Timeless Style: Retail Architecture

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The architecture and design of retail space has never had the press and commentary commensurate with its role. Rent alone (not including design and refurbishment costs) can be 30% of sales (or over 100%) – higher than the cost of goods sold, underscoring its importance establishing the brand image. BoF has a long piece on Joseph Dirand, the designer of spaces for Givenchy and Alexander Wang. In it, he describes his process (lots of images), his style (stark minimalism), and working with clients (each one is different), all of what seem to be a very lucrative and fulfilling profession.

It is then a bit of a wonder why retail architecture is not taken more seriously in the architecture academies. For the profession, the museum holds the top spot for most desired projects. But are they so different? Art on walls, fashion on racks, both framing the visual experience for the consumer. Warhol noticed it. Maybe architects are too cynical and anti-consumerist to consider retail architecture. Maybe it’s the impermanence of fashion so incongruous to the timeless ideals of architecture. But, Prada just renewed the lease for their Koolhaas-designed Soho store. Call it a 10 year lease? That will be at least 22 years, about as permanent as you can get these days –  almost double the MoMA Folk Art Museum!


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