The new and improved version of
Florence’s Gucci Museum is a fantastic garden wonderland, writes keeper of Maria
Luisa Frisa. The new space we have opened in Florencie is called Gucci Garden
for a reason. The previous name, Gucci Museum, might suggest a place that
looked chronologically and more conventionally at the work of the House. The
Gucci Garden, by contrast, is an expression of the imagination of Alessandro
Michele, where pieces, films and artwork are mixed, not according to a timeline,
but to themes and ideas. For example, a coat from the 1906s zebra style is
displayed next to one right next to one from the current era in orange faux fur
with zebra motifs, in a dialogue across the ages. The Gucci Garden is a
fantastic place that provokes many thoughts, ideas and emotions. While I may be
the safe keeper, I am a keeper that has been chosen by Alessandro Michele to
interpret his eye, his gaze, his feeling.
That’s not to say that other Gucci creators are not welcome here. All previous Gucci designers, those who were more anonymous in the background, others who achieved considerable fame, such as Tom Ford, have their work included. While this is a world were its very firmly seen through the eyes Alessandro Michele, it is one that acknowledges the past as an inspiration on the present of our House. Indeed, one of the things that make the Gucci Garden, so intriguing is that here, the history of Gucci is regarded not as an academic, dusty archive, but as a living part of the contemporary creative process, which is exactly how Alessandro Michele designs: using anything that appeals to him as inspiration, from the Renaissance masters to horror.
On the ground floor of the Garden is a small shop that has been decorated with antique pieces of furniture taken from country houses and confectionery, which have been renovated and painted. The space fees like a bazaar, with pieces displayed in wardrobes, on tables, in wooden sideboards and cabinets. There is also a restaurant, the Gucci Osteria by chef Massimo Bottura, and a Café. As well as many pieces of clothes and accessories designed exclusively for the Gucci Garden, the store also houses pieces of the Gucci Décor collection and a selection of modern and antique books for sale, as well as many esoterica magazines and publications.
My domain is upstairs on two floors, where the Gucci Garden Galleria are arranged to show the art and culture of Gucci in an innovative way. The challenge here was to create a space that has different spirit to the boutique and the restaurant downstairs but is still identifiably Gucci. The answer has been to conceive of this a more natural space, a gallery where a light-wood floor and white walls allow for the focus to be on the exhibits. Black tables with anthropomorphic legs act as support, there are many video projections playing throughout the exhibit, some giving quiet a psychedelic effect. Some of the house friends, like artists Trevor Andrew, Jade Fish and Coco Captain have been invited to paint walls, and other walls are coated in fabric. It is testament to Gucci’s eclecticism that a large wall covered in graffiti by Trevor Andrew is matched in the adjoining room by a huge equestrian oil painting from the 1800s by Milanese artist Domenico Induno.
The effect in the end is of gallery spaces that have the feel of a laboratory in which you have all the elements with which to experiment. It is more clinical than the boutique for sure. Displays are moveable, suggesting quite rightly that in the future exhibits will be moved and changed, to keep the Gucci Garden Galleria fresh and dynamic.
For launch, there are six rooms over two floors that have been organised around different themes. For example, the De Rerum Natura rooms represent the House's passion for flora and fauna, where as well as clothing and accessories from different eras featuring animal motifs there are also vintage silver animal statuettes that the House manufactured in the 50s and ten floral drawings by the artist Vittorio Accornero de Testa, who designed the Gucci Flora pattern in 1966. Then, the Guccification room is dedicated to the logo and its myriad uses. This is where the GucciGhost mural is, as well as a vintage-style TV set playing examples of Gucci's social media campaigns. Other rooms have luggage, an exploration of the tropes of the House, such as the Web stripe and horse bit (Paraphernalia) and a collection of documents, magazines and objects (Ephemera). There is also a small red-tented "cinema da camera" where we will hold screenings of avant-garde films for around 30 people. The first will be a preview of Phoenix a short film by the Zapruder Filmmakers Group, which is the second episode of a film cycle dedicated to Hercules, which started in 2016.
What I sincerely hope is that people will be inspired by a visit here in the way I have been inspired by exploring the inventive and playful spirit of this very special fashion house.