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Over the past decade, Dimore Studio has become one of the design world’s buzziest practices. “Everything we do is about creating a sense of surprise,” declares co-founder and the more creative half of the duo, Emiliano Salci. “I think we’re very orthodox but in a positive way,” adds business partner and co-founder Britt Moran. Their interiors often bring together unusual color combinations, a wistful nostalgia, and striking originality. In fact, the firm name is derived from the Italian word for dwellings because, to Moran and Salci, it conjures a classical aesthetic, which corresponds to their work always being rooted in tradition. It’s a look that has gained them an impressive list of global commissions including the hip Ceresio7 restaurant in Milan, a Fendi boutique in Monaco, a London town house for Dan and Dean Caten of DSquared, and an Oliver Peoples shop in Miami.
Unveiled last month, Dimore Studio’s latest project is One-Off, a 6,500-square-foot luxury womenswear boutique in Brescia, about an hour east of Milan. It’s one of two stores that are part of a joint venture between local retail group G&B Negozio and Greek behemoth Folli Follie. The men’s counterpart, designed by Baciocchi Associati, the Tuscan firm best known for its Prada shops worldwide, opened a few doors down in October.
As the name suggests, the One-Off stores have the express aim of creating an exclusive shopping experience, both in merchandise and environment—the tag line is “Avant-garde. Ultra-creative. Curated.” It’s a response to the upsurge in online shopping, the idea being that to drag customers away from their computers, something new and unexpected must be offered. “Online shopping involves the concept of speed,” Folli Follie co-owner Francesco Galli says. “Physical shopping involves the concept of pleasure.”
The women’s boutique stretches over five floors of what used to be two separate buildings dating to circa 1800. Moran and Salci linked them together and placed a central staircase clad entirely in a white linoleum that mimics ceramic tile at the core of the newly joined space. Aesthetically, Dimore Studio was given an open brief—a directive that proved particularly inspiring to Salci. “Emiliano gets bored easily,” Moran notes. “So whenever a client says, ‘Let’s just have fun,’ he begins his own voyage.”
They were, however, asked to introduce the notion of modularity into the design of the store. The top floor has been devised as a pop-up space, and elsewhere the plans are to make changes to the displays every six months or so. “The idea was to create a beautiful shell, but then to have elements you can either take away or add to,” Salci explains. One of the more striking features, a freestanding cash-wrap desk covered in dozens of blond wigs, is a perfect case in point: It’s framework is pegboard, so the hairpieces can be easily removed and replaced by something maybe even wackier.
Throughout, the duo created a number of distinct atmospheres. “It’s really as if there are five stores in one,” G&B Negozio founder Gianni Peroni remarks. The basement is largely devoted to the shoe department, the ground level to accessories, and the second and third floors to ready-to-wear. In each, Dimore Studio’s use of materials is particularly strong. There are exposed plasterboard walls and others paneled in silver film, display columns clad in pink latex, white acrylic floors and ceilings, and touches of bamboo. The latter, explains Moran, is a nod to iconic Italian designer Gabriella Crespi, who often incorporated it into her furniture. One of her Tavolo Scultura tables can be found near a cash-wrap. Additional vintage furniture appears in other areas, too. There’s a silvery Angelo Mangiarotti chandelier in the shoe department, Gae Aulenti’s pastel-painted tables and chairs in ready-to-wear, and even a stool in the form of an eye designed by photographer Man Ray in 1971.
There are myriad other wonderfully whimsical touches. Back in the shoe department, rows of mannequin legs appear to pop out of a wall; another area has been furnished with a series of oversize cushions, practically inviting customers to recline. “It’s like a 21st-century harem,” Moran quips. One level up, clothes and accessories hang from poetic treelike structures made from real walnut branches. On the third floor, one of the rooms looks like it could be straight out of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: Space Odyssey. The designers’ version brings together a backlit platform and ceiling of white acrylic printed with a black grid pattern, dotted with a few classical-style plaster columns. Everywhere, merchandise is displayed with extreme restraint. A single pair of Gucci loafers stands near a column. A Balmain dress hangs along on a simple tangerine-painted open frame. A half dozen clutches all in a rose-colored palette ring the pink column.
Early visitors to the store were given further insight into the world of Dimore Studio in the pop-up-style top floor, where the firm’s own furniture creations are displayed. In June, the space will be devoted to ephemeral presentations of limited-edition fashion. And a collaboration with Prada for the room is already afoot. But Galli is coy to divulge anything further. “To discover more,” he says teasingly, “we invite you to visit the boutique.”
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