Architect Peter Marino was in the mood to speak in the power of 10.
“It’s much easier to work with a limited palette – 10 times easier,” he said, calling from his Manhattan-based firm to talk about “The Architecture of Chanel,” a book that features a selection of 16 of the many buildings he designed for Chanel, all in the French brand’s signature black and white.
As simple as they seem – shapes like sugar cubes for Los Angeles and Miami, an asymmetrical stack of black rectangles for Seoul – Marino said that “10 times the effort” is spent creating ‘a building versus an interior’ because the interior never lasts any longer. more than five years.
An essential architect of many of the biggest names in luxury – from Dior, Bulgari and Louis Vuitton to Ermenegildo Zegna – Marino has collaborated with Chanel for 25 years and has received hundreds of orders, amassing a collection of buildings as recognizable as Chanel the packaging of a bottle of No.5.
“Four thin black lines outlining a matte white rectangle: inherently architectural, modern, timeless, elegant, clean and simple,” writes Marino in the preface to the 280-page tome, which is published by Phaidon and abundantly illustrated with conceptual drawings and photos abundance of exteriors and interiors.
In an interview, the architect noted that “every brand has a color, which is really interesting” and referred to Dior’s signature gray and Vuitton’s distinct brown, and mentioned Christian Louboutin’s famous suits on their soles. red. “The color is really, really, really close to a brand, which is why I have never been able to understand Valentino stores in the past eight years because they suddenly switched to gray terrazzo and I was pretty puzzled about it. But then, what do I know?
Admittedly, Marino has hardly exhausted black and white while he accumulates orders from Chanel, including “two or three big ones in China”, a “huge” renovation project in Nice and the fine jewelry store in the area. Vendome. In total, he has designed over 200 stores for Chanel.
“White and black are a great color palette to work with. And very, very, very strong. Chanel is lucky they own this palette, I mean, “he said, recounting the founder’s very formative childhood” growing up in a white stucco convent wearing black school clothes. “
In Marino’s New York office, a large room is dedicated to Chanel, the walls adorned with black-and-white paintings, or gold paintings, with all the brand’s material samples kept in cupboards.
He noted that it was for the benefit of his young employees.
“Not everyone has the luxury of having been doing this for 42 years,” he said impassively. “And that’s really good because they’ve been surrounded by physical images and materials and everything they can touch, so they’re entering the brand’s psyche faster.”
Marino said Gabrielle Chanel’s La Pausa house in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, which she was asked to help renovate, is a case study in the “hard and severe” architecture she favored – essentially a 1930s version of a convent.
In the book’s introduction, design writer Pilar Viladas sums up Marino’s approach to his buildings and retail designs for the legendary brand.
“The Chanel box n ° 5; Chanel’s black, beige and white color scheme; her iconic tweed and pearls and flattering are just a few of the themes that Marino interprets over and over again – but never quite in the same way – using luxurious materials and precise details, ”she writes.
One of Marino’s favorite buildings – on Bağdat Street in Istanbul – has a white marble facade that echoes the pleated silk blouse Chanel wore on her First Communion.
In the book, Marino recounts that longtime Chanel fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld often sent him samples of hand-woven tweed and loop pile, though he was careful to avoid obvious product references like quilted leather.
His building designs and store layouts are configured around demands for space for Chanel departments such as ready-to-wear, shoes, leather goods and perfumes, but he only presents his proposal to the owners, Gérard and Alain Wertheimer.
“Capital spending on architecture is the largest percentage of their investments,” he said. “So owners need to see what’s being spent and does that represent their brand. “
By all accounts, Marino only offers the best for Chanel, garnishing a powder room in the Ginza Namiki store entirely in gray onyx and lighting up other buildings with ornate rock crystal chandeliers commissioned from the Maison Goossens jeweler.
“I am very proud of the uniqueness of the buildings I made for Chanel. They don’t look like anything else, ”he said. “It’s not easy to be non-derivative in today’s fashion world.”
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