by Zohra KhanApr 30, 2021
Arianna Lelli Mami and Chiara Di Pinto of Studiopepe have revamped the fourth floor of Milan's historic Rinascente store, creating a space that expresses a new 'genderless' approach to retail design. By employing pop tones and innovative graphic elements, the interiors pay tribute to Milanese street style, and landmark locations within the city, utilising an unusual colour palette that contrasts intense hues of emerald green with darker shades of silver and black.
Hailed as a mandatory Milanese retail experience, La Rinascente's flagship store in Piazza del Duomo has survived multiple setbacks and refurbishments throughout nearly a century of its occupation. In a sense, its story epitomises the brand name's meaning of 'she who is reborn’, created by the poet Gabriele d'Annunzio in 1917. Currently occupying nine prestigious stores across Italy, the company has been at the forefront of innovations in industrial design and high-end shopping experiences within the country for decades. They also established the famed Compasso d'Oro award back in 1954 and have collaborated with several reputed designers such as Gio Ponti, Marcello Dudovich, Max Huber, Giorgio Armani, and Pierre Cardin among many others.
While striving to honour the store's decorated legacy and reimagine it for the present climate, the duo of Lelli Mami and Di Pinto was inspired by the rigorously utilitarian aesthetic of Milanese workplaces during the 1980s. With this in mind, the renovated space on the fourth floor has been structured as a sequence of adeptly organised zones in an open plan, with visual references to prominent city haunts, exuding an air of playfulness and understatement.
For instance, the swooping cylindrical steel tubes used to display apparel bear direct allusions to the railings of Milan's underground stations - designed by Franco Albini and Franca Helg. Moreover, the coral-curtained circular changing rooms were heavily influenced by Gio Ponti's iconic folding doors, serving as a warm, vibrant spectacle amid the predominantly cool colour scheme. Pops of acid yellow line the hollowed-out column exhibits, as well as the edges of garment racks and one of the space's enclosing partitions.
The highlight of the design perhaps, is its wave-like display modules in satin plexiglass, that showcase the store's catalogue of sneakers. Oscillating between opaque and translucent from different perspectives, they provide an intriguing backdrop for the curved carousels clad in gridded modules of chrome steel. Furthermore, features such as Rodolfo Bonetto's renowned Boomerang Chair also lend a uniquely domestic character alongside other bespoke round furnishings.
An homage to the city of Milan is also evident in the meticulously curated material palette, which includes satin steel, terrazzo, and plexiglass. Conventional finishes such as these have been paired with more experimental counterpoints of Silipol - selected by Albini and Helg for underground station walls – Milleforma (a cotton-based sustainable tiling material), and even Alusion - an aluminium foam material famously used by OMA to clad the Fondazione Prada.
When combined with the firm's innovative use of colour as an architectural tool, the redesigned space is a monument that celebrates the city of Milan and unites both past and present. Undercut by a coherent, contemporary feel, Studiopepe’s new interior design preserves the distinguished heritage of the flagship space while imparting a sophisticated and glamorous atmosphere befitting the modern era of retail.