GUCCI — The New Fashion Town
In 1915, the first Caproni factory buildings were established in the rural outskirts east of Milan. Sheds and hangers lined up along what is now Via Mecenate, while the west sat the Taliedo airfield, where planes took off for test flights and underwent inspection. The Via Mecenate facilities built biplanes and triplanes that were among the best known aircraft of the time.
Almost a century later, Gucci chose the area as the site of its new offices. Gucci hired Milanese architecture firm Piuarch to create a new design and concept suitable for a modern headquarters that would preserve the existing architecture while paying homage to the historical site. The original architecture was preserved, and with a few exceptions, the structures retained their size and layout.
Marco Bizzarri, Gucci’s President and CEO confides: "The concept and design of our new Milan location symbolize every aspect of the new chapter that Gucci opened at the start of last year. This highly contemporary space, rendered from within the historical building, will foster and nurture an open working environment that is at the core of a true learning organization. It will also become a place of cultural exchange, when we present the collections each season."
The meticulous restoration of the historic Caproni aeronautical factory took over three years to complete. The new 'Gucci Hub' brings together the fashion house's Milan offices, worldwide showrooms, fashion show venue and graphics and photo studios in one unique location that is now home to more than 250 employees.
The first step in reinventing the complex was to redesign the Caproni sheds. The sheds offer a pleasing symmetry in size and shape. At the same time, the archetype brings in a great deal of natural light with beautiful exposed brick facades. The hangar where the final assembly of Caproni aircrafts took place has been thoughtfully renovated with an eye to highlighting its impressive size. The newly renovated space is an impressive 3,850 square meters of space, including 2,000 square meters that will be used to stage fashion shows from 2017 onwards.
The main street has been refurbished into a pedestrian path that connects and unites the building and offices. The path leads to a covered plaza, a large open space in the centre that serves as a hub that connects various aspects of the company. All the original structural and decorative metal parts are in the same dark color, which helps them stand out against the exposed red bricks; emphasizing their geometric qualities significantly.
The new location is 100% sustainable. Its completion will see a wooden area, a tree-lined plaza, gardens, patios and green walls being included in the building program to complement the historic character of the buildings. The new Gucci Hub enjoys LEED Gold certification and, most importantly, provides workspaces that foster a high quality of life.
The interior design reflects Gucci Creative Director Alessandro Michele’s vision and aesthetic. The complex is more than a series of offices: it is a small campus, with Michele’s vision being applied in all the common areas.
Outfitting these areas is very much like creating a bespoke garment: furnishings and décor are carefully considered, evaluated and sourced. The pieces are one-of-a-kind and cannot be replicated or purchased anywhere. Theater seating, old bar countertops and vintage screens, armchairs and side tables create a comfortable atmosphere. Yet nothing here is boring.
This is where Michele’s style shines most brightly: these areas were furnished not with run-of-the-mill items, but with special pieces found through a process of discovery. The result is customized, personal and unique—a workplace that feels like a small town; a rather handsome one.
Words by Gabriel Martin
Photos courtesy of GUCCI / Andrea Martiradonna