Jewels of sophistication
This architectural journey takes us towards the Brenner pass and Italy’s border with Austria.
Our destination is the industrial district of Mils, a town located just outside the Tyrolean capital of Innsbruck and home to the „Westa by Oliver Weber“ jewellery-making business. In a recently constructed modern building, jewellery and design objects featuring Swarovski crystals are produced, sold and shipped worldwide.
Weber’s is an extraordinary success story. After representing his country in the ski world cup, at the age of 27 he walked away from the world of competition and professional sport. He enrolled at university, then launched a creative joint venture with Swarovski, world leader in the field of crystal jewellery. Just three years later he set up a new company together with Alexander Westa Stabinger.
The Oliver Weber Collection brand is now renowned and esteemed all over the world. In the space of about a year, construction work was complete and the jewellery business finally had a new home worthy of its brand name. Designed by Austrian architect Christian Rinner, it is a two-floor building with a total floor space of 2,000 square metres.
The Oliver Weber Collection’s combination of high-quality materials and innovative design is reflected in the premises. The building has a modern design and a prominent façade clad with silver and blue steel panels bearing the company’s logo. As the building faces directly onto the motorway, this sign plays an important advertising role. „Our motto is: form follows function,“ the architect explained. The rationalist layout makes a clear reference to the modern movement, a kind of Villa Savoye dedicated to the advanced tertiary sector. Outside, at street level, slender pillars – „pilotis“ as Le Corbusier would have called them – raise the volume from the ground while at the same time creating a covered parking area and offering convenient access both to people working in the building and to customers – a particularly important feature for a jewellery maker.
Upon entering the building, visitors are welcomed into a space that immediately puts them at ease, creating a reassuring sensation of being „at home“ – not in the domestic sense of the term but as a familiar location that is also to a certain extent classical and rooted in tradition. The references are cityscapes and urban decor. White and anthracite coloured bands, reminiscent perhaps of certain Romanesque buildings, run along the walls, accompanying visitors as they proceed through the various areas, open, airy spaces that are more reminiscent of an art gallery than a functioning showroom. Indeed, modern artworks and theme installations grace the corridors and offices of the jewellery business, in elegant contrast to the more functional look of the surface covering materials. For the floors and walls, the architect chose the Absolute Stone porcelain tile collection produced by Gardenia Orchidea. The tiles have a lightly satined surface with an almost imperceptible texture reminiscent of the surface of hewn stone smoothed by the flow of water, accentuating the appearance of a traditional material. With an almost vibrant touch, they feature a translucent wave motif and display an unusual sense of depth.
The textures and colours reflect the motifs used on the ground floor, in a skilful exercise in continuity. The stairway to the various levels, visually striking with its clear glass parapet, uses the same ceramic materials and an alternation of dark and pale-coloured strips on the steps. The risers are intentionally left empty to offer unexpected viewpoints and to enhance the sense of space and lightness.
In short, it is a project in which the architecture and the contents are not only interrelated but actually enhance their respective characteristics.