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Humanist Enterprise


Humanist Enterprise

In the medieval village of Solomeo, where the
peacefulness of the Umbrian countryside and the
wind still evoke the ora et labora (pray and work) ethic
of Saint Benedict of Nursia and the mysticism of
Saint Francis of Assisi, Brunello Cucinelli launched
a new kind of business in 1985. “Making work more
human, with people at its core”: is the dream of this
Umbrian entrepreneur now famous around the world
for his colorful cashmere collections. Scholars and
journalists have written of the profound affinity
linking Brunello to ancient Masters of the Soul such
as Socrates, Seneca and Saint Francis of Assisi: and
that is why they refer to Cucinelli's corporate philosophy
as “ethical capitalism” and a “Humanist enterprise”.
“I have always dreamed of creating useful work for an
important objective. I felt that profit for profit's sake was
not enough, and that there had to be a higher, collective
purpose. I understood that alongside economic well-being
there has to be personal well-being, and that the former
means nothing without the latter.”It is a courageous theory
summarized in what Brunello Cucinelli calls “supreme good”,
which is centered on people: “giving business a meaning that
goes beyond profit and reinvesting to improve the lives of
workers, to enhance and restore the beauty of the world”.




Convinced that the tranquil and beautiful setting would
enhance creativity and build a community where workers
follow a scale of shared values, Brunello Cucinelli made
the 14th century hamlet of Solomeo home to his Humanist
enterprise. The offices and workshops were set up in the
medieval fortress with its wooden beams, stone fireplaces,
frescoed walls and brick floors, while the old farmhouse was
converted into a company canteen preparing the best traditional
Umbrian food. There is profound harmony here, “Because,”
says Brunello, "whoever works with us is a part of the company's life,
no matter what job they do: everyone knows that their work is a key
part of a greater whole. Our “Total Quality” is the result of the inner
qualities of every employee”. Combining ancient and modern, company
objectives and human needs is the secret behind a company whose
innovativeapproach has attracted widespread interest: it has become
an example of modern economics studied by prestigious universities.

Supreme Good


Supreme Good

"Work as an expression of human worth is also a part of
spirituality, and pursues the higher purpose of Supreme Good,”
Brunello Cucinelli likes to remark. Born and raised in Umbria,
he experienced the Franciscan philosophy and took on the message
of the Pauper of Assisi: apply the higher purpose of goodness to all
that you do. Yet how can that be reconciled with a cutting-edge
capitalist business? “Making a profit is part and parcel of business,"
points out Cucinelli, "but for me it's not the be all and end all.
I wouldn't want to live in a world where the sole purpose was to make
a profit. Money has real value only when it is spent to improve the life
and development of people, and that is our goal”. As a result of this
profound conviction, a considerable portion of profits is reinvested
in the company, and part goes towards restoring and renovating
the hamlet. A new cultural system called “Forum of the Arts” has been
created here and includes the theatre, the amphitheatre and the
philosophers garden (where concerts and events are held).
This is what Brunello Cucinelli means when he talks about elements
and structures that improve people's lives.




“A day will come when philosophers will be needed
to rule the world." I've always been fascinated by
Socrates' dream. A Humanist enterprise, ethics and production...
It became increasingly hard for me to abandon an interpretation
of labor and human action that was not founded upon a positive
outlook and trust in the future. ” Today it is apparent that
international politics, great monotheistic religions and philosophical
thought confirm the need for a return to Ethics in every activity.
In fact, the new economic approach aims at employee development
and enhancement as a way to improve a company and to give it a sense
that is not limited to mere profit: this is what Brunello Cucinelli
calls “Supreme Good”. He is therefore an innovator
or, more succinctly, a businessman who successfully anticipated a
global trend. At the Humanist enterprise of Solomeo, employees pursue
a common goal, but one mainly senses a scale of non-material values
that are considered a part of the entire company.

The company follows its own ethical code: inside, through
interpersonal relations, and outside as well, it always places
people first. Thus, each person is responsible for his or her job.
There is no need for heavy-handed regulations, and no
one's individualism is penalized. Freedom is encouraged and,
as Brunello Cucinelli points out: “This creates a united group
where each person has a specific role to play for the good of all.”

My Creed

"I believe in a humanist enterprise: business should
comply in the noblest manner with all the rules of
ethics that man has devised over the centuries.
I dream about a form of modern capitalism with strong
ancient roots, where profit is made without harm or
offence to anyone, and part of it is set aside for
initiatives that really make a difference in
people's lives: services, schools, places of worship
and cultural heritage. In my organization the focal point
is the common good, which is the guiding force in
pursuing prudent and courageous actions. In my business,
people are at the very center of every production process,
because I am convinced that human dignity is restored solely
through rediscovery of the conscience. Work elevates human
dignity and the emotional ties that derive from it. On my daily
path I heed the words of giants from the past, from Socrates
and Seneca to Marcus Aurelius and Alexander the Great.


Corroborated by this spiritual communion and
following the power, simplicity and beauty of this
place steeped in history and charm, I have undertaken
and completed the restoration of the medieval hamlet
of Solomeo over the course of 25 years. My company
is now based here and stays faithful to the precepts
that men such as Leon Battista Alberti, Palladio and
Serlio drew from the classical teachings of Vitruvius.
I believe in the quality and beauty of craftsmanship;
I don't think you can have quality without humanity.
I love the mysticism of Umbria, a mysticism that also
belonged to Saint Francis of Assisi, who loved beauty
and simplicity. I am proud of being from this region,
proud of my passion for philosophy and restoration
and for everything that helps restore beauty and dignity
to the things buried under the dust of time."

Brunello Cucinelli



Brunello Cucinelli was born in Castel Rigone (Perugia)
in 1953. Even as a young man, he was attracted by the
dream of a job that cared more about human values.
As a budding entrepreneur, he realized that colorful
cashmere garments could be a fashion revolution so he
dropped out of college in 1974, where he was studying
engineering, and decided to start a business that would
ultimately make him famous in just a few years. His first
small company was based in Ellera di Corciano near Perugia.
His first main markets were Germany and the United States,
which enjoyed great economic stability. His company steadily
grew and became quite well-known. He has boutiques in the main
squares all over the world– in Milan, New York, Paris, Rome, London,
Tokyo, Moscow, Geneva, Hamburg, Miami and Las Vegas – and
shop-in-shops in the world’s finest department stores.
The group currently has more than 1,000 in-house employees and
approximately 4,000 outside contractors.
It does business around the world with over 1,000 high-end multi-brand
boutiques, all in the luxury sector's main export markets: the United States,
Europe, Japan, Russia and the Far East.

In 1985 Brunello Cucinelli bought the 14th century
castle of Solomeo, a small hamlet close to Perugia
where his then fiancée and now wife Federica Benda lived.
He moved his small cashmere business to Solomeo
and immediately realized that this tiny and almost
desolate cluster of homes was full of beautiful things
rich in nature, history and art such as the castle,
the old parish church, and the 17th century Villa Antinori.
He saw these cultural resources as an extraordinary
chance to develop his business and a wonderful opportunity
to achieve his humanist dream.
He began the extensive restoration project of the hamlet,
which was destined for great results. The project began
with the medieval castle: after restoration that saved this
monument from years of neglect, it became company
headquarters. In this period, Brunello Cucinelli
expanded his business and opened another office on
the outskirts of Solomeo. Unlike the first, this building
was new, surrounded by large orchards and with a garden
full of cedars and pine trees. Now he could fulfill at least
the first part of his humanist dream based on human
dignity and the sanctity of labor, and he did so without
ignoring everyday aspects. The meals served in the two
company canteens were home-made dishes

prepared that morning by the housewives of
Solomeo, made with local products and in the
Umbrian tradition.The bureaucratic practice
of punching the timecard was abolished, and
workers could come and go freely. Even formal
branch hierarchies were eliminated: each person’s
dignity was restored and everyone’s humanistic
values were respected. Over time, restoration
and reclamation projects were completed directly
or in cooperation with public institutions and
organizations. Brunello, however, supervised
the design phase, which he considered crucial
for coordination and for the quality of the results. He
participated in the restoration of the Saint Bartholomew.
Church and the 17th-century parish church of nearby
Vocabolo Mandorleto in cooperation with the people
of Solomeo.
With the town of Corciano, the ancient road network
of the village was restored. Besides his work restoring
artistic and historical monuments, focusing on aspects
concerning architecture and the figurative arts,
Brunello Cucinelli also dedicated his time to social projects:
he donated to the town of Corciano four hectares
of land next to the Solomeo sports complex

for purely recreational use, and he also helped
build the local sports center. Besides his projects for
Solomeo, Brunello also sponsored the construction of the
soccer field in his hometown, Castel Rigone, with stands
for the spectators and park areas with trees, which were a
condition for his involvement in the project. He built a
daycare center in Malawi, Africa and installed a well
for the town’s water needs.
In the fields of education and culture, Brunello Cucinelli
has funded and economically supported several qualified
public and private institutions, the most important of which
are the University of Perugia and the Region and Provinces
of Umbria. In 1998 Brunello received an honorary academic
diploma from the “Pietro Vannucci” Fine Arts Academy in
Perugia. In 2003, the “Biella Cultura” Academy presented
him with the “Homo Faber – Homo Poeticus” award.
In that same year, he also received the prestigious “Best of
the Best” award in the U.S. assigned to the world’s top
companies. In 2004, during the 66th edition of Pitti Uomo,
the world’s most prestigious men’s fashion exhibition,
Brunello received the “Premio Pitti Immagine Uomo” award
for “the creative talent and quality of his collections
combined with an extraordinary ability to valorize Italian
production.” In the same year, the “Robb Report”, the
prestigious luxury lifestyle magazine, awarded Brunello

second consecutive year with this motivation:
“The best and most sophisticated designer in
the cashmere sportswear sector.”
In 2009 he received the “Imprenditore Olivettiano”
award, the “Best of the Best” award from the “Robb
Report” as “the new guide for men’s sportswear”,
the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year prize,
and the “Leonardo Qualità Italia” award. In 2010,
he received the “Confindustria Award for Excellence
Andrea Pininfarina” and the “Forum Prize
Textilwirtschaft” award. At the Quirinale in Rome
(the President’s official residence), Brunello Cucinelli
received the Order of Merit for Labor from Italian
President Giorgio Napolitano.
He also received an Honorary Degree in Philosophy
and Ethics of Human Relations from the University
of Perugia. In May 2011 he received the “Premio Guido
Carli” award for distinguishing himself as an
entrepreneur-philosopher who bases his work on the
fundamental values of respect for people and the
environment. In the same month he also received
the MF “Creatori di Value” award.
Brunello Cucinelli is President of the Repertory Theater
of Umbria, a board member of the Fondazione Cassa
di Risparmio di Perugia, a board member of Pitti Immagine,
and a board member of Altagamma.


November 2012: Knight of Labor ceremony


November 2010: laurea honoris causa in
Scienze della comunicazione e rapporti umani internazionali
Università degli stranieri di Perugia

All awards


Lectio Doctoralis

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