Around the globe, brand boutiques are getting serious upgrades. Now, a luxury label is as much defined by its home as it is by the products inside it. Which is where multitalented architecture studios like Carbondale come in. This award-winning agency provides exceptional solutions for some of the world’s biggest brands, across many sectors, from fashion to motoring and beyond. Private residences also feature on its client list, with projects across Asia and Europe, and further afield.
Founder of the firm Eric Carlson is quick to tell us, “Luxury customised architecture is not just for luxury brands,” sharing his belief that first-class project personalisation is available to anyone with passion and the vision for potential. Here, he selects his top three flagship fashion stores from the Carbondale library of clients, all of which showcase extraordinary use of materials, space and technical expertise, working around a number of unique challenges and briefs that push the boundaries of architectural design.
Dolce & Gabbana: Venice, Italy
Our design masterfully unites and expresses the depth, diversity and richness shared by both the Venetian and Dolce & Gabbana cultures by unveiling historical treasures and exemplary contemporary design. The 800-square-metre store was selected as a pinnacle of Venetian culture. For a brand defined by contrasts, the interior design explores and accentuates the contrasts between the historical and the “contemporary” with a spatial design inspired by the Italian palazzo model (with its distinctive rooms each with characteristically different colours and finishes). The modern interior design pays homage to traditional Italian and Venetian artisans by working with centuries-old family companies to craft spaces and furniture in marble, stone and glass mosaic, inlayed wood marquetry, woven silk damask fabrics and hand-blown Murano glass.
Longchamp: Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
We were commissioned to design the 400-square-metre, three-level store and facade for the Longchamp Maison on Canton road in Tsim Sha Tsui. Canton Road is lined with numerous multi-level luxury brand stores and their billboard-like architectural facades. Because the street-front facades are difficult to see from the sidewalks (and therefore by the multitude of pedestrian shoppers), the Longchamp design – inspired by the famous Pliage bag – is vertically folded in a series of glass bands reorienting the facade’s face laterally towards the pedestrians on both sides of the road. Within the seven-metre-high zig-zag glass panels are delicate gold filaments placed in the brand’s signature “LM” criss-cross pattern to create a striking interweave of natural and artificial light.
Louis Vuitton: Paris, France
The most visited, the most famous, and the most successful luxury brand store in the world was designed inside and out by our team. The prominence of the project originates from the radical concept of demolishing all of the existing interior floor slabs and then wrapping the Champs Élysées shopping avenue inside the building by reconstructing a continuous four-level spiral of shopping terraces. Visitors never need to walk up or down traditional stairways and are in constant contact with the products and views of Paris. A store with an overall area of 1,800 square metres is transformed into a sequence of intimate boutique-scale terraces, each with its own product type, that captures the character of the Champs Élysées as a promenade and generates a “travel experience” for a brand that is historically rooted in Le Voyage.