Gucci’s new Milan store a living art installation

Written by Staff Writer, CNN

What does the House of Gucci wear? From camo jumpsuits to leather furs, the house has long had a penchant for utilitarian chic, but on a more avant-garde level. It also has a knack for playful experimentation, much of which continues on its flashy Milanese store. The only problem is that the whole look-at-us attitude doesn’t make for an appropriate building theme.

The Gucci flagship designed by Bjarke Ingels — which includes so-called “room” sections such as the one on left — stands where a fine neoclassical building once stood. It resembles a small structure in the middle of a vast pool, capped by a swirl of rounded decorative walls. But that swimming pool has been emptied of its aquatic life. Instead of water, you see shelves of bedding and potted plants.

Bjarke Ingels Architects on 2016’s “House of Gucci” Credit: Courtesy of Bjarke Ingels Architects

Where by normal design standards, it’s ideal space for a menswear boutique, the space has been reduced to a series of rectangles to emphasize the house’s large collection of antiques and designer apparel. First seen in 2015 as a concept for the interior, the “house” recently opened to the public during Milan Design Week, an occasion to celebrate both the design of the interior and the house’s overall aesthetics.

Like any fine house, the Home of Gucci has its own clubhouse of exquisite antiques. But instead of stalwart and used furniture — such as upholstered seats and armchairs — here some of the items were purchased at auctions, repurposed in new ways and, in some cases, printed or replicated. This, Ingels said in a presentation, is a fundamental characteristic of the Gucci aesthetic — “making our objects highly conceptual and obviously useless” — and naturally the store with its angular shapes and minimalist potted plant displays fits right in.

Some furniture — like this Amarsig table from Japan — is digitally recreated. Credit: Courtesy of Bjarke Ingels Architects

Some pieces, like the Tanji console from 1710, have even been digitally reconstructed. Others, such as Bauhaus cotton sculpture, have been kept in their original locations but captured digitally in post-production. Other reproductions bring the pieces to life through some fancy graphics.

One instance of this is the Bauhaus monitor, which appears in many iterations from which visitors can manipulate the fabric in different combinations. Another? The Marra machine, a pencil sharpener that looks more than a little like a MacBook Pro.

A “street taxi” in Bauhaus cotton sculpture Credit: Courtesy of Bjarke Ingels Architects

With the interior addition’s elements being either digital, digitally “manufactured” or fabricated for historical clients, the design philosophy at the store seems light-years removed from Gucci’s hand-crafted clothing. One of the house’s most famous pieces, the Sartorial Red flag, also appears in this installment, and is shown reclining on a multilevel stool. In comparison to the decor, the Fashion of Gucci brand seems as far removed from the store as from Gucci itself.

A fire truck in Bauhaus cotton sculpture Credit: Courtesy of Bjarke Ingels Architects

But the design isn’t alone in giving the store a stark, monochromatic color palette. Many of the words that appear on the store’s walls are starkly black. The most controversial being a wall with the words “House of Gucci & Bjarke Ingels Architects.”

Leave a Comment