Chanel's first full-size fine jewelry boutique on New York's Madison Avenue required more than a mere prototype design. Demolition of four existing retail spaces was necessary to create the 1600-square-foot jewelry store and an adjoining 1500-square-foot accessories boutique.
It's never easy to create a design for the company that had been, for most of the 20th Century, the quintessence of design. Adding to the challenge in this case, Shawmut Design and Construction, the Boston-based general contractor for the Chanel stores, was given an aggressive schedule of 19 weeks to pull the project together. The boutiques, designed by Peter Marino & Associates (New York), feature separate entrances with a hidden pass-thru connecting the two.
Because the original four retail spaces featured different floor elevations, a complete demolition was required. The previous tenants had destroyed some of the original, historical stone pieces, so Shawmut vp Les Hiscoe and his team re-created parts of the stone and added leaf patterns.
"Our challenge was to track production to make sure we met the tight schedule and deadline," says Hiscoe. "We had to pull all these different elements together, track every bit of material and make sure the entire project came together in a timely manner."
Both boutiques feature a variety of interesting colors and materials. Belgian black marble flooring and light beige carpeting surround the jewelry space. "The perimeters of the jewelry boutique are not very large, but we used wall panels in a deep burgundy swirl pattern with lacquered randomly shaped mother of pearl strips," says Hiscoe. In between those panels are black leather walls.
The typical design for Chanel requires numerous light coves to hide the abundant lighting fixtures. "Lighting is very critical for jewelry," says Hiscoe, "so we also had to create a dramatic ceiling, which was very heavy and required a lot of engineering."
Designers came up with a floating resin-panel ceiling interspersed with glass mosaic lit from behind to add a glowing quality. Floating vitrines with glass caps and black metal bases house the jewelry. Several cases utilize fiberoptic lighting, hidden in the fixtures'legs. "The vitrines include thin, custom-made fixtures with fiberoptic heads, which illuminate the jewelry in a dramatic way," says Hiscoe.
True to Chanel's typical color scheme, both spaces feature traditional white, black and beige inspired by the late Coco Chanel's Paris apartment. High-end sliding millwork panels of black and gold carbon fiber, burgundy and cream lacquer panels and Portuguese stone flooring can be found throughout the accessories and shoe boutique.
Shawmut has completed six projects for Chanel, and is working on two new locations in Orlando and Dallas. "The Chanel projects are very challenging," says Hiscoe. "Building a Chanel store is like building a watch with all its parts and pieces."
Client Team: Chanel Inc., New York - Barbara Cirkva, senior vp; John Brennan, vp, operations
Design: Peter Marino & Associates, New York - Peter Marino, principal
General Contractor: Shawmut Design and Construction, Boston - Les Hiscoe, vp; William Pisani, senior project manager
Suppliers: Media Services, New York (audio/video); Armstrong World Industries, Lancaster, Pa. (ceilings); ABS Atlantic, New York (bathroom ceiling); Cennachi, San Lazzaro di Savena, Italy (fixturing, furniture); American Stone, Houston (stone flooring); Edward Fields, College Point, N.Y. (carpeting); Ann Kale Associates, New York, Fisher-Morentz Stone, New York (lighting); SGF Associates, New York (fiberoptics); Capital Manufacturing, Landsdale, Pa. (signage); Faux Forum, Long Island, N.Y., Cennachi, San Lazzaro di Savena, Italy (mother of pearl lacquer panels)