Luxury jewelry and giftware stores are waking up. They have been as traditionally stuffy as banks in their design, but their globe-trotting clientele is demanding an upgrade. Bored out of their minds, they want an edge, a spark, a something, to break up the monotony and to add some interest.
We've featured a few, including Octium in Kuwait,- Podium Paris and Solange Azagury-Partridge London and here is another to add to that list: The two-level Faraone jewelery boutique in Milan, on Via Montenapoleone, envisioned by architect Massimo Iosa Ghini. whose retail design work includes showrooms for Maserati and Ferrari.
At Faraone, his subdued, metallic setting for the items on display symbolizes the precious-metal setting of a ring or pendant that sets out the stones, engraving and minute details.
There is also a cool, retro factor, reminiscent of the mysterious estate jewelry areas in luxury department stores of the past. The soft nappa leather chairs and the tone-on-tone carpeting add to the feel of being inside a jewelry box. - Tuija Seipell.
Kirk Originals eyewear company opened its London flagship store on Conduit Street in the West End this week with a swanky launch party.
London-based Campaign designed the pared-down, dramatic retail environment of the 66 square-meter boutique.
The black-and-white color palette, only one eyewear wall with 187 “heads” for frames, and practically no furnishings ensure that customers will focus on the eyewear, not the trappings. Eye examinations and fitting take place in the basement, away from the main display space. Large graphics of winking eyes in the window speak the same, clear language leaving no doubt about what they sell.
Established more than two decades ago, Kirk Originals is still run by Jason and Karen Kirk from their home near Bordeaux, France. Kirk Originals are available in more than 40 countries. - Tuija Seipell
The Moscow-based Podium Fashion Groupl is involved in numerous fashion ventures, but what caught our eye is the Podium 1 jewelry store in Paris (at 334, rue St.-Honore, Paris 1er, right across from Colette). The tiny shop (50 square metres) oozes glamour and old money, patina and luxury.
The rich feel is created through textured wallpaper, dark antique or aged wood furnishings, curved vitrines, thick-glass cabinets with hand-tooled iron pulls, plus a massive armoire standing on curled legs and sporting Gothic arches. The slightly mad and eccentric, yet visually cohesive neogothic interior and furnishings are by Moscow-based Artbureau I/1 (“one over one”) whose eight principals create both private and commercial interiors and architecture.
Podium’s Paris store is a space for one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted pieces created with rare or antique techniques by jewelry names such as Loree Rodkin whose pieces recently adorned Michelle Obama at the inauguration ball and Cher on the cover of Architectural Digest. Tuija Seipell
Paris has now joined Beijing, Beirut, Buenos Aires, Doha, Dubai, Florence, Geneva, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Macao, Madrid, Moscow, New York, Portofino, Riyadh, Shanghai and Tokyo as a location of an Officine Panerai watch boutique.
The Parisian shop opened in September in the 1st arrondissement on Rue de la Paix's jewelery row, between Place Vendôme and Opéra Garnier.
The Italian company was founded in Florence in 1860 by Giovanni Panerai. It became the official supplier of the Italian Navy and continued to build various precision instruments for the army's diving corps. Panerai remained relatively unknown in the civilian world until its bulky watches were brought to popular attention by Sylvester Stallone who wore a Panerai Luminor watch during the shooting of the movie Daylight in Rome. Stallone then ordered and signed a special batch of the watches called Slytech. He gave them to his friends, including Arnold Schwarzenegger. Stallone has since worn many Panerais, including the largest Panerai wrist watch, the limited-edition Panerai Egiziano, with a face that is 60mm in diameter.
The interior of the 41 square-meter Parisian boutique echoes Panerai's naval traditions by emphasizing precision and quality, and featuring such materials as teak and steel. - Bill Tikos
British jewelry designer Solange Azagury-Partridge’s London flagship store is now open on the luxe Bond Street. In her typical fashion, Azagury-Partridge has handled the interior and furnishing design herself.
The store has the same luscious, red-velvet jewelry box feel as her first store that opened in 1995 in Notting Hill (and moved to Westbourne Grove in 2005). The most fantastic feature of the new store is the carpet. It stands out in Azagury-Partridge’s signature style – it is almost too much, but not quite. It brings a smile to your face, makes you look again. That’s the “rock-star” quality that everyone mentions about her work.
The first floor of the two-storey boutique offers an impressive meeting of theatrical and whimsical. Absolutely everything has been choreographed and specially made for the space. Downstairs is a private-member-style, discreet enclave of hidden doors, alcoves and padded walls. The ceiling is adorned with 600,000 Swarovski crystals.
When Azagury-Partridge launched her own jewelry line in 1990, she was completely self-taught. The first piece she had ever designed was her own engagement ring only three years earlier. She has been quoted as saying that “The advantages of being self-taught are that I have no preconceptions or received opinions about the rules of jewellery. Being an outsider is my raison d’être.” - Tuija Seipell
Sports brands, even those that are not official sponsors of the World Cup soccer tournament, are taking full advantage of the global celebrations and fan enthusiasm. In New York City, Nike is making full creative use of its Nike Stadium NYC, a multi-purpose experiential environment opened at the Browery Stadium in May and designed by New York and London-based architectural firm Rafael de Cárdenas.
In Nike Stadium NYC, Cárdenas has created a soccer-inspired space that feels right in the New York environment — not glossy or overly sleek, but somewhat lived-in, hard-edged and willing to take some wear and tear. Triangular wooden blocks allow for instant creative modification of the space, as users can stack them, sit on them or create their own seating areas.
At Nike Stadium NYC, various soccer-related programs and performances in architecture, design and art are taking place all summer and into the fall. These include film screenings, match viewings and other events, all focused on exploring creative expression of soccer.
Nike Stadiums are the brand’s multi-purpose event spaces that have so far opened in Berlin, London, Milan, New York, Paris and Tokyo.
Nike Stadiums continue to reinforce Nike’s reputation as a creative supporter of soccer — something that their 2007 Cannes Lion-winning Stadium shoe box represented well. A limited number of shoe boxes were transformed to resemble a stadium with an image of a stadium and an embedded sound chip. When you opened your shoe box, you saw a miniature stadium and heard the crowd cheering, and you could imagine yourself inside a stadium cheering along or, better yet, playing on the field wearing your new Nikes. - Tuija Seipell
The first OHWOW Book Club has opened its doors in a tiny 150 square-foot space in New York’s Greenwich Village. The retail space is located below street level in a historic brownstone on Waverly Place.
The black-and-white tiled floor and the turquoise walls create a decidedly aquatic mood although the designer, Rafael de Cárdenas, was thinking less of marine habitats and more of a classic pre-war NYC water closet when he themed the space.
Experience designer/architect Rafael de Cárdenas of Architecture At Large is a master of creating moods. In OHWOW Book Club, he has explored not only the sensations of disorientation and floating through neon lighting and random wall color patterns and placement of shelves, but also the feel of direction through the Navajo carpet-like tile pattern of the floor.
All of these themes are evident also in OHWOW’s Miami exhibition space at NW 7 Avenue, that de Cárdenas designed in 2008 and to which the Miami Art Basel crowd took right away.
OHWOW (Our House West of Wynwood) is a collaborative creative enterprise conceived by New York’s event impresario Aaron Bondaroff and Miami art and publishing powerhouse Al Moran. - Tuija Seipell
We are seeing more and more stores and services dedicated solely to the fine things in life for men. Salons, shops and spas are realizing that men have been treated like second-class citizens when it comes to luxurious, beautiful retail environments.
There are millions of sports bars, car dealerships, gyms and hardware stores, but that is definitely not all that men need and want. At New York Fashion Week, British luxury men’s brand Alfred Dunhill showcased its Winter 2010 collection in a vacant Meatpacking District warehouse transformed into a pop-up shop.
With aluminum panels and projection technology, London-based design workshop Campaign created an environment that brought a little bit of Dunhill’s London flagship store to New York.
Alfred Dunhill, who joined his father’s saddlery business in 1887, and planned to change the company’s focus toward the pioneering motorist, said it very well: “It is not enough to expect a man to pay for the best, you must also give him what he has paid for...” We think men are ready to pay for the best -- and “the best” includes the environment in which he spends his money. - Tuija Seipell
As we have seen in various posts here on The Cool Hunter, footwear has become a genre of art all of its own.
Much like how the simple need for shelter has crescendoed into superfluous McMansions, the shoe started out as a humble necessity: to keep the toes out of harm's way. Currently - as anyone who's purchased a pair of platform sneakers or sky-high stilettos can attest - a need for beauty and style has far overshadowed the trivial want for comfort.
Oscar Wilde once professed, "One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art". The financially fortunate seem to agree, with well-manicured feet peeking from artistic footwear worth their weight in rubies and diamonds. Cobbler extraordinaire Stuart Weitzman took this tendency to an unprecedented pinnacle with the unveiling of his "Cinderella Slippers" which were worn by singer Alison Krauss at the 2004 Oscars ceremony and priced at $2M.
Thankfully, enjoying the art of footwear is not limited to those of stratospheric bank accounts. The need for fashionable shoe has crossed all social boundaries. From retro-style sneakers to high-end designer fashion heels, shoes are a major part of the international fashion market, and shoe sales are a serious indicator of status and sub-culture.
Naturally, the shoe store has evolved, side-by-side, into an equally stylish hub of modern fashion. No matter if you're talking about a pair Jimmy Choo wedges (a must on the streets of Manhattan) or a rare collectable pair of original 1972 Adidas sneakers — there is a carefully manicured storeroom and market-analyzed price tag for each.
So what's your favorite shoe store?
We want to see stores that feature the most original display and merchandising techniques out there.
From sneaker shops to high-end department stores to exclusive boutiques, if you know of a great candidate then send us an e-mail.
A fantastic array of imaginary projects keeps materializing from the hands and mind of the talented Jaime Hayón. The Madrid, Spain-born designer’s work covers practical — and impractical — objects, sets, stores, art and graphics. In addition to retail and restaurant environments, he has created furniture for Pallucco, shoes and sets for Camper, designer toys, various kinds of art, and exhibitions including “Mediterranean Digital Baroque” at London’s David Gill Gallery, and “Mon Cirque,” presented in Frankfurt, Barcelona, Paris and Kuala Lumpur.
A retro film-star sensibility joins a more ornate and traditional luxury vibe in the Octium boutique, for which nearly everything was custom-designed — from the furnishings, textiles and display elements to the lighting fixtures and wall treatments. And although within this fantasy world, each selection of jewelry has its own unique display environment, the overall atmosphere manages to seem calm and the look harmonious. The jewelry on display includes the Octium Collection, exclusive pieces, as well as selections from Hanna Martin, Ivanka Trump and Pipa Small and others. - Tuija Seipell