Open since 2010, the store and café occupies the full ground floor of a building adjacent to Santa Maria del Carmine – a 15th century church built for the first duke of Milan. The goal was to create a truly integrated environment that blends the functions of both the store and café – allowing a free flow from the sales floor to the adjacent bar area. Previously divided into three separate storefronts, Jaklitsch / Gardner removed all existing interior partitions to create one large, open floor plan. New frameless windows were then inserted into eight of the building’s twelve south-facing arched bays to unify the existing façade and allow clear views into the store and café. New steel framed glass doors were set into the remaining four bays – creating a main entrance for the store to the west and a larger café entrance to the east.
The retail store was positioned within the building’s seven western-most bays with its entrance facing the piazza. Organized to address the piazza and the linearity of the space, three oversized metal skatetables were set into the center of the sales floor with steel hanging fixtures flanking the storefront windows and backwall. The fixtures and finishes continue the architectural language that Jaklitsch / Gardner has developed with previous Marc by Marc Jacobs stores and include navy blue concrete floors, signature “Marc blue” metal shelving, custom speedrail hanging systems, and upholstered benches by Christian Liaigre.
A frameless, sliding wall of blue glass separates the café and bar from the retail area. Housed within the building’s three eastern-most bays, the café and was designed as a visual extension of the store. Central to the space is a sleek 6-meter-long bar, clad in white thassos marble, that serves as the main point of service for the café. Every element for the space was custom designed by Jaklitsch / Gardner, including new polished-stainless steel and grey concrete café tables and leather and polished-stainless steel bar stools and chairs. To further define the space, SJA designed a large, layered light fixture that serves as a focal point for the space and compliments the polished surfaces of the bar area.
The challenge of the project was to create an architectural strategy that would allow both the store and café to, at times, overlap and interact while, at other times, be separated to serve their specific functions. This was achieved by employing a series of thresholds to define a transitional space between the store and café. This area exists within the two bays between the frameless sliding blue glass door at the bar and a hidden metal roll-down gate at the sales floor. During the day, the connection between the store and café is open. After store hours, the bar is restricted by the blue glass wall to just three bays and can expand to five bays to accommodate special parties and events.
“The combination of the store and café was a great opportunity to explore a new typology for the Marc by Marc Jacobs brand and create a unique dining experience,” says Jaklitsch. “In many ways, Milan, with its café culture, is the perfect setting for the first Marc Jacobs bar and café.”