One of Venice’s many treasures shaped the history of prestigious Italian textiles, and more specifically, of Venetian velvets. We’re talking about Tessitura Bevilacqua, a multi-centennial reality that blended tradition with innovation throughout its history and is still renowned all across the world for its prestigious home furnishing and high fashion textiles: velvet, damask, lampas, brocade and the precious hand-woven soprarizzo velvet.
The Bevilacqua family has been deeply rooted in the world of textiles for centuries. In 1499, Giovanni Mansueti painted “San Marco trascinato alla sinagoga” which, as stated in an ornamental cartouche, was commissioned by a certain “Giacomo Bevilacqua Tessitore” (Giacomo Bevilacqua, Weaver), among others. Moreover, according to some historical documents, Bevilacqua weavers already existed back in the 15th Century.
In 1875, Luigi Bevilacqua and his partner founded their textile manufacturing company in Venice, recovering old looms from the Scuola della Seta della Serenissima, which Napoleon had closed in 1806 with the rest of the city’s weaving mills as a way to safeguard French textile production. And so, in an historical building situated in Fondamenta San Lorenzo, in Sestiere Castello, they decided to use the 19th-Century Jacquard machine to speed up production while preserving the high quality of Venetian velvet.
Today, the company is still using the same looms and machines to create its prestigious velvets, the most precious of which is the soprarizzo or soprariccio velvet, that owes its name to the combination of both cut (and smooth) and uncut (and curly) piles. A unique quality of velvet that power looms can’t reach, and the result of an ancient art that just a handful of weaving mills across the world still carry on. Just preparing the looms requires months of work, and once they’re finally ready, only thirty centimetres of fabric are produced each daA long process that requires patience and precision, resulting in a soft, shimmering fabric – since the two types of velvet reflect light in different ways, creating beautiful chromatic plays of light, shade and depth, where the cut velvet looks darker, and the curly velvet lighter.
The patterns of Bevilacqua textiles come from an archive of over 3500 drawings ranging from Byzantine art to Renaissance, Baroque and contemporary art. Nowadays, these textiles are produced for high fashion, old building’s restoration, but most of all, for prestigious homes and luxury hotels such as the Metropole in Venice.
Overlooking the Laguna with breath-taking views of the San Giorgio Island, the Exclusive Damasco Suite boasts Tessitura Bevilacqua’s Torcello silk damask both in its curtains and wall upholstery. This silk owes its name to one of Venice’s islands, and was selected to recreate the warm, rich Oriental atmosphere by which the Suite is inspired.
Damask is a wonderful fabric – light, silky, bright and shimmering with shiny patterns on a matte background (or viceversa), due to the different ways that the fabric reflects light. It was also one of the most popular fabrics in the 18th Century, which is also the century that the suite’s furniture dates back to – although the pattern of the Torcello damask recalls the wide, oval structures of 16th-Century textiles that are repeated horizontally across the whole fabric. Within these oval structures, a figure composed of curved branches and leaves recalls the shape of a pine cone, and can also be found on the precious velvet that covers the Suite’s pillows.
Richly decorated with prestigious textiles and furniture, this Suite embodies the exclusivity and luxury of a magical place – a precious gem nestled in the magnificent jewel that is Venice.
Discover the fascinating story of Tessitura Bevilcqua, the creator of the precious textiles in Hotel Metropole’s Damasco Suite.
He graduated in Political Science in 1975 at the University of Padua. Since 1995, he’s been the CEO of his family’s company, Tessitura Luigi Bevilacqua, overlooking the Great Canal. Here, using original looms from the 18th Century and thanks to the skilled hands of weavers, unique masterpieces are created each day, combining richness, elegance, luxury and beauty with the unique Venetian savoir-faire.