He is an Italian entrepreneur, but also a philosopher. That's what many call him because of his care, demonstrated in practice by the concrete gestures towards the people who work for him and for the local area, Solomeo, near Perugia, Umbria, from where his business began. Brunello Cucinelli, the King of Cashmere, turns 70 and celebrates in his homeland, where it was his firm desire that his company should stay and grow with many projects that aim precisely at reinforcing quality of life, including spiritual life, with the mirage of democratic wisdom to be disseminated as inspiration for beauty, which is of course also the basis of his collections.
The many awards received over the years also recognize this quality. In 2010, he received an honorary Master's in Philosophy and Ethics of Human Relations from the University of Perugia, and he was later appointed Cavaliere del Lavoro by the President of the Italian Republic. In 2017, the influential Kiel Institute awarded him the Global Economy Prize for the World Economy for representing "[...] the tradition of the honorable merchant at its best."
In 2018, the University of Messina judged Brunello Cucinelli to be a “concrete thinker, cultural promoter and true patron of our times,” when it awarded him an honorary PhD in Philosophy. In the same year, he was awarded the title of Cavaliere di Gran Croce of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.
And in 2023, the luxury department store Neiman Marcus has honored him with the Neiman Marcus Award for Distinguished Service in the Field of Fashion, an international award bestowed on the people around the world who have most influenced fashion. What is certainly special about the story of Brunello—who has just celebrated his 70th birthday—is his ability to give substance to his creative spirit, always driven by the desire to learn and to share new discoveries with as many people as possible.
Even though he travels a lot, he always comes back to Solomeo, where he put such great passion into building works such as the Forest of Spirituality, restoring the village, including the castle and the church, building a theater and creating the Monument to the Dignity of Man. He has thus transformed this village into a tour of humanity, “which moves from spirituality, above, to history, art and culture, to the work of man, artisan or farmer, and to the celebration of that entity that is the creator of all this according to the laws of Creation: the human person."
The latest projects devised under this way of thinking include the idea for a 'Universal Library’. “The idea of time took us back, to Hadrian the Emperor, and even further back, to Alexander the Great, men who successfully combined dreams with actions for the benefit of the world,” Cucinelli says, explaining how the idea for the project came about. “We remembered that both loved books: Hadrian thought that he who founds a library is like one who builds a granary for the spirit; and one of Alexander’s most important generals was Ptolemy, who in the new founding city, Alexandria, wanted to build the most famous library in the world.
And so we said to ourselves, why not—even in our own small way—follow the dream of those great men, why not do it here in Solomeo, almost as a necessary and desired thing, a great library, which thanks to the universality of the thought of the authors of the books that will fill it can itself be imagined as "universal"?
The Universal Library of Solomeo—which is expected to come to open by the end of 2024 in the 18th-century villa formerly owned by Guidarello—will be home to between 400 and 500,000 books on the various topics of human knowledge. There will be philosophy, certainly, but also architecture, literature, poetry and crafts.
Why not—even in our own small way—follow the dream of those great men, why not do it here in Solomeo, almost as a necessary and desired thing, a great library, which thanks to the universality of the thought of the authors of the books that will fill it can itself be imagined as "universal"?
"I would like to begin to preserve, year after year, ancient wisdom from many parts of the world; where anyone, if they wish, can enter to study, to read a book, but also to walk in the park, which essentially becomes the public park of Solomeo, and which, my architect friend and I, imagine a bit like Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli, perhaps with some reminders and corners that make me think of the beautiful places that so charmed me during my travels in Greece; and I would also like to plant a vegetable garden, in homage to Cicero, who said that ‘If you have a library and a vegetable garden nearby, you will lack nothing in life.’
I imagine Solomeo, the Village of Cashmere and Harmony, as an uninterrupted and amiable sequence of parks, noble buildings and streets filled with flowers, which after all, as I have imagined for so many years, is one big park. Somewhat in accordance with what Strabo said of the Library of Alexandria, composed of various rooms for the periodic symposium of the learned, as well as for other kinds of important gatherings, such as, for example, assemblies and debates or celebratory speeches, or even for social events. This is the image I have of the new project, which to me seems visionary.”
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