San Francisco design has taken a big Italian leap forward with the opening of the Valentino store at Grant and Geary. Designed by British architect David Chipperfield, the store incorporates a distinctly Italian sensibility, an early 20th Century vision of elegant palazzo living combined with the latest in technology. Think symmetry, grand gestures, intimate rooms, monolithic use of material as ornamentation, fiber-carbon technology and LED lighting. The overall feeling is created with a custom palette material, texture, color, surface and light.
The Valentino store takes over the location formerly inhabited by Juicy. (I’m sorry Melissa B, but I think it is a disservice to call it Juicy Couture!) The Juicy store layout was awkward, with poor spacial flow augmented by a small foot print. David Chipperfield made the most of the difficult first floor, completely gutting the interior and reorganizing the layout. The store now has two distinct entrances, with mens clothing on the Geary street entrance and the 4th floor, and women’s accessories on the more prestigious Grant Street entrance, and women’s clothing on the 2 and 3.
“The store is now organized into a series of room, as in a classic Italian Palazzo, transitioning from grand public to intimate private spaces. Each room is “characterized by an iconic element that speaks the Valentino language: a vertical mosaic of mirrors in the shoe area or the American walnut accessory shelving evocative of a gentleman library; the grey leather used in the dressing rooms – the most personal and coziest space; the white plaster walls; the timber parquet; the terrazzo marble on the floors and molding (with inset rugs of black and white marble).
“In contrast to the solidity of the architectural elements, the collection is displayed on slender polished carbon-fiber racks and shelving around the perimeter. These fixtures incorporate LED lighting, allowing each shelf or rack to be individually and almost invisibly illuminated. The overhead lighting strategy reflects the variety of finishes and spaces, combining concealed ambient lighting and clear white product lights around the periphery of the rooms with warm lighting or decorative chandeliers in the center.”
David Bjørngaard, January 2014
(Currently my first-hand knowledge of the San Francisco store is limited to gazing into the windows as construction was finishing up. Since the store opened, I sit immobilized in bed with my leg elevated in a cast. Once I am able to roll my way through the store, I will update this post to provide a more accurate first hand account! For the meantime, my detailed knowledge is based on the Valentino website.)