The Victorian-style building on Madison Avenue, was originally designed as a single-family home,and subsequently adapted to commercial use.
The building was renovated in 1994 by Duccio Grassi Architects by lowering the level of the front of 1st and 2nd floor, which were found to have steps inside them.
At the same time the entrance to the upper floors was moved to the side of the 68th street with a neoclassical insertion.
The renovation maintained the existing levels of the plans, but completely redesigned the facade on Madison Avenue and restored that on the 68th street.
A jury, led by I.M.Pei, recognized the effort by awarding the project “Best Renovation of the Year” for Manhattan's Upper east Side.
With the present project of Duccio Grassi Architects, the elevations and steps in the floors have been eliminated.
The restored facade is in harmony with the neighborhood and accentuates the store's two storefronts.
For the 2017 renovation an emphasis is placed on the building’s historical aspects as the original walls, bricks and windows are no longer convered or obscured.
The store represents a unique design, and it maintains the clean and elegant lines and the refined finishes of the brand.
While accomodating a contemporary design approach suitable for a luxury experience, Duccio Grassi Architects brings an understanding of historically influenced materials and applications to the design process.
The customer first of all enters inside a world in which there is no separation between fashion and design.
The design of the space follows the values of the brand: simple and contemporary shapes, precious materials (even with strong oppositions), memory citations and impeccable finishes.
Our anti-decorative research starts from elementary considerations on materials hence on surfaces and on the interaction of the light with these surfaces.
While welcoming a contemporary design approach suitable for a luxury retail experience, Duccio Grassi Architects inserts in the design process the will to show materials and applications conditioned by their historicity.
One of the main intentions was to tackle the renovation and design from the point of view of the perspective of a boutique inside a single-family residential home, to the point that the interventions within the building represent those that could be put in place from a young couple who moved to an old inherited family home.
Light during the day penetrates the space from the many windows of the building, but it
is emphasized by a diffused chandelier in tubular brass, designed specifically by architect Grassi for the Max Mara flagship stores.
Original bricks in white alternated with brass panels create a luminous and less classic contrast.
At the entrance the floor is "ceppo" stone, the same opulent material used in Milanese palaces facades.
Oak and grey pearl marble in geometric patterns cover the remaining floors reproducing, on the floor, the geometries of the rooms of the initial (primitive) residential destination.
On the wall the plaster, a bit rough, alternates with stone and brass, which, treated with a particular technique from Tuscan craftsmen, will be compared, on large slabs, with the original bricks of the building.
For example, the corridor leading to the elevator for customers is sculpted and enriched by handcrafted brass surfaces.
On the first floor, instead, the Giallo Siena marble, the Ceppo di Grè stone and the Hungarian herringbone oak floor act as a curtain and define the windows.
The hanging structures, with a linear design, are made of wood or natural iron with bases in brass lingots.
There are also tables of Rovere Fumé and accents of Giallo Siena marble on the walls.
On the third floor a contemporary boiserie develops at full height: lacquered panels subdivided by brass accents create an intentionally tactile surface.
This peculiar coating created singularly for this location becomes a center of visual interest, also by means of the contrast with the opposite wall which is covered with Pietra Ceppo di Grè, also present here on the floor.
The most exclusive area of the store is hidden by a colored sliding glass door, which can remain open or closed depending on the sales needs of the moment.
In the VIP room, Pearl Gray marble compares to a Hungarian-herringbone oak-wood floor, while brass details frame walls covered in felt with a particular design;
they create a three-dimensional articulated surface and an intimate and welcoming atmosphere.
The design of this space is intended to embody the essence of the tradition of craftsmanship and the contemporary spirit of the brand that is made by the spokesman.
Light deserves a separate talk, being an indispensable and "constituent" element of architecture. Artificial light will come from a "diffused chandelier" in tubular brass, designed specifically by Duccio Grassi Architects for Max Mara's flagship stores.
Great attention has been paid to facilitating the path inside the store, visibility of clothing and customer comfort, both in the size of the cabins and in providing privacy areas with privacy.
The project seeks to dialogue with volumes and stratified forms over time, asking for an environment that has its own history and identity to accommodate unexpected forms and materials for a confrontation with modernity.
It marks a new era for the company and it is expression of the brand retail. It represents an important achievement blending the need of creativity, architecture and experience.
The focus is not only on design and architecture, but also on flexible features, special collections or projects.
Customers can browse around on their own in a welcoming space and, for example, the knitwear is displayed in a way in which is allowed to be seen right away. Spaces for cashier has been minimized and simultaneously the digital interaction possibilities has been increased: digital platforms integration and screens projecting stories are some examples.
Duccio Grassi inherits the approach to interior design from a family background rich in artistic stimuli, defining a rigorous and emotional style, with particular attention to volumes and materials. Since the 80s Duccio Grassi works with the Max Mara group, contributing to the definition and the innovation of retail design, with buildings in the main world capitals, as well as stores and innovative concepts for the various brands of the group, for which it still develops concepts and designs in the most prestigious locations. Duccio Grassi has developed projects for buildings, stores and showrooms for various international brands. Recently, DGA has created the new world store concept for Ray-Ban by Luxottica, as well as concepts in China, Russia, and Thailand. The vocation in the retail field over the years comes up with projects of shopping malls and headquarters in the Middle East and other parts of the world, while currently it is also developing luxury villas and exclusive hotels.
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