Bulgari has recently opened a new flagship store in Shanghai in one of the city’s most popular shopping malls in Nanjing Road. Drawing inspiration from the vibrant nuances of precious jade, the new store boasts a show-stopping and sustainable green façade made from brass and recycled glass.
A medley of different influences spanning from the legendary Bulgari store in Rome to Shanghai’s unique Art Deco architecture, the project is innovative and sustainable while remaining true to the heritage of both the Roman Maison and Shanghai. Like the previous designs, the Shanghai project makes use of a visual motif inspired by the portals and cornices of Bulgari’s first original boutique in Rome, adopting the recognizable visual identity that now distinguishes their stores worldwide.
The iconic portal motif, inspired by the entrance door and cornices of Bulgari’s Via dei Condotti store and now part of the brand’s visual identity, is here reimagined in an unprecedented way. Indeed, it is not used to from windows, but to create layered panels forming an Art Déco-inspired pattern.
Art Déco is a theme that beautifully connects Shanghai to Bulgari. Home to one of the richest collections of Art Déco architecture in the world, from the 1920s to the 1940s Shanghai embraced the mix of East and West in every aspect, from fashion to art. In the same years, Bulgari celebrated the sparkle of that era with its famed geometrical diamond jewels.
Furthermore, the façade conjures the world of jewellery with panels that resemble China’s most precious and emblematic stone, the green jade. The result is a complex design, with layer upon layer of cross-cultural references, Art Deco architecture achieved with the same dedication employed for a jewellery creation. And foremost, a combination of the best of both cultures.
“The new store opening strengthens even more the special bond Bulgari has with this city, which is one of the most exciting and vibrant in the world. We are proud to once more bring to Shanghai Bulgari’s very Italian sense of luxury and excellence, and to do it with a store that is an extraordinary example of our commitment to sustainability. Because while venturing into innovative experimentation, we never forget our devotion to beauty.” says Bulgari’s CEO Jean-Christophe Babin.
The gold-coloured brass trim gives the façade an appearance similar to a piece of jewellery. The panels are made of compressed green glass, featuring a unique material effect that boasts a translucent finish. At night, a backlight behind the panels gives the façade a striking glow, highlighting the unique textural quality of the glass. The glass is completely recycled, produced at the Magna factory in Teutschenthal, Germany, which is specialized in glass treatment. Meanwhile the backlight is engineered to minimize the façade’s energy footprint, using less than half the energy of a typical comparable installation.
Signed by MVRDV, the Bulgari Shanghai façade is already the third one realized by the global architecture studio for Bulgari in the frame of their ongoing partnership. In 2018 Bulgari Kuala Lumpur opened with a marble-inspired façade illuminated by veins of gold light. For this effect, glass-reinforced concrete was cut according to the cornice pattern, filled with resin, and illuminated by amber LED Lights.
This was followed by the opening of Bulgari Bangkok in 2020, where the cornice pattern was created in brass and combined with different types of glass to give a striking jewel-like effect. Subtle lighting in each window highlights the store’s products in Bulgari’s signature saffron colour.
“Our collaboration with Bulgari has yielded some fascinating material experiments,” comments MVRDV Founding Partner Jacob van Rijs. “It’s a passion we share with them, albeit in different design disciplines. The Shanghai store encapsulates the value of these experiments: given the right treatment and detailing, leftover champagne bottles, which would otherwise be thrown away, become a jewel for the city.”
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