Gabellini Sheppard Associates has been collaborating with German fashion designer Jil Sander since the design of her inaugural flagship store in Paris, which opened in March of 1993. Since that time, the firm has designed and implemented over 80 Jil Sander boutiques and showrooms worldwide. All of these spaces share the same spatial vocabulary—defined by pure, linear geometries; translucent, light filled planes; floating surfaces; and suspended forms—yet each environment is designed to reflect the specificities of its site.
The 12,000 square-foot Paris boutique, located at 52 Avenue Montaigne, was constructed in 1890 as a private dwelling for Count de Lariboisiere by architect Tournade as a quintessential example of French Beaux-Arts architecture. The facade received landmark status in 1990, but the interior had already been destroyed. In response to the building’s history, Gabellini Sheppard Associates created a dialogue between its architectural heritage and its current state by creating an open court and revealing the vertical expanse of the front interior bearing wall. The exterior limestone was brought inside to clad the entire interior face in a metamorphic exchange between the old and new. Radically simplified in form and structure, the interior bearing wall took on the appearance of a Roman aqueduct. It was this revelation that inspired the entire design aesthetic—its classical proportions, its interplay between gravity and weightlessness, and its understated use of materials.