A Hanging Balance Between Fashion and Architecture
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A Hanging Balance Between Fashion and Architecture

Akris Boutique

David Chipperfield Architects Milan

A Hanging Balance Between Fashion and Architecture
By Editorial Staff -
Grassi Pietre has participated in the project

Embroidery, lace, fine fabrics and sartorial craftsmanship have defined the history of the Swiss city of St. Gallen, attracting enthusiasts and industry players from all over the world. The sartorial tradition of this city can be explored in its textile museum containing over 30,000 objects, in its library, and in its many fashion houses. It was here in 1922 that Alice Kriemler-Schoch founded Akris, using her vision and will to transform the brand into an international point of reference in the world of high fashion for its care and attention towards elegant threads, local craftsmanship and quality of raw materials. The new Akris concept store in Washington D.C. reinterprets and centers these same values. Designed by the studio David Chipperfield Architects, this store-art gallery highlights the materials of both the clothing and the architecture: the fabrics, horsehair, felt, maple wood and stone are the true protagonists. 

Boutique Akris | © Alberto Parise, courtesy David Chipperfield Architects Autenticità, semplicità e precisione – valori fondanti della casa di moda Akris – sono stati assunti dai progettisti e tradotti nei tasselli di base del concept. Il risultato è uno spazio espositivo elegante e raffinato.

Horsehair is an integral part of the story of Akris. A material with surprising qualities, its color is enhanced over time as it expresses its peculiarities. Rare and occasionally difficult to work with, horsehair gives life to unique embroidery and motifs. At the Akris store, the ivory-colored dressing room walls and ceilings are covered with horsehair fabric, alternating with mélange gray felt. The wool carpets are also ivory-colored. 

The design concept is not only inspired by the sartorial tradition of Akris, but also by the work of Bruno Munari, who studied the contrast between the opposing forces of tension and compression through his tensile spatial structures. Munari’s original tenso-structures used thin branches and wood, and this minimalism is present in the suspension displays of the concept store. Simple shelves and hangers are suspended by cables, such that the clothes and accessories in the boutique seem to float inside an architectural box with gray limestone flooring and white-painted maple panels. This neutral backdrop highlights the collection.

Boutique Akris | © Alberto Parise, courtesy David Chipperfield Architects I capi sembrano fluttuare all’interno di un ambiente di pietra calcarea e legno: questo effetto è reso possibile dall’uso di elementi espositivi leggeri e con un minimo ingombro. Mensole e appendiabiti, per esempio, sono sostenuti da cavi quasi invisibili.

Stainless-steel mesh partitions hang from the ceiling, enhancing the functionality of the space and creating an effect of transparency that accents the depth of the environment. Anodized aluminum and glass display tables contribute to a sensation of continuity and fluidity in the atelier. This collaboration between David Chipperfield Architects and the brothers Albert and Peter Kriemler – respectively Creative Director and CEO of Akris – is a tribute to both the high craftsmanship of the collections of the Swiss fashion house and the sophisticated simplicity that unifies the works of Bruno Munari. 

Location: Washington D.C., USA
Client: Akris Prêt-à-Porter
Completion: 2022
Gross Floor Area: 214 m2
Interior Design: David Chipperfield Architects Milan
Local Architect: Leo A Daly
Main Contractor: Rand* Construction
Millwork Contractor: Schreinerei Welz

Structures: Rathgeber/Goss Associates
Lighting: Mario Nanni
MEP: Interface Engineering

Photography: Alberto Parise, courtesy of David Chipperfield Architects 

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