City of Westminster, London, UK
A flagship retail outlet for Azzedine Alaïa in New Bond Street which follows the increasing trend for Maison retail with museum-quality space and lighting
Working closely with Mr Alaïa and Kris Ruhs, the team developed a stripped back interior which highlighted the historic building elements, while enabling the showcase of Alaïa couture and merchandise.
Key interventions include the creation of a new two storey retail frontage as well as a dramatic new steel spiral staircase linking three of the floors in the centre of the store plan, developed with Marzorati Ronchetti. A new lift with integrated lighting has been installed in the rear of the store which links all four levels.
Lighting is integral across the design concept and aside from carefully considered display lighting, also includes a lighting sculpture by Kris Ruhs and a series of dramatic lighting pendants designed by Marc Newson – also a signature element in Alaïa stores in Paris. Throughout the store Pierre Paulin has designed display elements and tables in a rich orange colour chosen specifically for this store.
Somewhat unusually within New Bond Street, the building already had a two-storey retail frontage as part of its elevational composition – an arrangement we have retained and enhanced as part of the scheme.
Framed by two columns with abstracted capitals, the primary opening is topped by a deeply rusticated granite arch with a projecting keystone, and offers a rich contrast to the new shopfront set within it.
The new shopfront is an elegant and carefully proportioned timber construction with three principal zones: the main retail base is split into three arched openings, with central frameless doors giving access to the boutique. This is topped by a fascia on which the shop signage is mounted.
The existing first floor window framing has been incorporated into the façade, with new low-iron glass to improve visibility into and out of the boutique. The retained granite façade, parts of which were painted over, has been cleaned and repaired, and a cantilevered flagpole added following the example set by other retail units in the street.
Inside the store, the space-planning has been simplified with an existing accommodation stair removed and replaced with a dramatic steel spiral staircase with a clear glass balustrade that links all three principal retail levels, and is the focus as you walk into the store.
The finishes palette within the store is restrained to provide a neutral background against which the furniture, sculptural retail displays and, of course, the fashion itself is set.
A new glass passenger lift has been installed to the rear of the store to provide access to all four levels and integrates a bespoke lighting installation on all levels.
Throughout the project lighting has been a primary consideration, with feature and display lighting all carefully considered and integrated into the proposals by Nulty+, including the lining of the lift shaft and dramatic sculptural pendants by Marc Newson.
Services are exposed, but match the ceiling colour to reduce their visual prominence. Bursts of rich orange appear via the display elements, designed by Pierre Paulin in this colour exclusively for the store.
This store forms part of a new generation of museum-style retail interiors in which the experience of the space, and the curation of elements of sculpture and merchandise within it, is a fundamental part of the retail strategy