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Fashion and lifestyle brands in luxury hospitality

The role of powerful narratives for the creation of relevant projects in the hospitality field.

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Livio Ballabio, Jumbo Group’s creative director, explored the creative process that brings to the creation of relevant projects combining furniture and fashion in the luxury hotel sector during two important events held on May 2019.

The 2nd Architect Show (tAS) took place on the 4th and 5th May 2019 at the exhibition venue of Helexpo in Maroussi, Athens. Livio Ballabio took part in the conference with an extensive discussion concerning the role of the fashion brands in the creation of relevant narratives in the hospitality field.

On May 22, another event was held at Jumbo Group’s showroom in New York, in the renowned D&D building; that time the discussion regarded how fashion and lifestyle brands have successfully crossed into the hospitality industry.

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“When I start a new project”, Livio Ballabio states, “the first step of my work is thinking about what story I would like to tell the “end user”. In fact, even if people often associate the role of the artistic direction with the one of the scenographer, I personally think that my job is more similar to the one of the screenwriter in the creation of a movie. The artistic direction doesn’t consist only in putting the objects and furniture in the right position but in coordinating many different elements to create powerful and meaningful stories. An example? During the last Salone del Mobile, with the brand Etro Home Interiors I recreated a special setting inspired by one of the “one thousand and one nights” tales, a perfect example of “one thousand stories” creating one of the most successful books in the history of literature.

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Confirming the importance of stories in every field of our lives, “storytelling” is nowadays a special word used in many occasions, one of the most used words during the last years. This is because telling stories is the most powerful way to add a deeper value to products.

The passion for stories is an ancestral factor that brings together different cultures, a ritual that is present in our life since we were children, when our mothers told us good night tales before sleeping. At this regards Livio Ballabio states “Human beings have always liked to hear stories, since the dawn of time, when oral tales were told at night by the fire and transmitted from generation to generation. It is a significative element in this sense the fact that the passage from prehistory to history happened with the invention of writing.”

The companies understood the power of stories and started using storytelling as an important element in their business. An example is a famous brand that decided to include Grimm’s fairy tales in the packs of chips, so mothers could use them to tell stories to their children. Fashion companies also understood the importance of storytelling and, around 15 years ago, they decided to offer their fashion addicts a 360° experience rather than a simple dress. Therefore they started to include in their offer not only dresses or fashion accessories but also furniture and complements, all elements that became expression of a lifestyle. The first experimentation merging furniture and fashion was made with the movie American Gigolo, where Armani experimented his concept of “total look”. In this movie everything was coordinated and studied to create a special atmosphere: dresses, furniture, cars and many other things were combined to create an overall lifestyle, a unique mix of elements able to create a meaningful and powerful story about the life of the protagonist: Richard Gere. Following the Armani example, one of the first to offer an “all-inclusive” package was Fendi Casa.

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Then, around 10 years ago, fashion brands started to enter in the hospitality sector.

Livio Ballabio says at this regard: “We all love to surround ourselves by things telling us a story that represent our way of being; an example is the desktop of your pc, showing an image that expresses your passion or your dream. This happens also with places and accommodation facilities: we always search for hotels that are close to our way of being. To brand an hotel is a marketing trick: a way to declare immediately what kind of story you will discover inside the building. If you know the brand, you know immediately which story it tells and if the hotel corresponds to your way of being. Quoting a famous sentence by Goethe, we can say “tell me in which hotel you go and I’ll tell you who you are”.

Jumbo Group is perfectly aligned with this trend and in 2018 the company started implementing the first projects combining fashion and furniture in the hospitality field. One of this is the Baglioni Hotel, one of the most prestigious hotels in Milan city centre, furnished by Gianfranco Ferré Home. This year, Jumbo Group is working on different special projects, a very important one with Gianfranco Ferré in Cyprus (Limassol del Mar) and others with Roberto Cavalli Home Interiors, one in Ryad, one in Acapulco, one in Dubai and the last one in Bahrein.

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