The Look Of Luxury
Sheila Kim-Jamet -- Interior Design, 5/1/2006 12:00:00 AM
Giving artful face-lifts to high-end retail stores is the specialty of Canadian firm Burdifilek. For the women's footwear and designer-clothing departments at the Brown Thomas flagship in Dublin, creative partner Diego Burdi and managing partner Paul Filek had to contend with an early 1800's structure consisting of 11 adjoining buildings with column grids that weren't uniform. Their redesign of the store's second floor is now a seamless 27,000-square-foot whole in a subtly luxurious materials palette of zebrawood, oak, limestone, and suede. Custom clean-lined furniture, wool carpet, and sculptural screens of steel and acrylic round out the mix, as Burdi explains.
What directives did you receive?
The client requested a contemporary language that was distinctly Irish. So we translated the country's landscape into our materials palette, focusing on natural colors and textures.
What are the special concerns for retail design?
World-class luxury retail environments need a setting that does justice to the forms and materials of the fashion and accessories on display. Our theatrical elements, like arc seating, allow the upscale product to present itself.
What challenges did you encounter?
The store is composed of 11 buildings up to 200 years old. It was a complicated planning exercise, as the column grids were not uniform. We had to be creative to plan traffic flow, using architectural elements for compartmentalization. Our screens create impressions of "rooms" without actually enclosing.
Aside from the luxury aspect, how did you choose materials?
They all have a natural tonal direction that's understated. For instance, in footwear, zebrawood covers the walls, and dove-gray suede panels surround displays. Complementing the bleached-oak floors are custom wool carpets in various grays. Display tables combine either brushed nickel and high-gloss Macassar ebony or rosewood and lacquer. All of it allows the products to take center stage.