Clean Chic – Avant-Garde Retail Design for Balenciaga
As part of a new creative direction for the brand worldwide, Balenciaga’s flagship store in Rue Saint Honoré, Paris, was recently subject to a new interior and lighting concept by Berlin design studio AAS. The new design is characterised by clean lines, elongated display tables, and an intricate network of suspended tubes for showcasing apparel. To implement and assist with the technical realisation of the lighting concept, AAS collaborated with lighting design studio Licht Kunst Licht. The resulting fusion of technology and style in the Paris flagship underlines Balenciaga’s new direction whilst ensuring a refreshing and interesting visual experience for the consumer.
Highly revered by his peers and widely considered to be one of the most influential designers of the Twentieth Century, Cristóbal Balenciaga was arguably the designer’s designer. Since his retirement in 1967, the luxury fashion house has lived through many reincarnations; in fact, the company’s reputation has been preserved by its ability to adapt and move with changing times.
With the accession of Demna Gvasalia (co-founder of controversial fashion label Vetements) to Creative Director of Balenciaga in 2015, the fashion brand once again set itself up for a change in direction, this time taking a definitive step towards repositioning its aesthetic for a new generation. In addition to introducing a healthy dose of his now infamous tongue-in-cheek references to pop culture to Balenciaga’s new collections, Gvasalia’s creative vision has also extended to encompass the aesthetic transformation of Balenciaga’s stores throughout the world.
A New Direction
For the first major retail endeavour under the Georgian designer’s supervision in Europe, Gvasalia turned to Berlin-based architectural studio AAS to create an entirely new concept for the Balenciaga flagship store in Paris – the historical base of Balenciaga since 1937. The resulting interior design and lighting concept – which will also serve as a basis for further store roll outs throughout the world – sees a monochrome, industrial design closely intertwined with a minimal linear lighting aesthetic. In order to translate their lighting concept into reality, AAS collaborated with lighting design studio Licht Kunst Licht, who assisted AAS with lighting consultation and implementation.
In response to Gvasalia’s new creative direction, AAS’s design marks a dramatic shift from the previous graphic, colour-laden aesthetic of Balenciaga’s stores; instead opting for a modern, industrial feel characterised by clean lines, elongated display tables, and an intricate network of suspended tubes for showcasing apparel. Inspired by warehouse and production spaces by the couturier, AAS also developed an ingenious clothing transport system made of polished stainless-steel. The construction connects display cabinets, changing rooms and storage spaces throughout the entire space, and allows for the manual transportation of garments across the boutique. The resulting visual impression is one of flow and open character.
Clean Lines Accentuate Industrial Aesthetic
AAS’s main objective for the lighting concept was to underline the sophisticated, clean interior design, with all lighting elements integrated in the suspended beams running across the space at a distance of approximately 2.80m. Concealed indirect lighting for orchestration of the ceiling plane is clad with reflective, textured aluminium foils, diffused direct lighting tracing the beams as two parallel lines of light adding a graphic component to the ceiling. Furthermore, adjustable 10° and 26° spotlights with 3,000K colour temperature are arranged in clusters of three at regular distances throughout the space to accentuate the clothing items. The carefully aimed fixtures also boast excellent colour rendering (CRI > 90), which ensures the colours and textures of various garments within the store are faithfully and realistically reproduced.
Thorough calculations and mock-ups were conducted by Licht Kunst Licht in order to determine the most efficient fixture spacing, beam angles, light distribution and direction of luminaires. Furniture integrated lighting fixtures, such as linear undershelf lighting, have been kept out of view so as not to disturb and disrupt the overall impression of the space. The lighting intensities were carefully chosen to achieve a well-balanced hierarchy throughout the store.
While the illumination within the overall space conveys a sense of lightness and transparency, spot lighting serves to accentuate and highlight the merchandise on display. The resulting combination creates an appealing and striking outside view visible through the fully glazed exterior facade. The resulting interplay between the interior contours and the lighting presents passers-by with a unique and eye-catching spectacle, which entices fashion conscious shoppers into the boutique.
The Perfect Balance of Technology and Style
Using state of the art technologies for both general and accent lighting technology, the majority of the LED luminaires are dimmable, and various lighting scenes can be intuitively recalled via a touch panel to accommodate different user scenarios. What’s more, a neutral white (4,000K) indirect ceiling illumination evokes a sense of lightness and freshness, while accommodating differentiated lighting scenarios and different dimming levels throughout the day. The lighting solution for the store provides quantifiable benefits regarding energy efficiency and maintenance: The store meets LEED requirements.
The resulting fusion of technology and style in the Paris flagship underlines Balenciaga’s new direction whilst ensuring a refreshing and interesting visual experience for the consumer.
Location: 336 Rue Saint Honoré,
Architects: Gonzalez Haase AAS, Berlin
with Demna Gvasalia
(Creative Director Balenciaga)
General contractor: Ganter Group
Lighting Design: Licht Kunst Licht AG, Bonn/ Berlin
Team lead: Laura Sudbrock, Malte Simon
Project team: Edwin Smida, Konstantin Klaas
Completion: February 2017
Photos: Dieter Ertl
Specified luminaires – extract:
Spotlights: iGuzzini, adjustable customized LED 10°/26° fixtures
Diffused linear light profile at underside of beams: LED Linear
Diffused indirect light profile on top of beams: Insta
Furniture integrated lighting: Osram