Next year, skincare brand Comfort Zone will open its new €25m (US$28.1m, £19.5m) headquarters in Parma, Italy, creating what chair Davide Bolatti calls a “house for sustainable beauty”.
Bolatti is passionate about the ways in which beauty, innovation and architecture intersect – and about creating sustainability in each of those areas.
The Matteo Thun-designed über-green headquarters will cover 11,000sq m (118,400sq ft) and is dubbed Davines Village after Comfort Zone’s parent company. When completed towards the end of 2017, Davines Village will feature a skin bar where visitors can try Comfort Zone’s products, education zones and the company’s development laboratories – all set around a greenhouse and organic gardens, which will provide food for a central organic restaurant, as well as plants for the skincare products.
Traditionally, Parma is an agricultural region and Bolatti says he wanted the architecture to reflect that. But he also wanted to create an even more environmentally-friendly building and to foster quality of life for his employees. “We have a humanistic approach,” he explains. “It’s an approach that puts people at the centre.”
He chose Thun to design Davines Village because of his record of creating buildings with low carbon emissions and integrating buildings into the landscape.
“I learned the hard way that you don’t change a lot when it comes to architects – especially when they’re ‘archi-stars,’” says Bolatti. “It’s better to choose the one that already has your sensibilities and that’s what we did with Matteo.”
The headquarters will house one of the biggest geothermal systems in Italy, says Bolatti, and will also make use of solar energy.
“We’re trying to get as close as possible to decarbonising the factory,” Bolatti explains. He worked with a sustainability engineer to conduct a thorough review, and while it’s difficult to decarbonise a factory completely, Bolatti says: “We’re getting close.”
But Bolatti’s quest for sustainable beauty does not stop there. He’s also created the iSustainBeauty campaign, which is now in its second year and set to double in size. With a simple goal of making the world a more beautiful place, the movement focuses on small social, environmental and artistic ventures that do just that.
“This goes beyond corporate social responsibility; it goes to the core of sustainability,” he says.
This year, Bolatti expects the programme to fund about 100 projects globally, from reworking an abandoned village garden to opening a beauty school in an underprivileged neighbourhood to restoring a heritage church.
“The idea is to make the world a more beautiful place through local projects,” says Bolatti. “Because beauty can make all the difference.”