Stairways to retail heaven: the best treads in-store

Dolce & Gabbana staircase by Gwenael Nicolas

Gwenael Nicolas-designed staircase for Dolce & Gabbana’s Old Bond Street boutique

Dolce & Gabbana swept up the award for Best Ascent in the 2018 Wallpaper* Design Awards with a pair of spiral staircases in its Old Bond street boutique in London, by Gwenael Nicolas. The first connects the boutique’s sprawling six floors. Handrails and sides are constructed from Nero Marquina marble, and the steps appear to form a delicate lace ribbon in a combination of monochrome Bianco Laser and Nero Marquina marble.

Photography: Hélène Binet

dolce and gabbana staircase in Old Bond street store

Gwenael Nicolas-designed staircase for Dolce & Gabbana’s Old Bond Street boutique

The second of the Dolce & Gabbana staircases connects the top three floors of the brand’s private salon space, constructed from a monochrome patchwork of the marble and granite found throughout the boutique (Black Lightning; Nordic White; Copacabana; Nero Grand Baroque; and Panda White). The staircase is designed to look identical when viewed from above or below.

Photography: Hélène Binet

Louis Vuitton’s Peter Marino-designed Place Vendôme store

Louis Vuitton’s Peter Marino-designed Place Vendôme store

Peter Marino’s occupation of Place Vendôme has lead to some incredible interior architecture over the years. A particular highlight is the Louis Vuitton store, which features a staircase carved from 18th-century stone, complete with sleek glass balustrades, suspended by stainless steel cables. Additionally, it is lined with stacks of colourful spherical sculptures by Annie Morris.

Photography: Stéphane Muratet. © Louis Vuitton

Bottega Veneta’s Manhattan boutique

Bottega Veneta’s Manhattan boutique

Bottega Veneta’s latest flagship boutique in Manhattan is a five-story, 15,000 sq ft space that combines womenswear, menswear, accessories, watches, jewellery, fragrance, eyewear and homeware. Creative director Tomas Maier conceived the store’s design, looking to the city skyline for inspiration. An undulating glass staircase runs through the boutique, drawing in tones of grey, washed green and beige.

Fendi’s Sloane Street boutique, by Dimore Studio

Fendi’s Sloane Street boutique, by Dimore Studio

Dimore Studio decked out Fendi’s Sloane Street outlet in a late 1960s and 70s aesthetic, creating a truly retro mood with velvet and mohair-lined walls, plush amber carpets and shimmering surfaces. The stores’s staircase connects the two floors, featuring bannisters lined with wedge-shaped panels made from various metals.

Thom Browne’s office-inspired London store

Thom Browne’s office-inspired London store

Thom Browne’s second freestanding European store arrived on London’s Albemarle Street in 2017, designed by longtime friend and architect Flavio Albanese. Drawing on the mid-century office-inspired style that’s become synonymous with Thom Browne stores, Albanese used a combination of Venetian slat blinds for the windows, rows of fluorescent tube lights on the ceilings and a refined palette of grey, black and white. A floating staircase connects the two floors, finished in a clean white. 

Dolce & Gabbana’s Palazzo Torres store

Dolce & Gabbana’s Palazzo Torres store

Eric Carlson’s Palazzo Torres store for Dolce & Gabbana marked a new entry onto the brand’s roster of unique, individually designed outlets. The boutique reflects the house’s multifaceted aesthetic, blending Sicilian baroque with flourishes of humour, cartoonish prints and sensual silhouettes. The entrance celebrates Venetian mercantile craftsmanship, paved in multi-coloured inlays of ancient marble, with walls adorned with wooden bas-reliefs depicting scenes of the city’s artisanal and commercial life during the late 19th century. A staircase of Venetian marble leads to formal and evening wear selections on the first floor. 

Philipp Plein's London flagship by Claudio Pironi

Philipp Plein’s gleaming Claudio Pironi-designed London flagship

December 2016 marked Philipp Plein’s UK debut with his first boutique on New Bond Street. Italian architect Claudio Pirono designed the limited 420 sq m space, which features black and white marble, glass and stainless steel. A hexagonal marble staircase (the shape being a Plein motif across his works) features cantilevered landings, impressively fitting into the space.

Photography: Christoffer Rudquist

Hermès London store

Hermès’ London store, by RDAI Architecture

Longtime Hermès collaborators RDAI Architecture realised its 2017 Sloane Street addition, an immactulately presented outpost awash in soft curves and warm metals. RDAI has created over 300 stores for Hermès over their 30-year relationship, imbuing each outpost with its own unique features and architectural elements. The RDAI team moved the existing oak wood staircase so that it faced the window, leading guests upward through the space with the aid of a handrail wrapped in Hermès Etoupe leather.

Photography: Andrew Meredith

Connolly Mayfair store designed by Gilles & Boissier

Connolly’s classical-contemporary design fusion in its Mayfair home

French architects Gilles & Boissier are renowned for their fusion of divergent elements, having produced interiors which are harmonious blends of the modern and classical, minimal and ornamental. British brand Connolly, originally founded in 1878, reopened its doors in a Georgian townhouse dating from 1719, designed by architect John Witt and one of the oldest to be found in Mayfair. Gilles & Boissier brought out the elegant beauty and home comforts of the townhouse with hand-crafted fixtures, featuring smooth wood pannelling, marble desk slabs and hornbeam cabinets. A winding, dark wood staircase wraps through the store’s levels.

Paola Navone-designed Joyce boutique in Hong Kong

Paola Navone breathes new life into Hong Kong boutique Joyce

Chinese luxury retailer Joyce turned to Italian architect Paola Navone for the refurbishment of its Central branch in Hong Kong. Navone was spurred by the thought of transforming a familiar space, a point of reference, with a strong identity. Using her signature Tham ma da (Thai for ‘everyday’) technique, Navone connects the four floors using ordinary elements taken from the everyday, and elevating them to points of interest. A staircase featuring imperfectly hand-painted polka dot walls leads to a mezzanine exhibition space.

Repossi’s OMA-designed Place Vendôme store

Repossi’s OMA-designed Place Vendôme store

A retail store like no other, jewellery maison Repossi’s Place Vendôme outlet, designed by OMA, combines linear display cases cut from reflective, rotating slats, salt and papper terrazzo floors (a mix of foaming aluminium and resin) and industrial metal. The store palette was designed by Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli, producing a brutalist, masculine identity that creates an androgynous space, very well reflected in the bold staircase connecting the three floors. Photography: Cyrille Weiner

Barneys flagship store in downtown Manhattan

Barneys flagship store in downtown Manhattan

Barneys returned to New York in 2016 with a downtown flagship on 7th Avenue, the very Chelsea block where the company started in 1923. Local architecture firm Steven Harris Architects oversaw the design, producing a subtly luxurious space featuring mirrored vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines making up the abstract design of the atrium. A flowing white spiral staircase acts as the store centrepiece, connecting the foundation level to the third floor.

Photography: Scott Frances

ETQ’s multi-brand store in Amsterdam

ETQ’s multi-brand store in Amsterdam

ETQ’s two-storey flagship in Amsterdam is minimal and essential, a simple brick and mortar affair. Designed by Jos Van Dijk, the interior architect converted the 3,450 sq ft space from a former classic menswear store into an engaging stage with a ‘Barragán’-esque appeal, featuring very little product per square metre. A heavy concrete design creates a very tempting appeal for the staircase, which pulls visitors down towards the basement level.

Photography: Katrien Franken

Krizia's Vincenzo De Cotiis-designed store

Krizia joins forces with Vincenzo De Cotiis for a stark store blueprint

Italian brand Krizia opened a slick shop along Milan’s Via della Spiga as part of a rebranding scheme, redesigned by Vincenzo De Cotiis. Distilled down to hard lines and pure geometry in a lofty, clean box, the space evokes an art gallery, featuring fibreglass shells repurposed from old ships, contrasting sleek onyx and reflective mirroring on warm, glowing walls. A staircase crafted from burnished steel and coloured glass brings customers from the ground floor to a sub-level, where an expanded offering of ready-to-wear and accessories can be found.

Vincent van Duysen's Alexander Wang London store

Vincent van Duysen transforms former post office into Alexander Wang’s London flagship

Belgian architect Vincent van Duysen transformed a former Post Office on Mayfair’s Albemarle Street into a freestanding flagship store for Alexander Wang. Natural stone and Travertine is incorporated into the design with distressed chrome, recycled rubber and industrial metal plate. The positioning of the staircase was a difficult decision, made a centrepiece with its sculptural dark grey concrete steps encased in black leather, with an embossed stingray leather handrail.

Marni’s Montenapoleone Milan store

Marni’s Montenapoleone Milan store

Marni’s Milanese boutique architecturally mirrors its quirky, feminine identity by adopting a sober structure with eccentric accents. The store is infued with a dramatically austere yet whimsically playful charm, featuring a minimal spiral staircase with immaculate white walls interjected with coloured marble.

Kenzo's Milan store designed by its in-house team

Kenzo’s talented in-house design team-revamped Milan store

Kenzo’s Milan store is a prime example of good design and practical functionality possessed by a talented in-house team. The 246 sq m space features different coloured zones (blues for boys and pinks and peaches for girls) with an ongoing marble theme, recreated on veiny carpets and tables. Most noticeably, the all-marble staircase is a compelling architectural component, that, alongside the adjoining cash/wrap desk, looks as if it was crafted from glowing blue lapis lazuli stone.

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