Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani is not your typical Creative Designer for watches. Finding the connection between his background in automotive and fine watchmaking, he has propelled Bvlgari to the forefront of expert collectors and watch lovers making their timepieces just as iconic as the jewellery.
Stigliani started out at the Fiat Style Centre in Turin after completing his studies at the Industrial Design at the Institute for Industrial Arts of Rome. Few years later he was ready for a new challenge and sent his designs to the Bvlgari Design Center. A short time later Paolo Bvlgari, CEO and creative driver of the brand, invited him to Rome to join the watch design team. In 2007 he was named the Director of the Bvlgari Watches Design Center, with a mission to constantly reinterpret Bvlgari’s rich stylistic and cultural heritage in a contemporary language in tune with the brand’s DNA.
With several world records set by his creations, we talk to Stigliani about his creative process and how he plans to continue innovating to make Bvlgari one of the leaders in the watch industry.
Describe you design aesthetic?
It’s based on simple forms. Through all our watches you can find the same design approach. I love to play with material and with constraints so this is my design philosophy, and it’s very close to the Bvlgari design philosophy. Very simple objects, with simple shapes and rich detail.
Do you find men’s or women’s watches to be the most challenging?
The ladies, because the men’s watches are driven by technical features, it’s easier. Ladies is more in terms of emotions and you can’t manage this, it’s not just the technical features, we have to touch the right sensibility and it’s a matter of shapes, of proportions of how can you exploit the brand each time in different way. For example, the Serpenti has 76 or 78 ways to wear it and it’s something very interesting for us.
What is your typical design process?
Starts with an idea and then I start to make a lot of sketches by hand and after we start the design process in terms of prototype and product development.
How would you sum up Bvlgari watches today?
Our statement as a watchmaker is to merge Italian design rules and the Swiss watchmaking know-how.
What are the challenges of being innovative but staying true to the brand’s DNA?
Innovation is a state of mind. Innovation is not just to use the material in a different way, but change the way you wear the time pieces.
How have peoples taste changed when it comes to watches?
When we launched the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon it was the thinnest Tourbillon in the world and everybody say ‘yes it’s a watch from Bvlgari, we will see.’ Year two a new world record, year three a new world record, year four a new world record. This is the watch and the collection that changed a little bit the perception of the brand for the watch lovers. Bvlgari is very well known, it’s one of the most prestigious jewel makers in the world, but in the world of watches when you see the male customers say ‘Bvlagri is jewel maker’. Today, we have a lot of watch lover and collectors that talk about this watch in a very enthusiastic way.
We notice you have a few exclusive timepieces for the Middle East. How important is this region to Bvlgari?
It’s one of the most important regions in the world. A lot of clients get watches here and not just Middle Eastern. Dubai is in the middle of world so it’s a very important location for us and important region in terms of clients.
How has your work evolved over the years?
Your taste changes during the years because your experience becomes different. At the beginning my idea was to make a tool watch, today it’s more discrete elegance. Design is a blend between engineering and the arts, and in Italy we don’t have just one word to translate design. Luxury for me is to have time to appreciate things you can achieve, otherwise if you just want to collect it’s a pleasure for possession but when you have a watch, you need time to appreciate it. So today it’s less is more, it’s far more difficult to remove than add.
What do you think a customer looks for in a luxury watch today?
Luxury means heritage and savoir flair, that’s why the story is so important. Bvlgari has a unique history and way to imagine things. In our DNA we have innovations and a different way of thinking.
Two of the watches received new world records this year, how do you evolve them further?
We have the new world for the thinnest minute repeater for ladies and we celebrate 100 years of high jewellery watches for ladies. We also have a new world record for men’s watches with three world records for just one watch – thinnest automatic watch in the world, thinnest automatic tourbillon and the thinnest tourbillon. It’s a great achievement and we will continue to develop the Finissimo even with minute repeater in carbon. One of the unique points of this brand is to play with material in an unconventional way. Everybody knows the tubogas, everybody knows the carbon, the titanium, the steel and gold, but just Bvlgari can play like no other in this segment.
How would you summarise your role?
My job is to covey the value of this brand in just 40mm. It’s hard, I come from automotive industry, but often we have the same clients. For me to make sketches about car, watches or furniture is the same but it’s important to understand the brand DNA. If you are able to do this, you are able to reinvent the brand each time. I started to make sketches at four, it’s something that I make every moment of my life.
What is you vision for Bvlgari watches?
We continue to play with our iconic pillars – the Octo, Serpenti, Lvcia but we will continue to develop our other lines as well.
How would you describe the world of Bvlgari watches?