More and more time spent in the office: sustainable design can improve life and work. Materials and functions in a complex in Parma – a green view from every workstation
After 34 years, Davines moved. From its longstanding premises in Via Ravasini in Roncopascolo, at the doorstep of Parma, the hair and skin products group moved to Davines Village, in the Fiere district, with an investment of about 45 million euro, according to CEO Paolo Braguzzi’s reports to Italian newspaper La Repubblica. The new facility aims to be a contemporary reinterpretation of the typical Po Valley house with courtyard. It was designed by MTLC belonging to Luca Colombo and Matteo Thun, the first-born of the South Tyrolean business family Thun, and son of Countess Thun, creator of the Bolzano angel and the ceramics that bear her name. The Village covers a surface area of 77,000 square meters, of which 20 per cent is for offices, training, research and development, production and storage. The center of the company is a glass structure in the middle of the complex: a glasshouse containing a restaurant and co-working spaces.
The interiors were created by Molteni&C|Dada Contract Division, the group that designed 27 apartments in Milan’s Bosco Verticale, according to the concept of interior designer Monica Signani. For the furnishings of the communal working areas – conference rooms and co-working spaces – handcrafted materials and finishes were chosen: galvanic bronze for the bases, tops in linoleum as a tribute to old 1950s desks, edging in etched brass, natural woods with oil finish and back-painted glass tops. In the reception area, the counter is covered in Sivec white marble, with asymmetrical vertical fluting and decorated with etched brass edging. The complex, built with a minimum of brick wall, is designed to allow each workstation a view of greenery. The roof and facade are cased in titanium-zinc sheet metal by the Italian Zintek. The remaining eighty per cent, designed by the London-based landscape architecture studio Del Buono Gazerwitz, is for different kinds of green areas, a place where biodiversity can thrive. Recently opened is the Orto Scientifico covering 3000 square meters, a garden with plants boasting antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and aromatic properties to be used to formulate hair and skin care products. The plants are arranged in line with the concept of ‘companion planting’ – an order that prevents the chance of disease or insect infestation. Tagetes is planted with aromatic herbs and vegetables, thus minimizing infestations by various parasites and eliminating the use of chemical products.
Davines Village uses certified renewable sources, such as photovoltaic panels, a thermal solar plant and a geothermal system. The organic waste from the restaurant in the complex – catered by Vicook, from the partnership with the Cerea family of the Michelin-starred restaurant Da Vittorio – feeds the garden that surrounds the building using a dehydration plant that enables the organic waste produced to be recycled to maintain the green areas. The facility is completely free from single-use plastic. Plastic cups, cutlery and water bottles have been replaced by glass, porcelain, steel and by the supply of insulated stainless steel bottles to all employees to fill with filtered tap water. Water wastage is avoided by using the natural aquifers in the subsoil of the site. They collect rainwater, which is drawn by way of a well to irrigate the garden and the Orto Scientifico. The water used for irrigation returns to the subsoil, topping up the aquifers.
Sustainability brings revenue. From an experimental survey by Istat in 2018, which examined portions of the financial statements of 14,000 Italian businesses and their relative levels of sustainability, it emerged that the more sustainable ones also have higher productivity – with an increase in production of between 5 and 15 per cent. Bruno Munari claimed that “a rational concept of the social function of industrial design cannot but repudiate the production of useless objects. Objects born of ideas linked only to the most banal sense of decoration, gratuitous and unjustified”. From the end of the 1960s, the ecological debate began to involve design. It was initially favored by a lack of materials and resources, not an ethical choice. In the sectors involved in technological research into eco-compatible materials, alternative energies and industrial production, the situation was different. Here, attention to the environment came earlier. The founders of the English Arts and Crafts movement, at the end of the nineteenth century, were the first to report the problems of environmental neglect. From that moment on, design and ecology began to influence each other, until the dawn of Chernobyl. From 1986, the idea of using eco-friendly materials in industry became necessary. In the 20th century, attention shifted to the design of low environmental impact products. The concept of life cycle was introduced to evaluate products throughout their entire lifespan, from design to disposal, with the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) method assessing the environmental effects of all processes in a product’s life in relation to product performance.
Founded in Parma in 1983 by the Bollati family– spouses Silvana and Gianni – as a small hair care research and production laboratory for third parties, it expanded in 1992 with the Davines brand, producing and distributing its own products. In 1994 distribution went international and two years later, the Comfort Zone brand was created for spas, beauty farms and wellness centers – cosmetics, natural creams, shampoo. Attention to the environment began in 2006, when the Parma site started using electricity obtained from renewable sources and the first carbon offset project was launched. With branches in New York, Paris, London, Hong Kong, Mexico City and in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, the group is now setting its sights on China, Korea and Japan. 2017 closed with a turnover of 127 million euro, with 15 per cent growth recorded in 2018. Its products are used in over 34,000 hairdressing salons and beauty centers.IMAGE GALLERY
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