Franco Cologni

After a long career with Cartier and in Richemont Group’s top management, today he is the chairman of the Haute Horlogerie Foundation and of the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (S.I.H.H.) in Geneva. He was the brain behind numerous key international projects. His career in top management has always been accompanied by a passion for the arts and culture as an opinion leader, journalist, writer, applied-arts historian, publisher. He is the chairman and leading force of the “Fondazione Cologni per i Mestieri d’Arte”, a private foundation safeguarding the arts and crafts.

You have for many years been a leading figure in the luxury goods world. What’s the relationship between luxury goods and design?

Design is to luxury goods what salt is to a good risotto… A luxury goods article lives on and is nourished by creativity: in its creation, its communication, in every phase of its development from concept to market launch. A luxury good must always be authentic, original, innovative, unexpected. These are its distinguishing traits, the ones that justify its existence. This is why investing in creative talent is absolutely vital.

Creative Academy was your idea. What made you create a design school?

The conviction that discovering new design artists, cultivating them, educating them and, if possible, keeping them for one’s own is the most profitable form of investment for the luxury goods world. This led to the idea for an innovative project like the one I suggested to the Richemont Group which has welcomed the important opportunity of being directly involved in training. Today, Creative Academy produces highly specialised young creative artists, for the Richemont Group and the luxury goods sector in general , through a direct passage from school to the workplace. For me personally, this school obliges me to keep my eyes firmly fixed on the future and it is great source of satisfaction for my inquisitive spirit always alive to new challenges. Too many just talk; only a few actually do something. This school is an example of “doing”.

In your opinion, what’s the difference between this master’s course in design compared to the many courses available worldwide?

Firstly, Creative Academy gives general and specialised training to young designers from around the world. This training focalises on luxury goods related to the Richemont brands, i.e. timewear, jewellery and accessories. This very precise scope is the school’s primary distinguishing trait. Most other design masters are general courses, whereas our training is specific and we encourage our designers to channel their creativity towards the brand and the final client.

The second distinctive factor is the teaching programme, which is structured in such a way as to root theory into practice, in other words in the work world.

In real terms, what does creative academy gives its young designers?

A school, a job, 360° specialised training in the luxury goods world. A lot of practical work on real projects, an end-of-course three-month internship with the various Richemont Group brands. But only to the best. Our young designers have to merit such a great opportunity. It’s far more than just a promise: up to now, over half our master-course students have found a permanent job with the Richemont Group. However, the others acquire nonetheless an excellent passport to the luxury goods sector and can aspire to major professional roles: from the simple designer to the stylist who creates a whole collection or even the art director responsible for brand-related creativity.