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Panerai recently opened a new flagship location in Miami’s Design District, created with the architect Patricia Urquiola, with whom the brand has been partnering for several years now. This December 2, during the Miami art fairs, Officine Panerai CEO Angelo Bonati will be presenting the Design Miami/ Visionary Award to 2015 honoree Yves Béhar at the Design Miami/ Design Visionary Dinner, presented by Panerai. Whitewall sat down with Bonati to hear more about the newest flagship and about Panerai’s ongoing commitment to design.
WHITEWALL: You’ve previously worked with Patricia Urquiola on your New York, Hong Kong, Florence, and Paris flagship and boutiques. And for this new flagship in Miami’s Design District, you’ve worked with her again. How did your collaboration with Urquiola begin?
ANGELO BONATI: Everything started several years ago when we sponsored the exhibition “O’Clock” at the Triennale in Milano. Patricia was in charge of curating and designing the exhibition. It was then that I realized she was fantastic. It was impossible to stop working with her. At that moment I felt that our boutiques were too cold and we needed a change. As is my habit, I found a solution different than others. Typically, you would go to an architect who knows the sector, who knows the watch industry, who has done boutiques before. I chose her because she was totally different. She had done other retail projects like Missoni, but not watch shops. I proposed this agreement to her, and she said, “Okay, we’ll do it.” Even this morning, I was in front of the window here at the New York store on Madison Avenue, and I thought to myself, “It is one of the best watch boutiques.” It is totally custom made and totally different.
WW: The Miami flagship was designed with such warm materials—the space looks bright with a lot of lighter color woods . . .
AB: The quality is very high; the materials are things like marble and real wood, not laminate. [Laughs] All the lighting is custom made, the chairs are custom made, everything is custom made. The first time she said to me, we had to do this, I thought, “It will cost a fortune!” But she said, “Trust me, you’ll sell more.”
WW: In the Miami space, there is this hanging installation that looks like an exploding movement. Can you tell me about that piece?
AB: It is unique to Miami. It’s inspired by a watch movement. Each interior has a special spotlight. Hong Kong is where history meets innovation. And Miami is where history meets design. So we’re trying to spotlight design.
WW: Being in the Design District, did you interact with Craig Robins at all?
AB: I met him once. We had a meeting, and I was excited because he’s a guy who has a lot of ideas. He’s very positive. We put some ideas on the table; the challenge now is to realize them. I would like to do something more, to take the opportunity to link the part of Panerai’s DNA that is linked to design and contemporary art because it’s an opportunity, I think, this moment in Miami.
WW: Panerai sponsored the “O’Clock” exhibition as you said, and, several years ago, the exhibition “Time and Space: A Tribute to Galileo Galilei” that traveled to several museums including the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. Can you tell us about your approach to getting involved with design and contemporary art? Because it is unlike other brands.
AB: Design is in our DNA. We have a history of science linked to the sea, but also with design. To support design, it takes time and patience, because you need to be legitimate. You cannot sponsor something that is not legitimized by an entity like an institution. And that is why it takes time. If you want to organize an exhibition, it can take three to four years. We have a good partner in the Triennale, but the exhibitions they show now they started planning five years ago. So in art, as in design, it takes time, I believe.
WW: Do you personally collect art?
AB: Yes, in my fantasy. [Smiles] I would like to start to collect art. I have some things, but not a lot. I’m not an expert, but I feel things.
WW: When do you think you’d be ready to collect?
AB: When I stop working. Then I would have more time to investigate, to see, to select.
This article is published in Whitewall‘s winter 2016 Lifestyle Issue out this month.