Vudafieri-Saverino Partners has transformed a historic nineteenth-century Mansion into a space halfway between a concept store and an art gallery, in the name of eclecticism and contamination: a revolution in the language of luxury retail.
Delvaux, the oldest luxury leather goods house in the world, founded in Belgium in 1829, has inaugurated a new store in the heart of Brussels: “Le 27”. Housed in a majestic Mansion on Boulevard de Waterloo, a high-end luxury shopping area, “Le 27” is much more than a boutique: it is a unique environment, combining the savoir-faire of the Delvaux collections with the beauty of the greatest items of Belgian design, paintings, and ceramics, giving life to an art gallery in continuous evolution.
The project is signed by the Milan based studio Vudafieri-Saverino Partners, which since 2012 has been responsible for the design of Delvaux stores worldwide (more than 40 of them, including boutiques in Paris, London, Shanghai, Tokyo, Dubai …), creating boutiques that are always different from one other.
A philosophy that now reaches its culmination with “Le 27”, whose design is based on a completely new, made-to-measure concept: Vudafieri-Saverino Partners assigns a key role to Belgian historical memory, while still supporting the desire to make way for contemporary trends. A place where Delvaux’s philosophy and heritage find their ultimate expression.
An entrance arcade welcomes visitors into what was once an imposing private villa. Set out on two floors, the store has retained its original structure, with the walls enriched with nineteenth-century mouldings, mirrors, medallions and frescoes that once decorated the reception rooms. Four-metre-high ceilings give a broader scope and brightness to an environment where materials such as marble, wood and wrought iron stand out. The grand staircase at the entrance leads to the spacious upper floor which is immersed in surreal light projected through the windows of the Art Deco skylight.
Vudafieri-Saverino Partners has preserved these historical spaces, reinterpreting the interiors in an avant-garde language, rich in learned and refined references. The rooms are a contemporary interpretation and celebration of the early period of modern design that was so important in Belgian 20th century culture.
Through a refined interaction of modular elements that combine geometric rigour and trompe-l’oeil supports, the display fittings organise, rationalise and embellish the presentation of bags and accessories. The wall displays are conceived as abstract paintings whose design is a homage to Mondrian’s De Stijl artistic movement. Their geometric and classical form is balanced by vertical light-grey coloured bands, which interrupt the symmetry. These in their turn combine with the pure, refined lines of shelves and consoles: designed as a combination of minimal asymmetrical shapes, they are enriched by the use of precious materials commonly used in furniture design during the art-deco period, such as marble or polished nickel.
The combination of the apparently “poor” material and finishes of the Mondrian-style wall displays, the richly baroque finish of the wardrobes and the out-centered colored stripes, disrespectful of classical spaces, creates a balanced cohabitation between classic and modern, order and disorder, rule and exception. A contrast that reflects the Delvaux attitude that presents rigorously classic forms, dialectically combined with extremely modern, chic, slightly playful additions.
The furnishings are enriched by emblematic Belgian design pieces created by the greatest designers of the twentieth century: Jules Wabbes, Pieter de Bruyne, Renaat Braem, Emiel Verannema: all works signed in limited editions, unique and rare, worthy of a museum collection. There is also room for pieces by contemporary Belgian designers (Nathalie Dewez, Alain Berteau and Ben Storms) and international designers, such as the Italian Gino Sarfatti: master of lighting design. The globular shapes recall those of the Atomium, Belgium’s iconic pavilion at the 1958 World Fair in Brussels.
Not just design. Between the ground and the first floor what appears to be a collection of ancient paintings turns out to be a series of photographs, archival pigment prints by the Argentine artist Romina Ressia in which her post-neo-Flemish portraits are combined with daily and kitsch artifacts. Yet another brilliant twist and playful illusion.
A collection of twentieth-century Belgian ceramics appears here and there on a wall, stacked high, embodying the fantastic, endless creativity of Belgian artists. Le 27 brings together a number of pieces, of striking form and deep pigments. In ceramics as in leather goods, color is the crowning glory.
In “Le 27” the Maison’s bags and accessories meet works of art and design that turn the boutique into a museum in constant evolution, a genuine place of encounter, dialogue and discovery. Open to visitors, ideal for wandering around with its historical, contemporary and eclectic furnishings destined to change as new pieces are acquired, Le 27 is a deliberately original and decidedly unique environment. So unique that it will not be reproduced, ever, anywhere in the world.