Stylish in Seattle
Two leaders in Italian design collaborate to launch B&B Italia at Diva, a new showroom in the Pacific Northwest.
Jen Renzi -- Interior Design, 5/1/2001 12:00:00 AM
B&B Italia has opened its fifth freestanding showroom, a joint venture with one of its top-selling dealers, the Los Angeles-based Diva. The two companies leveraged their fruitful, 12-year relationship by teaming up last spring to expand into a new region. "After researching different markets, we found that Seattle was most suitable for a B&B showroom," says Stephanie De Olivera, co-owner of Diva. She cites the city's recent experiments in forward-thinking architecture, and its general enthusiasm for top-flight design as indicative of its up-and-coming status. The goal of the showroom, she says, "is to provide an environment to inspire new desires and thoughts about space, form, and quality, as represented by B&B Italia's contemporary designs." The real estate hunt zeroed in on a 4,700-sq.-ft. site anchoring Western Avenue—"a street just on the cusp of assuming the identity of furniture row"—near the harbor steps and the Seattle Art Museum.
After Diva secured the building, B&B developed an interiors scheme consistent with the master retail image previously established by designer Antonio Citterio. Rather than reproducing an identical look from store to store, B&B's strategy is one of site-specificity, "adapting the architectural concept to the spaces that we find," says marketing manager Piera Rimoldi. At the onset of the planning phase, Citterio visited the Seattle site and communicated his vision to B&B's in-house research and development team, who collaborated with local firm Mandeville Berge Box to execute the spare design. "It's very minimal," Rimoldi describes. "The architecture is unobtrusive so it doesn't interfere with the furniture." The design team rendered a calm backdrop of expansive white planes, with concrete floors, suspended ceilings, and interlocking wall partitions to break up the lofty volume. Three walls of wraparound windows open the store to the street, "creating a luminous anchor" to the neighborhood.
Shortly after the showroom was launched in December, B&B unveiled a new Paris location, the first dedicated exclusively to its Maxalto line. Stores are also planned to open in Atlanta, Boston, London, and Brussels, in line with the strategy, says Rimoldi, "to open as many B&B Italia and Maxalto stores as possible throughout the world."