London – The era of ‘starchitects’ is back at London department store Selfridges, where luxury label Louis Vuitton has unveiled a three-floor townhouse, a miniature shop-in-shop version of its Bond Street Maison, a few streets away.
Designed by French-born, Japanese-based architect Gwenaël Nicolas, the Louis Vuitton townhouse concept at Selfridges features surprise luxury elements, such as bronze-painted wood interiors and glass- or leather-covered touchscreen tables for the brand’s bespoke monogramming service.
The ground floor space is anchored by a central spiral glass structure that swirls up through the three storeys, playfully showcasing the products and adding a dramatic touch of retail theatre. The glass structure also houses a working lift to whisk customers up through the three departments – accessories and luggage on the ground floor, a menswear ready-to-wear concession on the first, and a women’s salon on the second.
Contemporary art features prominently, as with Louis Vuitton’s other Maisons in London and Shanghai. The Selfridges Townhouse features work by British artist Barnaby Barford – a series of intricate sculptures made from thousands of ceramic and porcelain flowers, leaves and butterflies, embedded within mirrored walls.
Luxury brands are super-sizing their flagship destinations. The relationship between luxury brand and department store is changing, as design houses such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton take control of their concessions business to maximise a multi-faceted brand offer on their own terms.