Tuscany is ready for a New Renaissance: Gucci opens an ArtLab

The location is not exactly Florence, but rather the nearby town of Scandicci, where Gucci just opened its first ArtLab, a creative hub that aims at combining tradition and innovation in the name of beauty and art. And, in Gucci’s book, beauty is synonym with luxury. The complex, which covers an area of 37000 square metres, is rumoured to have cost almost €40M and it presents as a veritable temple of Italian fashion craftsmanship. Scandicci is already well known for its prized leather goods, so it comes as no surprise that the Gucci Art Lab should focus specifically on the production of leather footwear and accessories, which, combined, make up almost 70% of the brand’s total income. This new multifunctional centre will research sustainable innovation and nurture new creative talents, under the aegis of creative director Alessandro Michele.

Tuscany is ready for a New Renaissance: Gucci opens an ArtLab

From crisis to opportunity

As we mentioned, the new Gucci ArtLab is going to focus on leather goods, which currently make up a significant portion of the brand’s production. This was not always the case, however. When current president Marco Bizzarri started working at the prestigious Maison, this particular line was dwindling and the former administration had planned to shut down several departments, laying off over 5000 workers. The new policy of focusing on sustainable innovation and giving young creatives room to experiment and expand their creativity, however, paid off. Gucci footwear and leather goods are currently worth over €4Bn. As a result, the inauguration of the Gucci ArtLab in April was attended by its 800 young employees, as a testimony to the success of the brand’s new course.

gucci art lab tuscany

Innovation, sustainability and Italian craftsmanship

This brand new hub of world-class fashion contains traditional artisanal workshops, which make the backbone of Italian quality leather goods. Tradition, however, is matched by creativity and innovation, which can be seen in the very architecture of the facilities – in which the walls have been decorated by street artists such as Ignasi Monreal andAngelica Hicks to represent the brand’s values. Here, young creatives sit around long tables, in the fashion of traditional apprenticeship, and learn from experienced masters, applying their creativity to sophisticated techniques, creating prototypes and shaping the near future of fashion and taste. Tradition and innovation, however, are effectively combined by a production line that employs cutting-edge technology to assemble every creation, after the prototypes have been perfected by Gucci’s artisans and designers. There’s something uniquely Italian about this process: the region itself is a hotbed of artisanal knowledge and skills. Gucci’s connection to Italy in general and to this part of Tuscany in particular has long been one of the key ingredients in the brand’s success. As a result, the ArtLab is going to hire 900 more people over the next year, adding to the over 2000 existing workers in Tuscany.

The future at a glance

Gucci is also investing in R&D, dedicating a whole section of its ArtLab to new material and packaging research. This is an effective way of placing the brand at the forefront of innovation in its field, guaranteeing that, if any breakthroughs occur in this field, Gucci products will be able to implement them before anyone else.

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She is a part-time digital nomad. She would go full-time, if only she could stay away from Berlin for long enough without pining for a Pretzel. She was born in Italy and she enjoys life as an expat, but visits home often enough and can still remember how to bake a perfect lasagna. She is passionate about writing, marketing, languages and the systematic demolition of cultural stereotypes.

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