A meat boutique
Michele Piccolo Giovanna Matino
As soon as you step inside Bifulco Exclusive, a butcher’s shop and sandwich bar housed in a 1950s former factory in the town of Ottaviano near Naples, you are struck by the vibrancy and power of a project centred around the meat produced by the Bifulco family, butchers for four generations. The Michele Piccolo+Partners architecture firm was commissioned to renovate the complex and create sophisticated spaces, a glamorous and functional location ideal for selling and tasting the family’s products. Built on two 300 square metre levels, the ground floor houses the butcher’s shop, « designed along the lines of a jewellery store and clearly inspired by the meat boutiques of northern Europe », explains Michele Piccolo. Rather than a conventional retail outlet, the client wanted to surprise and intrigue customers with a design that « would draw attention to the products and use space in such a way as to satisfy the four senses of sight, hearing, touch and smell » (not to mention taste, of course). In a theatre-like setting where the colour black serves as a backdrop to the bright red of the meat products, the materials are combined in an intriguing and sensorial mix without neglecting the overall harmony of the space as a whole. The chosen materials include marble countertops inspired by butcher’s shops of the past alongside traditional wood and glass, used to create fresh visual perspectives thanks to its transparency; metal and brass details, their gold colour extending through the entire space and serving to break up the monotony of the black and white; and no less importantly ceramic tiles, which were chosen to deliver the necessary functionality for this kind of application while defining the aesthetics of the floors. « Drawing inspiration from the classic Carrara white marble traditionally used in butcher’s shops, we used custom tiles to create a decoration that avoids the use of colour, » explains Piccolo. The marble-effect Evolution Marble porcelain collection from Marazzi, chosen in the Calacatta and Nero Marquinia versions, was cut to create nineteen basic elements which were subsequently assembled into a geometric pattern « somewhere between a Greek fret and a weave, making for a truly unique surface « , explains the architect. The first floor of the Bifulco Exclusive houses a gourmet sandwich bar with a large professional kitchen and custom-made furnishings. The unifying feature of the space is the harmonious continuity of the floor consisting of slabs from the Marazzi Grande Metal Look collection with the unusual Iron Light metallic texture, chosen in the large 60×320 cm size and 6 mm thickness, combined with inserts of natural materials. The glossy reflections and decorations create a sensation of warmth and make the large space more welcoming. « After all, architecture is alchemy, it involves creating eye-catching solutions without sacrificing functionality, » says Piccolo.