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Specialized in velvet textiles and damask Renaissance designs, Tessitura Bevilacqua produces world’s finest velvets while preserving the ancient Venetian textile.The pure art of creating unique fabrics with individual details and color gradients that infuse historical designs with a hint of modernity. A family business whose story is woven in the fabric of Venice’s rich artistic history, the Bevilacqua’s presence in the textile world dates back to 1499. Founded by Luigi Bevilacqua in 1875, today the company is managed by brothers Rodolfo and Alberto Bevilacqua, who carry on the family business and tradition.

Luigi Bevilacqua palace, at number 1320 Santa Croce, Venice, currently hosts 18 looms. They are all original 18th-century machines, the very same devices owned by the school and acquired by Luigi in 1875. Some of the most prestigious brands of the world of high fashion keep on requesting Bevilacqua’s fabrics to make exclusive clothes and accessories. Among the most prestigious supplies are to mention the White House, the Royal Palace of Kuwait, the Swedish Royal family, the Kremlin in Moscow and the Royal Palace in Dresden. One of the numerous masterpieces located in Venice could be admired in Gran Caffè Quadri on St. Mark’s Square that we have visited recently.

Tessitura Bevilacqua is the only company carrying on an extremely ancient Venetian tradition of handwoven velvet, whose roots date back to the 14th century. To produce a velvet, one needs to start by drawing the pattern one wants to realize. Tessitura Bevilacqua’s historical archive contains around 3,500 drawings, through which one could take a journey into history: from the middle ages to the Deco period. The fabrics can be an exact copy of their historical model, or can be customized, changing its colors and quality to meet the customer’s needs. As well as the drawings, the archive holds a series of weave drafts: these are technical drawings containing all the information necessary to punch the cardboard cards for the Jacquard machine.

Each hole corresponds to a thread, and each card represents half a millimeter of the fabric’s pattern. For example, a pattern with a repeat of 1.5 meter requires 3,000 punched cards. Many of these cards, punched more than a century ago, are kept on a tall set of shelves on the walls of the tessitura.They aren’t used anymore, though, because they’re too fragile. In addition to making the drawing, one needs to prepare the loom: this may take up to six months and involve knotting 16,000 threads. Once the warp has been loaded on the loom, the bobbins are in their right place, and the punched cards have been loaded, it’s time to start weaving.

Tessitura Bevilacqua has both a mechanical and a manual production. The latter is also the one with the most complex manufacturing: the soprarizzo velvet. It is a peculiar velvet, typical of Venice, with two different kinds of pile: curly velvet and cut velvet. It owes its name to the fact that the cut velvet is over the curly one: hence sopra-riccio or soprarizzo (“over-the- curl”). The difference between these two manufactures both enriches the drawing and creates different shades of color, by using the same threads. Indeed, curly velvet reflects light and appears to be brighter, whereas cut velvet absorbs light and is therefore darker. The manufacturing process is extremely complex, since each loom can produce only a few tens of centimeters per day. But the delight of producing something unique, whose secret only few people in the world know, is worth all the effort.

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