Retail – In the digital era, even the most iconic retail groups must offer more than exquisite shopping experiences. That’s why French department store Galeries Lafayette has commissioned BIG to architect the interiors of a new hybrid retail model which features boutiques of world’s leading and emerging fashion, food and lifestyle brands while also hosting fashion shows and special events.
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The new 6,800 sqm and four-story concept store is located within a 1932 Art Deco building on the iconic Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris. “Our design pays tribute to the tactility and texture of the historical building,” explains BIG’s founder Bjarke Ingels.
Galerie Lafayette’s new ‘retail laboratory’ was conceived as an urban plaza for the Parisians. “We humans are social beings and more than ever do we need a forum for collective intimacy, where we can’t just get what we want by clicking on it, but where we can engage with others in urban environments that are visually and physically stimulating to all the senses.”
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Shoppers are invited into the building through an inverse canopy on the street level. A glowing bridge ushers life into the heart of the building: “a dramatic circular atrium covered by a monumental glass cupola that has been restored and uncovered for maximum daylight.”
The entire store unfolds itself on the ground floor and creates “a bright new urban living room for brand activations, fashion shows and other special events”. A grand staircase, which doubles as an auditorium during events, takes visitors to the mixed-use space on the first floor which features creative and emerging brands, as well as a denim lab, jewelry display, limited edition sneakers and tech products.
A continuous golden ring of perforated metal wraps around all of the columns and creates a series of rooms and alcoves facing the atrium. From the ground floor, visitors are immediately able to see the upper levels. The escalators are finished in warm metal and a ribbon of glass in the same material palette as the central atrium.
“Exploring the store and its different levels feels like a carefully curated environment where furniture is never only storage: interweaving carpets become dressing rooms, countertops are a sculptural stack of elements, magic carpets for the shoe display double as furniture for the shoppers to sit and try the footwear”.
The upper levels of the store are more refined and continue the idea of furniture as artifact. The top floor features a series of suspended glass vitrines that look like independent objects and can host a variety of experiences and activities visible from the lower levels.
On the second floor, shoppers can dine in the Oursin restaurant while enjoying views of the city or relax at the Citron coffee lounge on the 1st floor, both designed by French fashion designer Simon Porte Jacquemus and operated by Caviar Kaspia.
The entire basement floor is a Parisian food court, where groceries and eateries are divided into sweet and savory sections and where massive counters are arranged around welcoming shared tables.
All photos: courtesy of BIG.