Davines Village, the Scientific Garden
Embodying [comfort zone] founder's commitment to always combine science and nature, the features and the sense of the new open-air lab are well described in Dr. Bollati's interview to Spa Business. Italian skin innovator, [comfort zone], launched its sustainable factory in 2018 and has now followed with the opening of a scientific garden to reinforce its commitment to environmentalism and nature.
Founder and president Dr Davide Bollati shares his vision with Liz Terry, Editor in Chief of Spa Business.
Last year, you launched your Davines Village. Now you’ve opened a garden to complete it. What’s your vision?
A strong belief that nature is more than a resource: it’s the essence of our own life as humans, of our beauty and happiness. We needto learn from it day after day – from its endless variety, as well as its constant evolution and capacity to adapt, survive and thrive. This is why I wanted to see the amazing Davines Village by Matteo Thun completed with a Scientific Garden. It has many characteristics. It’s an open-air lab, able to recall ancient traditions and to inspire cutting-edge, high-performing formulae and it also reminds us about sustainable lifestyles through its functional and aesthetic dimensions.
The idea of a botanical garden dedicated to scientific research has always been in my mind. Science and nature – the two souls of our brands – can co-exist, enabling us to offer sustainable, clean beauty.
Why are plants so important to you?
They represent an endless source of inspiration and knowledge: they teach us the meaning of beauty and through their ‘clever’ organisation, they teach us the value of interconnection, which is more vital than ever for our existence, our society and our planet. Nature is truly able to mesmerize us and encourage us to get in contact with something deeper than what we see before us. Unfortunately, modern society has taken it for granted and exploited it in a blind, ruthless way: I strongly believe we need to commit ourselves to regenerating nature and always including it in our lives, in our work and in our projects for the sake of our future.
You chose landscape designers del Buono Gazerwitz to design the garden. What was their brief?
I asked them to include areas dedicated to specific plants, according to their function – such as cosmetic, edible, ornamental – in a harmonious, distinctive and beautiful layout. The dream was to make it easy for the experts from our R&D team to access it, while also being restorative and inspiring for all the members of our team, who can walk or work there. I also envisioned it as an enjoyable, educational experience of wellbeing and recharging that we can offer our guests when they come and visit us in Parma.
How was the plant selection done? What were the criteria for selection?
Our garden includes over 6,000 herbaceous plants, shrubs and fruit trees from all over the world. The selection of the varieties is the result of cooperation between the Davines Laboratories and the University of Florence: together they identified the properties of the various species that were relevant for the development of products by Davines, Comfort Zone and Skin Regimen – our brands which are dedicated to haircare and skincare.
Priority was given to species with antioxidant properties, such as Cornel tree and Osmanthus; anti-inflammatory properties, such as hibiscus, and boosters of micro-circulation, such as yarrow. We also have an arboretum with trees of the countries where our brands are distributed, to celebrate the interconnection we have with our partners and their local landscapes and communities.
How will you use the garden?
The Scientific Garden, along with the Green Courtyards, are unique spaces where we will study, work, gather and relax and they are dedicated to our team. They’re also a testament to inclusiveness and are open to visitors who want to come and learn more about our vision. They represent a key opportunity to meet and share with our partners, our experts and our guests from all over the world.
You’ve set the garden up with power supplies so the team can work in it. Do you see this as a trend?
The digital era has made it possible to work anywhere and be in touch with people all around the world, but at the same time, we’re often deprived of contact with nature and our siblings. Working in a garden addresses a vital and very modern need: to have the freedom to work where we feel we can perform at our best and also enjoy every moment of it.
Besides, studies prove that although it feels a luxury, enabling them to be in nature is the best investment we can make as entrepreneurs in our staff’s productivity and satisfaction.
Will the theme of the garden influence your product development and CSR work?
From next year, we’ll launch products which contain ingredients from plants which grow in our Scientific Garden. We’ll also keep welcoming guests from around the world who want to understand more about the concept of Sustainable Beauty. The garden will be one of the sites included in the #parma2020 celebrations, when our city will be Capital of Culture for Italy.
The spirit of the garden will also inspire other social projects that are designed to regenerate nature and society, such as the 2030 Summit for Responsible Leaders which will cover climate action, innovative growth and social happiness. One of our CSR projects is The Green Kilometer – an 11 km section of one of the busiest highway in Italy. A number of companies have committed to greening it and Davines is the first to complete its portion, with over 400 trees planted.
With the Climate Emergency a concern, do you think all companies should commit to creating greenspace?
I don’t think every company can have a garden, but I believe every company can find meaningful ways to protect nature, to support re-forestation and the use of clean energy, as well as ensuring the people who work with and for them are educated to respect and benefit from it in a sustainable way.