Balenciaga has a long held reputation for being one of the more agile and future focused fashion houses. Since 1967 the brand, and its designs, have adapted and moved through multiple reincarnations, responding and changing with the times. When the new Creative Director, Demna Gvasalia, joined in 2015 the brand again began a reinvention process. This time the aesthetic was aimed towards a new generation, the tech savvy, Instagram ready, younger market. New collections have seen tongue-in-cheek pop culture references, and have gained an avid following.
Now that new creative vison has been represented in the fashion, and the new brand-fans are on board, the design is being rolled out across the Balenciaga stores worldwide. Starting with the flagship store on Rue Saint Honoré, Paris, Balenciaga’s team called on the Berlin based architectural studio AAS, and in turn lighting design studio Licht Kunst Licht, to create entirely new concept. This historical base previously had a graphic and colour laden aesthetic, but has now undergone a dramatic shift. The design strips back the chintz and the old powdered-glamour to reveal a minimal, industrial and modular store concept. The industrial design is closely intertwined with the minimal linear lighting aesthetic. Clean lines make the elongated display tables the hero of the space and the polished stainless steel display cabinets enhance the flow and offer agile modular system to both project, and celebrate the garments they house.
The Lighting Concept
AAS’s main objective for the lighting concept was to underline the sophisticated clean interior, with all lighting elements integrated in the suspended beams that run across the whole space at a distance of approximately 2.80m. Concealed indirect lighting for orchestration of the ceiling plane is clad with reflective, textured aluminium foils, and diffused direct lighting tracing the beams as two parallel lines of light, adding a graphic component to the ceiling. Furthermore, adjustable 10° and 26° spotlights with 3,000K colour temperature are arranged in clusters of three at regular distances throughout the space to accentuate the clothing items.
While the illumination within the overall space conveys a sense of lightness and transparency, spot lighting serves to accentuate and highlight the merchandise on display. The resulting combination creates an appealing and striking outside view visible through the fully glazed exterior facade. The resulting interplay between the interior contours and the lighting presents passers-by with a unique and eye-catching spectacle, which entices fashion conscious shoppers into the boutique.
The Perfect Balance of Technology and Style
Using state of the art technologies for both general and accent lighting technology, the majority of the LED luminaires are dimmable, and various lighting scenes can be intuitively recalled via a touch panel to accommodate different user scenarios. What’s more, a neutral white (4,000K) indirect ceiling illumination evokes a sense of lightness and freshness, while accommodating differentiated lighting scenarios and different dimming levels throughout the day. The lighting solution for the store provides quantifiable benefits regarding energy efficiency and maintenance. The store meets LEED requirements.
The resulting fusion of technology and style in the Paris flagship underlines Balenciaga’s new direction whilst ensuring a refreshing and interesting visual experience for the consumer.
Client: Balenciaga, Location 336 Rue Saint Honoré, 75001 Paris
Architects: Gonzalez Haase AAS, Berlin www.gonzalezhaase.com with Demna Gvasalia (Creative Director Balenciaga)
General contractor: Ganter Group www.ganter-group.com
Lighting Design: Licht Kunst Licht AG, Bonn/ Berlin
Team lead: Laura Sudbrock, Malte Simon
Project team: Edwin Smida, Konstantin Klaas www.lichtkunstlicht.com
Photos: Dieter Ertl