Located at the base of the Spanish Steps within Rome’s distinguished Piazza di Spagna, Eric Carlson and his Paris based architecture office CARBONDALE designed in collaboration with Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana the new 800 square-meter, two level luxury boutique for the archetypal Italian fashion house. The store’s design is a bespoke creation inspired by the shared identity of the city of Rome and Dolce & Gabbana. Eric achieves an insightful and beautifully impressive contemporary interpretation of the rich traditions of Roman culture, power, craftsmanship and the Italian baroque. Importantly, the Rome boutique is strikingly different from those recently created by CARBONDALE for Venice, Italy, and Monte Carlo in Monaco.
Rome is “the eternal city”. Its historical layers of monumental architecture are a mineral mastery of power and beauty held up by the ubiquitous and emblematic stone column. For store design “THE COLUMN”, 59 in total, becomes the unifying element for exterior and for the 11 interior spaces.
Upon entering, to inaugurate the experience Eric employs the Baroque technique of “forced perspective”, a magical illusion that distorts the perception of depth, inspired, by Francesco Borromini’s colonnade at the Palazzo Spada. Three contiguous spaces decrease proportionally in size, ceiling heights, column proportions, and floor patterns to create the magical illusion of depth. Even the dazzling red and gold hand-blown Murano glass chandeliers were custom designed in 3 different scales to accentuate the effect.
Embedded into the white Calacatta marble floor is a circular crest of handcrafted stone mosaic tiles. Depicted is the 2000 year-old story of the she-wolf nursing the reputed founders of the city, Romulus and Remus, represented here like Roman superheroes with a polished brass “D” and “G” emblazoned on their chests.
From the entry space visitors are drawn into the GRAND ROOM, 22 meters long with a 6 meter high ceiling that’ capped with two skylight domes, each lined in gradating colored rings of handmade stone mosaics. The walls of this “Vatican-scaled” space are raw concrete punctuated with glass covered moiré silk panels in a luminous cardinal-red. The stone floor is masterpiece of Italian craftsmanship. 15 different marbles are geometrically collaged in a range in colors from intense yellows, reds, ivory and creams, blue quartz, mother-of-pearl whites and intensely veined blacks and greys. This majestic space is dedicated to women. Dresses, shoes and accessories are displayed on simply designed polished and brushed brass freestanding shelves, tables and jewelry cases.
Rome’s rich cultural of literature, philosophy and poetry are captured into the floors, wall friezes, door passages and window frames. In all, 32 Latin inscriptions, pervasive and inextinguishable, reverberate their wisdom throughout the stone architecture. Bands of handcrafted gold glass mosaic tiles with black granite letters crown the large rooms. Marble and polished brass letters are inset into stone mosaic floor crests and doorways punctuating spaces and transitions.
The piano nobile is organized as linear series of rooms following the exterior façade and the 11 windows that allow for natural sunlight and give rare views to the piazza and Spanish steps. Echoing the opulent 16th century PALAZZO ROMANO each space is designed as a modern palatial room of stone, color and light. The walls are striated with vertical floor-to-ceiling bands of different marble types and combinations. Each ceiling is ringed with a bushed brass frame and raised with a central skylight of illuminated Azul Cielo marble. The sequence of spaces culminates at the prestigious Men’s Sartoria. Intimate and warm, this room is enveloped in 3 tones of lacquered woods. Panels of smoked redgum, walnut, dark ebony and bars of polished brass vertically line the walls and vaulted ceiling.
Rome is a BAROQUE CITY, built by artists and architects such as Francesco Borromini and Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Their creations are vital, lavish with a hyper-reality that deform and exaggerate perceptions to astonish and inspire. Eric has creatively layered into the store’s architect numerous baroque experiences conceived in a contemporary manner with modern materials and technics.
A stunning example of this is the “DIGITAL GALLERY”. Inspired by the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel and Gallery of Map. After climbing the grand marble staircase visitors discover a linear gallerytransporting them into a heavenly paradise. In a contemporary baroque architectural maneuver the linear half-vaulted space is made magically whole by its reflection within a full-length mirror wall visually completing the vaulted form. The modern baroque gesture is brought to its culmination by digitally transforming Paul Troger’s 18th century ceiling fresco. Through curved LED ceiling and wall screens Hercules and Athena are brought to life engulfed in billowing dark clouds of thunder and lightening that slowly give way to a rising sun while surrounded by the penetrating vibrations ofGregorian Chants.