end of this process, only a select amount of sketches are transformed into a “Salpa”, a three dimensional model of the product. Creating the Salpa allows Bulgari to anticipate the final design, and make the necessary changes to the prototype. For each new collection, around 250 prototypes are created, of which only about half make it to the final stages of design.

Bulgari-making of leather goodsProfessional hand-sewing a prototype bag for Bulgari

Attention to detail is at the heart of Bulgari as a brand. In particular, the choosing of precious skins is vital to the final creation. Once a skin is chosen, the accessories are painstakingly coloured by hand, making way for dozens of proofs until the final colour combination is chosen. Only then can expert craftsmen cut the material, using exclusive techniques that have been passed down generation after generation.

Bulgari-making of leather goodsProfessional colouring by hand a Bulgari accessory

Bulgari-making of leather goodsThe process of creating the preliminary design

In order to create the shape of the bag, Bulgari utilises one of the oldest techniques of craftsmanship, called “construction in form”. Used for a variety of Haute Couture creations, this technique is preferred as it ensures not only that the preferred shape is created, but that it maintains its structure over time. The bag is made over a wooden sculpture to the closest possible millimetre, beginning with each side and then finally forming the base. Once sewn by a specific sewing machine called “at column”, the precious details and finishing touches are perfected on the bag. From coloured enamels to precious stones, Bulgari ensures that the finest materials are used to finish the bag. Its signature details, including the iconic serpenti head, is created with the lost wax casting technique, where a cast is made using wax, which is subsequently melted away leaving spaces for the molten precious metal to fill them.

Bulgari-making of leather goodsProfessional using at column machine to sew bag

bulgari factoryThe lost wax technique used to create moulds of iconic Bulgari serpenti head

Bulgari-making of leather goodsPerfecting the finishing touches of the serpenti head

In its final stages, the seams are burned and glued, then each carefully crafted detail is protected with transparent film. Over 20 quality control tests take place to ensure the bag meets Bulgari’s standards, and only then can the bag be sent off to one of the hundreds of Bulgari stores across the world.

Stamping the signature Bulgari logo onto a finished bag

 

by Emma Hart

You can find Bulgari’s luxury accessories on their website here