Ferrari in Overdrive
Donna Paul -- Interior Design, 7/1/2003 12:00:00 AM
In Italy, even grandmothers go to bars to watch Formula 1—and Ferrari is a cult verging on obsession. Ferrari ownership, on the other hand, is a prerogative of the rarefied few, leaving a difficult task for the automotive icon's first freestanding Ferrari Store, by Studio Iosa Ghini Architecture and Design. Located in Maranello, right across the street from the Ferrari factory that made this northern town famous, the store addresses a broad customer base while at the same time manifesting the brand's power and wealth. "The architecture balances sport and sophistication but also differentiates them," says architect Massimo Iosa Ghini. Think Prada and H&M under a single roof.
To bridge the status gap, he incorporated strong yet simple forms that capture the concepts of speed and luxury. Walls in gleaming lacquer—Ferrari red, of course—weave a winding path through the 3,000-square-foot space; circles recur as dropped and recessed portions of the ceiling. Streamlined and energetic, the architecture supports displays for the wide range of Ferrari customers, now in Maranello and eventually in the European and U.S. cities where similar ventures are planned.
To the right of the cash-wrap desk in Maranello, Formula 1 fans find jackets, shirts, caps, and driving shoes. "Everything you need to feel part of the team," explains director of retail Antonio Armella. Wheeled aluminum racks offer maximum display flexibility. Giving a nod to racing lingo, Iosa Ghini emblazoned the words pit lane on a red stripe across the white resin floor.
Inside the red-lacquered wall lies a more privileged zone. Sealed glass vitrines, built into the wall's curve, hold Tod's shoes, golf bags, and miniature GTs; Girard-Perregaux watches are displayed on an illuminated enclosed shelf. An elliptical silver-painted case stands elegantly in the center of the floor, a glass top revealing artfully arrayed leather goods, silk ties, and cashmere scarves with the unmistakable stallion logo. Regardless of price point, Iosa Ghini focused on maintaining a race-worthy intensity level. Head to the state-of-the-art interactive area to experience full-throttle multimedia overload. For an industrial contrast to the rest of the interior, he surfaced the area's entry ramp and floor in stainless steel printed in a custom oval pattern. A mega- size flat-screen monitor, hooked up to two Sony PlayStations, simulates any Grand Prix course in the world, and surround-sound speakers under the floor rumble and vibrate like an accelerating engine. Along a sidewall, video games are available for sale, but eliciting emotion takes precedence over moving merchandise. "This area is more experiential than commercial," says Iosa Ghini.
The visual excitement of racing comes through most dynamically behind the glazed storefront, where the architect installed a 11-by-14-foot photograph of waving Ferrari flags. The photo forms a backdrop for an actual Formula 1 car, parked on a carpeted circular platform. Michael Schumacher not included.