In celebration of Italian luxury leather company Valextra’s 80th anniversary, Daniel Arsham and Alex Mustonen of New York-based firm Snarkitecture have designed the 2017 pop-up project for Milan’s historic Via Manzoni store.
The visual impact of this 2017 Valextra store renovation is noticeably striking and primarily conceived to surprise and captivate costumers when entering the space. The duo’s concept is inspired by the simple structural order of common scaffolding systems – often overlooked as temporary frameworks rather than complex and highly regimented modules – that divide the store into three main bays: each with its own internal support system from which a white, billowing mesh is suspended.
When entering the store, we find ourselves enveloped by a singular, dense, white matt surface, blurring the boundaries of the walls and ceiling, in contrast with the precise and clean lines of Valextra products. Everything inside is soft and padded. The entire store is wrapped in layers of tactile fabric all in degrading hues of white – the non-colour par excellence – creating a surreal ambience able to space us out.
“Snarkitecture’s use of white is about reduction and simplifying elements from our normal surroundings. By inviting visitors into a monochromatic environment, we hope to create a space that feels transformative – an experience that transports you from the familiar and everyday”, explain the designers.
Using white as the studio’s signature, and mixing textures to create additional layers of richness, are the directions that the studio had in mind for this specific interior.
Accordingly, Valextra’s new AW 2017 men’s collection, which is dedicated to a sophisticated winter traveler, is All White, an iconic feature that distinguishes the brand and has made its pergamena leather a celebrated signature. The use of this ephemeral and muted palette combined with hard-edged industrial materials further highlights the enduring beauty and graphic purity of the new collection.
“Our approach considered the forms and palette of the Valextra collection. We felt that a monochromatic space would provide a striking, but complementary, setting for the Valextra pieces. Several key elements of the design were inspired by visits to Milan, including the architectural stone for the floor and the scaffold with white mesh,” adds Snarkitecture. “We were interested in the juxtaposition of hard, architectural surfaces with soft textures, as well as the play between precision (the grid-like scaffold) and looseness (the irregular scrim fabric).”
In this all-white tactile environment luxurious materials are treated with industrial rigour: end walls are unconventionally upholstered with thick fury white carpet or quilted fabric, while centre units are encased in fluted foam. The floor is clad in berglass tiles reproducing a high definition stone print.
all images courtesy of Valextra