Massimo Vignola: The Brand And The Beginning Of The Baldi Boutique
Gleaming in the heart of Knightsbridge stands the emerald green haven of Harrods. As the immaculately clad doorman opens the glossy gold and glass doors, I find myself in a labyrinth of winding corridors, pushing through a sea of satisfied shoppers, not really having a clue where I am going, until suddenly I find myself in the midst of the pure opulence and splendour that is the Baldi Boutique.
Established in 1867, Baldi is famous the world over for its use of precious materials to create such essential home luxuries as bathtubs, vases, bowls and lamps. The timeless quality and skill of their Florentine master craftsmen, their methods and designs, are used to create objects of art and furnishings that are fit for a palace, and remain, to this day, the signature of Baldis unique brand ethos.
Massimo Vignola, Baldi’s head man in London, greets me, proudly clutching the much sought after Harrods Best Newcomer award. We have exceeded our expected profit margins by 70%! He exclaims excitedly in his suave, Italian accent. Some start considering the Baldi Boutique only opened in Harrods a year ago.
It is a very good response, he acknowledges, ushering me towards the sumptuous objects of fine art that line the Boutique. We knew that, being at the top end of the luxury market, we would have a very strong client base but are still surprised at the fantastic response. We are doing much better than expected. So how did the Baldi-Harrods relationship come about? It started like a love story, Massimo explains cheerfully. There is no other place in London but Harrods that we regard as a real temple of luxury.
Indeed, so fond is Massimos and Baldis new-found appreciation of Harrods that they have come to regard it as their most important boutique globally and have made it their flagship store, unveiling new lines two to three months before releasing them anywhere else in the world. Being in the location of Harrods is like a magnet. It is convenient and monumental and is the epicentre of London. People have a fascination with Harrods and we acknowledge it. Harrods has the magic.
Even in these dark days of fiscal, global meltdown, Baldi appears to have a select, recession-proof clientele, with sales continuing to grow across the board. Admired internationally, particularly in the emerging markets of the Middle East, Russia and China, British clients, surprisingly, considering the death knells of the UK economy, remain exceptional with more sales here than anywhere else. It is safe to say that the UK is responding well to Baldi, We have experienced a major increase in sales in the last year and that’s because our clients keep coming back to buy.
Reminiscent of delicately constructed artefacts in a museum, the boutique makes a bold statement in the art of design and structure by using ancient techniques and materials, alongside a rainbow of classical and contemporary colours such as pink and lilac. Our designs are classically inspired but we are dividing our production line into the contemporary and the classical. We start from the classical as we are an ancient company but we don’t just produce, we create and we do it in accordance with tradition, explains Massimo. Through constant restyling of their range, development of the obscure and exploring new avenues of design to suit the tastes of their clientele, Baldi is able to maintain its utterly unique position within the market place. We have very ambitious plans but, because of the times and the world economic slowdown, we are using this as a chance to improve and create new lines, new catalogues and new marketing initiatives.
With no two pieces alike, most of Baldis items are made to order, nothing is impossible. True to that statement, Baldi created an astonishing three person bath carved out of a single piece of rock crystal found in the Amazonian rainforest. 2.5 metres in diameter, it took 6 months to carve and cost the client 700,000 Euros. However, despite pieces like this, Massimo admits that, it is the little pieces which give life, bigger pieces give importance. Little details communicate personality of purpose.
It is safe to make the assumption that Baldi is absolutely unique, with no other company matching their concepts and high standards. It’s difficult to find a competitor, explains Massimo, because there is no one who makes crystal at this level. We appreciate many luxury brands, like in the fashion and furniture industries that sometimes inspire us, but we feel a bit alone in our market. However, Baldis key influence is their clients, They make us think of something and develop the idea. We get our ideas directly from our clients. Their feedback inspires us to make things that we wouldn’t have otherwise thought of. With prices starting from 400, Baldi remain true to their word, creating the impossible, giving life to objects and, more importantly, pleasure to people.