A large part of the firm’s resources is dedicated to following companies that work in fashion.
Certainly, with the arrival of e-commerce, the approach to sales has been completely turned around.
The big brands have a large amount of data gathered by monitoring the behaviour of customers within their stores.
I have a great passion for boating, and being able to work for Perini Navi makes me incredibly happy.
Marco Costanzi‘s studio is a certain point of reference that many brands operating in the luxury world rely on for the design of new spaces dedicated to retail and the many other activities that are often requested.
As we will see during the interview, behind the charm of these important interventions there is a highly professional work ethic, and the success of Marco Costanzi’s studio lies in knowing how to coordinate and find the right balance between the many factors that are put into place for the realisation of these spaces. If in fact, on the one hand the architect must assimilate the needs and identity the brand, on the other hand he must be able to filter and adapt all of this according to the legislation and culture of the location in which the space will be built. Amongst the many long-standing collaborations that we recall there is certainly the one with the Fendi group, for whom their headquarters was also created inside the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana in EUR. Marco Costanzi has also managed to transform his passion for sailing and the nautical world into a job opportunity. In fact, he is designing two boats for Perini Navi together with Franco Romani.
Can we say that your studio specialises in providing an architectural design service for fashion brands?
Yes, we can safely say that. A large part of the firm’s resources is dedicated to following companies that work in fashion.
I started this job early on and almost by chance in the 90s while I was at university. To support myself, I worked as a clerk in a clothing store, and one day the owner asked me if I would like to design the new look of the store. I started from there and I’ve never looked back. I am very fond of that little shop and it makes me incredibly happy to know that after 30 years it is still there, just as I designed it.
E-commerce is changing retail mechanisms on a global level. In some way, does this revolution affect the way a physical space intended for sale is conceived?
Certainly, with the arrival of e-commerce, the approach to sales has been completely turned around. It has marked the beginning of new endeavours, but also the end of many commercial activities. Multi-brands are those that have suffered the most.
The physical store, although the subject of many changes, remains and I believe it will always remain, because many people, including the younger ones, feel the desire to go to the stores and have physical contact with the products.
It seems to me that luxury shopping centres in big cities are evolving rapidly, I am thinking, for example, of Rinascente in Florence …
That is a store that we know well because we are working on several floors of their building.
It must be said that mono-brand brands, thanks also to their huge economic resources, have managed the advent of e-commerce well because they have faced this revolution on multiple levels.
In the case of Rinascente, as in other similar companies in the world, we have a multi-brand merchant who in turn can be considered a brand in itself.
The characteristic of this type of mall lies in their ability to select high quality brands and to invite them to continuously create new displays and pop-up shops in order to have an ever fresh and updated perception of the overall space.
Do you have any favourite materials?
A distinction must be made between retail and residences. In spaces intended for sales, the materials used closely follow the contemporary trends and the communicative needs of the brand.
In both types of projects, the time component is especially important. The former is destined to last a relatively short and this allows us to use more daring materials, techniques and compositions. In the case of homes, which are destined to last much longer in time, we have completely different needs for their use. This leads us to prefer the use of natural materials such as wood and stone which will become more and more beautiful over the years.
How does the designing of a store usually work? What are the most important steps? During the design stages, is there also a discussion with the visual merchandising director?
The process changes if the client is a large international brand or a multi-brand that owns several stores.
In the first case there are many more figures to deal with, but in both cases our duty is to listen to and understand the needs of the client.
In the case of international brands that own stores in vastly different sites around the globe. How do you relate to the location?
We are now doing a job in Cannes for Dolce and Gabbana, where the project is completely different to the shop we did in Dubai. The big brands have a large amount of data gathered by monitoring the behaviour of customers within their stores. This information greatly influences the design aspect of future stores. Building a store requires a lot of resources, and before it is built a brand wants to thoroughly understand who the people are who will access it. In addition to marketing data, we also have to deal with local regulations, which in turn can always be translated into data.
Fashion companies update or change their collections every year. I don’t believe that this can happen with the image of the store. How do you approach this issue?
Likewise, in this case we must make a distinction between mono-brand and multi-brand.
Within large spaces, many clients request to have zones available that they can often modify by installing pop-up spaces or the like.
To give you an example, in the Christian Dior shop on the Champs-Élysées, an event is held every month within a temporary space designed and built specifically for this purpose. They are often events in collaboration with other brands or important personalities from the art world. Thanks to the communication activity, an atmosphere of expectation and the desire to participate in the inauguration of these temporary spaces are created. The digital and social media world becomes supportive and conducts people to the experience of using a real space. The ritual of shopping becomes highly spectacularised, and the shop is transformed into theatre.
Could you tell me about your relationship with Fendi? In addition to designing their shops, did you also design some things for Fendi Casa?
Yes, that’s right, I designed a lamp and a kitchen collection for Fendi Casa.
My relationship with Fendi began several years ago when they asked me to intervene in their showroom in Milan within the former Pomodoro Foundation. From there, several collaborations came about, leading to an extraordinarily complex job: the construction of their headquarters inside the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana in the Eur district in Rome. Now we are following some projects with them for the construction of some residences that will be branded Fendi.
Could you further explain this last type of intervention?
We have completed these interventions in Miami, and we are carrying out others in Uruguay and Arizona.
In actual fact, Fendi very carefully selects several partners to carry out important residential projects in areas that stand out for their quality of life.
Could you tell me about your relationship with Sergio Rossi?
A few years ago, I met a manager of Hogan with whom I developed an excellent relationship of mutual respect, and who later became the CEO of Sergio Rossi. As soon as he needed a designer to consider the new image of their stores, he contacted me. Over the years we have worked on many fronts trying to communicate the new identity of the brand, which had been left a bit on the back burner by the previous owner.
In addition to designing many retail spaces, you began working with Perini Navi, creating the interiors of two ships. How do you approach these projects?
I have a great passion for boating, and being able to work for Perini Navi makes me incredibly happy. I believe that for an architect, boating is a remarkably interesting subject because it has to solve all that is aesthetics and function at the same time. Everything that is designed must be thought about, considering if its position and shape satisfy all the required needs. Furthermore, we must bear in mind that we are inside a floating structure in motion.
I guess the level of detail is extremely high …
I come from the world of retail and luxury where every detail is thought out and built to perfection. But in the nautical world, the objectives are different. To give you an example, in designing a bedroom we must meet the highest demands for comfort and at the same time keep in mind that we are inside a vessel that is capable of crossing the ocean.
I imagine you have to coordinate with the nautical engineers during the design …
The first design phase consists of drawing the naval architecture and the shapes of the hull, more commonly called “water lines”. The second phase is usually entrusted to the historical designer of Perini Navi, Franco Romani, who establishes the subdivision of the spaces and the external lines. The final phase, on the other hand, is that in which the owner commissions the development and finishing of the interior and exterior furnishings to a designer of their choice.