For a brand with such a storied heritage of old world luxury, it might seem surprising that Bulgari also keep one eye firmly on the future. But you only need to step into the Bulgari Hotel in Knightsbridge (its deep wood tones cohabiting with super contemporary design notes) to see that mixing historic grandeur with cutting edge technology is most certainly the order of the day for the house. Case in point: Bulgari’s partnership with internationally renowned tech designer and film maker Keiichi Matsuda. Working at the forefront of developing augmented reality technologies, Matsuda also happens to be one of its most engaging critics.
Those tensions – he both works for tech advancement, for the virtual reality technologies that will one day replace smartphones as everyday tools, but is also acutely wary of them – make for a particularly pertinent short film entitled Hyper-Reality. It may only be a hair over six minutes, but what this startling, Columbia-set picture highlights plays on the mind long after it’s finished; namely, that ceaseless technological “progress” might not be everything it’s cracked up to be. Fans of Black Mirror will no doubt recognise a certain dsytopian streak at play in the film with its suspicion of gadgetry’s potential for power abuses and disturbing degrees of commercialization – but we’ll let the film (above) do the talking.
Still, it wasn’t all intellectual terror when Wonderland popped along to Hyper-Reality‘s world premiere. Yep, it’s safe to say that the opulence of the Bulgari Hotel and a champagne reception will quickly assuage any existential fears about technology’s dark side. Plus, guests were treated to not just a Q&A with Matsuda, but also another of his unique films: Vedute Di Roma, a tribute to Bulgari’s 130th anniversary (back in 2014) that’s inspired by the etchings of Giovanni Battista Piranesi and utilises state of the art 3D scanning equipment to show Bulgari’s best pieces nestled amid the immaculate detail of Rome’s greatest landmarks . Not bad for a Wednesday evening, is it?