As the Product Creation Executive Director at Bulgari Horlogerie, Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani is renowned for his keen focus on design. While our discussions with him at MONOCHROME typically revolve around watches, this exceptionally versatile designer harbours various talents. The announcement of Bulgari’s collaboration with cult video game Gran Turismo provided the opportunity to unveil not only a limited-edition Bulgari Aluminium watch but also the Bulgari Aluminium Vision GT, a stunning concept car designed for use in the racing game.
Xavier Markl, MONOCHROME – You’ve been with Bulgari for over 20 years now. If someone had told you 10-15 years ago that you would work on projects with a video game license, would you have believed it?
Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani – Honestly, no. That’s what makes Bulgari so interesting. We can embark on unconventional ventures and express ourselves in various domains. The beauty of the brand lies in its diversity. We have hotels, we create jewellery, watches, perfumes, and accessories. In my daily work, I design watches, jewellery, and glasses for the brand. As designers, we have ample opportunities to experiment with our design codes.
How intriguing is it to enter into such a collaboration, particularly in the digital realm?
The Gran Turismo audience is undoubtedly young, but it’s not exclusively so. There are no borders. People of different ages worldwide are fans of Vision Gran Turismo, which adds to the allure. From the outset, we chose the Aluminium collection for this collaboration, deeming it the right watch to connect people. The Aluminium collection doesn’t focus on high-end complications. Instead, it tells a story of design and the combination of different materials, in line with our brand DNA.
Vision Gran Turismo is also closely tied to design. The game showcases concept cars, each distinct in its design. Thanks to the GT universe, we can push the boundaries of design.
How did you approach the design process?
The idea was to create a unique experience. You can purchase the watch with the two limited editions and also get the chance to drive the car we designed for Vision Gran Turismo. When you look at the dashboard, you’ll notice the same design as the one on your wrist. This provides a unique perspective – you’re racing a Bulgari car on the track. It’s virtual, but the emotion and experience with the brand go beyond just a watch; it’s a different way to engage with our clients, akin to our hotels.
Gran Turismo and the Aluminium watch both originated in the late 1990s (editor’s note: respectively 1997 and 1998). I’ve been a Gran Turismo fan from the beginning. I joined Bulgari because of Aluminium and its advertising campaign. There’s a connection between me and Gran Turismo. Fabio Filippini (editor’s note: an Italian car designer, and former Design Director of Pininfarina) called me once and said, “I know the people at Gran Turismo; you like car design, let’s do something together. It could be interesting.” A collaboration makes sense when you have something in common but are different at the same time.
It was the same with MB&F, with the connection between Max Busser and myself. Between Gran Turismo and Bulgari, there’s a shared passion. We could talk about the Bulgari family’s passion for cars – they are all car enthusiasts…
You’re a car enthusiast too. What did you try to inject into the design of the concept car?
I love cars for their shape, for their proportions. I’m not necessarily a fan of horsepower or torque; I love the object itself. When we started working on the design, my first question was, “What kind of car are we going to make?” The request from Gran Turismo and Fabio Filippini was to create something that makes sense in their universe, in the game – not just a watch with wheels. They are very particular about design and performance.
The starting point was the Aluminium watch; that’s why we incorporated the wheel arch and rims that resemble the large screw on the side of the case. The car’s body is edgy, reflecting the edginess of the Aluminium case. The small round windshield and the lowest part of the car’s body are also round, reminiscent of the shape of the case. My inspiration for the watch dial and the dashboard was the Lancia Delta Integrale Evoluzione’s dashboard with its amazing black and yellow counters.
The idea was to create a lightweight car with an interesting and fun approach, like the barchettas from the incredible designs of the 1960s and 1970s. These cars may not be the most powerful, but they have amazing handling and are a pleasure to drive. Think of the Abarth approach, Lotus, Alfa Romeo 4C, Lancia Stratos…
The car is very pure in terms of shape, with few decorative elements or spoilers. The colour scheme immediately recalls that of the Aluminium.
So, Yellow or Anthracite dial for you?
I wear the yellow. It is a colour we used for one of the first special editions of the Aluminium in 1999. It speaks about racing cars, about Italian cars. That’s why I thought of the Lancia Delta Integrale’s dashboard. The dial was so cool that we also decided to make the opposite one – dark grey with yellow graphic elements. Both versions are magnificent. It is difficult to say which one I prefer. I wear the yellow on because it was the first one in my mind!
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