Design, Design Inspiration, Life in Italy

A day at the Bevilacqua factory

While strolling along the streets near the stazione (train station) of Venice I decided to give Bevilacqua a call to see if I could make an appointment for a tour of their factory. Luigi Bevilacqua, born in the 1800s, designed two layer baroque velvets that have today become the essence of Venice and inspiration to some designers such as Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana. His fabrics drape the walls of the royals as wallpaper, are reupholstered onto the chairs and couches of the rich and famous, and made into bags….but for me is eye candy with the dream of one day adorning my products. Dream big.

So this blog post is about my experience being inside this hidden gem of Venice (literally almost hidden as I couldn’t find it) and sadly almost forgotten by the Venitians themselves-as stated by my personal guide who works for Bevilacqua.On the outside it appears to be small when you think of the word factory. I guess my American mind immediately goes to HUGE being born from a mass-producing country. Well, Bevilacqua makes handmade velvets which doesn’t take as much space as machinery, and besides, Italians do well with small spaces. Walking into the building and down the hall I was opened up to a huge room filled with wooden machines that they have been using since the beginning.

Threads ran in all directions with hues of gold and red, and hot pink even.

img_5918                           Most fabrics being made were the classic baroque style…very detailed, very full, using deep colors with gold backgrounds. Others instead were modern with animal prints and Chinese florals. Gloria (my guide) explained that anyone can make a design that they want and have it made at the factory, with an additional cost of course and possibly adapated slightly in order to maintain Bevilacqua’s signature look. At this point I was already imagining what kind of fabrics I could have made until the dealbreaker of 5,000 a meter broke my heart.

Let’s not think about the price. Afterall, if we ever win the lottery it could be attainable! So let’s get into how it’s made and what makes it stand out from all other velvets!

The process is tedious only being able to work 40cm of the fabric a day. There are a series of strings and contraptions, a paper pattern that the machine follows, a foot lever, and lots of noise. Gloria explains it better down under

There are two layers…truly three if you count the golden base fabric. The base fabric can be either cotton or silk. One layer is a darker or sometimes lighter color to give an effect of shading or highlighting, the higher level of velvet is the main color of the piece that is cut by a raisor. The only way to have these two levels of velvet is to operate by hand. When working with machines instead (which is the usual process) there can only be one level. Needless to say a machine can pump out yards and yards of fabric a day and that is why there is a huge cost difference. If you look closely at this photo you can see the highlighting which gives form to the design. It’s like painting with thread!img_5915

We wrapped it up by going into the fabric room FIT for a very sophisticated venitian pillow fight.

I was so amazed at the depth of explaination Gloria gave to me. I’m sure she had lots of fabrics to work on but took the time to go into the dirty details. I can’t believe that most of Venice has left this factory to itself-or to the tourists and foreigners to discover! It’s almost like if you’re not located in San Marco’s square you’ll foot the bill. Whatever, it worked out to my benefit and maybe keeps Bevilacqua that much more special being secluded. All in all, great fabrics will sell themselves.

So now I want to ask you, would you buy a product such as a line of luxurious Christmas stockings with Bevilacqua’s fabric at a high end price if it was available on the market? What could be made with this fabric for the every day person who loves luxury but is grounded?





5 thoughts on “A day at the Bevilacqua factory”

  1. Hi…absolutely would love to visit this factory! We will be in Venice in September, but I am not having success in finding contact information for the factory. Can you possibly share an email address for them so I can schedule a visit? Please and thank you!

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