Davines International, the parent company of spa skincare brands Comfort Zone and Skin Regimen, has unveiled its new €40m headquarters in Parma, Italy, creating what chair Davide Bollati calls a “house for sustainable beauty”.
Bollati 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 uber-green headquarters, dubbed Davines Village, covers 25,650sq m (277,094sq ft). The stunning site houses R&D laboratories; a production and manufacturing plant; an education academy; an organic restaurant; clinical testing rooms for trialling products and protocols; and creative, administrative, sales and purchasing departments – all set around a botanical greenhouse and organic garden.
“This is an exciting, memorable moment for our company after 35 years,” Bollati tells Spa Business magazine.
Bollati chose Thun to design the external architecture of Davines Village because of his record of creating buildings with low carbon emissions and integrating buildings into the landscape. Thun’s projects of note include the JW Marriott Resort & Spa in Venice and the new Waldhotel Health & Medical Excellence hotel at the Bürgenstock resort in Switzerland. Thun says: “The theme of sustainability in every aspect is part of our DNA”.
The headquarters boasts one of the biggest geothermal systems in Italy and makes use of solar energy. Comfort Zone is also proud to confirm that the village will be carbon neutral, as it’s able to compensate for the production of products by sponsoring a reforestation project.
Traditionally, Parma is an agriculture region and this is reflected in the architecture and the site which features 54,000sq m (581,250sq ft) of green space. “All the buildings are designed as open, transparent spaces surrounded by greens – bringing nature inside,” says Thun. “We tried to find a balance between landscape, architecture and light to create a positive work environment. It’s about nature, transparency and simplicity.”
Home from home
While creating an environmentally friendly building was a priority for Bollati, he also wanted to foster a quality of life for employees by creating a ‘home from home’. For this he turned to Italy-based interior designer Monica Signani who brought a personal touch with her meticulous selection of furnishings, materials, finishes and accessories. “The attention to detail and sophisticated interiors are something you’d find in a house, not a business – in fact, I used the same interior designer in my own home.”
He also reveals that “it’s a place where interaction is welcome.” Communal spaces such as a café, restaurant and courtyard encourage employees to socialise more and Bollati’s already noticing a difference. “We’re bumping into each other more. I think it’s very good for business because companies are made through interaction and relationships, not formal meetings, schedules and calendars.”
Employees moved into their new home in mid July and although it will take another six months or so for the botanical plants to fully establish themselves, Bollati is clearly happy with what’s been achieved so far. “Personally, it means to me that after having many years of not feeling good enough at times, or having the resources to do what we wanted, we now have more than enough,” he says. “It definitely meets expectations and I’m so happy and grateful for what we’ve built.”
With such a robust, modern base, Comfort Zone is looking to advance its business in numerous ways. Bollati refers to the manufacturing plant where the company has taken “big steps forward” in innovation, hygiene standards and technology. The new site will enable Comfort Zone to increase production up to four times and significantly raises the bar in terms of automatization, sustainability and quality of processes.
Meanwhile, an on-site teaching/training academy will host Comfort Zone and Skin Regimen spa clients and business partners. “My aim is not just to have a building that celebrates how great we are,” explains Bollati. “We want to dedicate it to our visitors, clients, partners and community – it will be a learning centre and a place to provide inspiration. Clients and partners can come and nurture themselves and learn how to be better in their profession and also as human beings [through our focus on ethics].”
The feature that Bollati is most proud of, however, is the botanical garden and greenhouse where plants used in the company’s skincare products will be grown alongside those it wants to study, such as actives with anti-inflammatory or preservative qualities. The garden and all landscaping has been overseen by UK-based del Buono Gazerwitz Landscape Architecture, while Hartley Botanic (also based in the UK) worked on the greenhouse.
Significantly, the gardens are overlooked by the R&D department and 30-plus chemists and pharmacists. “The interaction between our R&D department and the botanical garden is the most critical part of the project in terms of our core offering, which is our products,” Bollati explains. “Our scientists will face the botanical garden all day long, only divided by a wall of glass. It’s an important connection which can only influence their work.”
New starting point
Above all, Bollati feels Davines Village makes an important political statement, one which emphasises the company’s ‘humanistic approach’. “Our new headquarters pays homage to the type of economy we believe in – a humanistic approach where business is conducted ethically and where we offer a good life for all through beauty, ethics and sustainability,” he says. “We’ve changed our focus since we don’t want to be the most admired beauty company ‘in’ the world, instead we’re aspiring to become the best beauty company ‘for’ the world.”
Although the village is still in its soft opening phase – an official global launch is planned for October – Bollati is already looking to the future. “The opening is definitely an achievement, but at the same time it’s a starting point, as it’s allowing us to raise our purpose and to start even more rewarding and exciting new ventures.” “We have all these ideas popping up, like introducing a university, or opening a restaurant [for the public], or a cinema or a theatre for the arts. It’s a new platform for our next set of challenges,” he concludes.