Monday 1 May 2017

Concrete & Shopping

During my trip to Rome last year I made a point of visiting Valentino's new flagship store in the historic Piazza di Spagna. It was not for the textiles it contained but for the tectonic quality of the space. This haute couture building which officially in July 2015 was designed by David Chipperfield Architects in conjunction with Valentino's creative directors Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli is Valentino's largest store yet at 1,470 (1,865 including basement) square metres providing a whole new boutique experience. Upon entering the shopper is greeted by extremely sculptural marble columns and altar-like display tables defining the entrance. The massive 6-metre atrium and two marble staircases reinforce the feeling that one is in a monumental space. 

I couldn't of had less interest in the clothes and the sales assistants could sense this, telling me to make sure I saw the staircases. They must have been used to people coming in with their gaze skirting beyond the clothes and mannequins. The marble staircases are so beautiful, almost as if they rose up from the earth. Every sleek surface beckons you to touch it. The grey Venetian terrazzo with Carrara chippings oozes luxury with simple black leather armchairs and timber tables complementing the cool oyster and pearl tones of the walls and floors. The palette of colours is completed with suspended oak shelving and brass fixtures for the full length mirrors and rails. This wall treatment stops at door height with uplighting to soften the lines. Internal doors have a sculptural quality with flush pull handles. This store is the perfect stage to make the clothes sing. A new attraction for this ancient city. 

All images taken by author