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Last month, Gucci announced the opening of its residence in Florence’s Palazzo Settimanni as part of its 100th-anniversary celebrations. Located in the Santo Spirito neighborhood—historically a place for the workshops of artists and artisans—the space has been completely restored from centuries of repurposing and additions in order to house the maison’s extensive archives. Belonging to Gucci since the 1950s, its 15th-century structure now holds within its walls a bond between the city, the house’s history, and the present and future of fashion.
“I have restored to the Palazzo a fairy-tale aura which, for instance, allows the small entrance hall to become a gateway to a dream dimension. I envisaged it as a sort of secret place within the House, an inner sanctum from where one sets out for Gucci's holy lands,” said Creative Director Alessandro Michele.
The five-story space was treated with a pristine eye for preserving its original artistry and the character given from its years serving as factories, workshops, and other purposes, transformed specifically for the Gucci archives. New details like terracotta flooring (created tile by tile in a wood-fired oven), showroom lighting, and natural wood-and-glass encasements for displays make the interiors appear freshly elevated, though a classical grandeur remains intact through elements like 17th-century frescos and 18th-century trompe l’oeil.
Organized with the help of Fashion Institute of Technology’s museum director and curator Valerie Steele, the venue’s rooms have each been arranged by theme. Visitors will find in the basement level porcelain and household items in the Radura hall, stationary in the Herbarium, and Maison de L’Amour, which holds leisure items. Moving upstairs, vintage handbags, luggage, leather goods, and jewelry can be found on the ground floor within spaces like the Hortus Deliciarum and Le Marché des Merveilles halls, as well as a dedicated exhibition space, Swan hall. Next, a floor with textiles and footwear have been sectioned in rooms like The Alchemist’s Garden and Orto di Giove, and finally, above is the Façonnier des Rêves hall.
“The archive is a memory palace,” said Steele. “Far from being a dusty attic, it is a dynamic system of knowledge production and inspiration. Archives are based on the drive to collect and categorize objects from the past, not because of any nostalgia, but because the style of objects changes over time. This relation to time means that a brand like Gucci, which has a 100-year history, develops archives in order to keep a tangible cultural heritage alive, now and for the future.”
Completing the space, the Palazzo Settimanni is also the home base for Gucci Education, a program offering schooling for the maison’s employees. Including training opportunities like the Retail Academy, HR Academy, and the École de l’Amour, the physical space will now complement the house’s otherwise virtual enrichment opportunities.