“Uncompromising” is apt – this is what the new Jacquemus boutiques in Paris and London look like. In the flagship store of the London luxury department store Selfridges you find yourself inside a clay pot, with curves and long edges: the curved walls have been covered with clay. A large window offers a view of the street. The Jacquemus handbags in different colors with strengthened handles look museum-like here.
Not so in the Galeries Lafayette Haussmann in Paris. There, the Jacquemus boutique seems inspired by the world of healthy sleep. The inside of the shop is cloud white, everything is made of linen cushions: the walls, the shelves, the benches, the cash desk, the changing rooms. Only the floor, says architect Ellen van Loon, her team couldn’t design with cushions. “For women with high heels, that would have been a problem.”
Ellen van Loon is a partner at Dutch architects OMA. She realized the project together with the associated design agency AMO and the architect Giulio Margheri. Both are connected to the conversation from London. How do you approach the design of the sales areas of a luxury label? “With a research phase,” says Margheri. It quickly became clear to them that they wanted to deal with the south of France, the origin of founder Simon Porte Jacquemus. So the team used books, photos, films. In a newspaper article, the brand was described as “Provençal pop”, says Margheri, “we found that an interesting break”.
Among other things, Van Loon was jointly responsible for the design of the Tiffany & Co. pop-up store that opened this year in Paris, but also for the architecture of the National Library in Qatar, the Dutch embassy in Berlin and for various buildings in Rotterdam. It’s always about creating something special: “In the case of Jacquemus, we tried to capture the mood of Provence.”
For this, van Loon and Margheri threw their usual approach overboard. First, they determined the dominant material for each boutique, and based on that, they designed the rooms – not the other way around. “Each material forces you to certain forms,” says van Loon. Making curtains and shelves out of cushions inevitably brings about new designs that hadn’t been thought of before. “The approach gave us the ability to make each store look unique.” They would have wanted the boutiques to look less like retail spaces.
The cushion landscapes in the Paris store are reminiscent of a bed, while in London there are terracotta-colored chairs and tables in the room. “We tried to create a place where you want to stay,” says van Loon. “Like a living room.” She doesn’t believe that shops that can be experienced in analogue form are going completely out of fashion in view of the increase in online trade. “People want to go out and have an experience, not just go shopping.” In Margheri’s words, a store must “serve as a platform, in collaboration with the Internet”. For example, if you can have things delivered to the shops.
Nothing is missing from the design result of the two boutiques, which have been open since July. “We’re rather surprised when customers get involved with our ideas,” says van Loon. The radical use of materials also maximizes the feeling these materials evoke – different in every store. In the pillow boutique, natural light was deliberately avoided in the store in order to convey a warm, cozy feeling. The only restriction there, the floor, is now carpeted, says Margheri. “Maybe we can try the cushions next time,” says Ellen van Loon. “Then people have to take off their shoes before going into the store.”