Peter Marino, FAIA, is the principal of Peter Marino Architect, PLLC, an internationally acclaimed architecture, planning, and design firm founded in 1978 and based in New York City with offices in Philadelphia, PA and Southampton, NY. Peter Marino’s design contributions in the areas of commercial, cultural, residential and retail architecture have helped redefine modern luxury worldwide, emphasizing materiality, texture, scale, light and the constant dialogue between interior and exterior. He is widely known for his residential and retail designs for the most iconic names in the fashion and art worlds: Giorgio Armani, Andy Warhol, Valentino, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Fendi, Ermenegildo Zegna, Donna Karan and Barneys New York. His latest work is the Louis Vuitton New Bond Street Maison.
What makes the New Bond Street Maison unique?
This New Bond Street address is one of the most luxurious shopping streets in the world – the traffic is at an incredibly high level, not just monetarily but in terms of style, taste, and people. It’s, dare I say, the most sophisticated place for shoppers. The New Bond Street Maison is, for me, going to be the most luxurious Louis Vuitton Maison in the world. To achieve this, we had to take a lot of space, a lot of light, and a lot of materials. What we are looking for in London is a more modern shopping experience that remains at a high luxury level. The whole concept of London – which is important to understand for people, is that we call it the Louis Vuitton Maison: ‘The House of Vuitton’. I would like to make the visitors feel at home. When you come in, there’s a beautiful entrance, part of the home is to relax, part of the home is more formal, and maybe part of the home is where you take off your clothes.
What were the challenges for the New Bond Street Maison?
There were several. One was joining two buildings, with concrete floors at different levels, to make a unified whole. Another was the historic façade, which we were not allowed to alter, but I wanted a totally contemporary interior. So we built a “skin” structure inside to separate the store from the façade. You enter from the street and cross the gap over a bridge, which is symbolic of entering the Louis Vuitton world. I was also desperate to get light into the first-floor Librairie area at the back, which is why we came up with the vaulted skylight, which is great for reading.
What are your favourite elements about the New Bond Street Maison?
My favourite elements are some of the touches which represent the Louis Vuitton ethos but also add fun to the shopping experience. There’s the glass staircase running right across the front of the store between the façade and the interior skin – it’s a work of art with LCD image generation and ever-changing artists’ work. The ten-meter high trunk wall at the entrance was inspired by those wonderful lost luggage areas in old-fashioned stations where cases pile up – they’re always tatty but we’ve done it in a good way with wood and brass. It was great having the height and space to do it. The Bag Bar is just fun. Some shops are just lethally serious but we want people to smile. I think its fun when things are not static so the bags move to a rhythm. And the Murakami sculpture and the circling planets – they just make you laugh.
Image via Steve Benisty