07 May 2019 • Partner Content
Is minimal maximalism the new luxury? Saks Fifth Avenue and EC Studio think so
This February, 95-year-old shopping emporium Saks Fifth Avenue launched one of the largest luxury handbag and leather goods destinations in New York City. The 4924 sq m main floor of the flagship was renovated by the Saks Store Planning and Design team in collaboration with Gensler and features product displays designed by EC Studio.
The department store's fresh interiors are both earthy and ethereal, and offer a 360-degree experience of what the brand calls 'The New Luxury'. Having tripled its handbag department, Saks needed to find ways to showcase more than 50 brands, along with more than 100 merchandising exclusives. EC Studio set out to create displays to match the iconic but modern opulence of the store's new retail environment.
The team designed and manufactured a series of pieces, ranging from bag holders, clutch and multi-clutch displays to padded trays and sign blocks in a grey finish.
To compliment the bespoke Italian terrazzo flooring, transparent and opaque furnishings that guide circulation through the catwalk-inspired aisles, origami-like tables and glass fixtures made from two-way mirror, EC designed objects of great subtlety: bag holders that almost disappear behind petite purses, pocket trays in which wallets nest comfortably. They used brushed metal surfaces in bronze and pewter tones and ensured that every piece was masterfully crafted.
EC Studio, who focuses on minimal design and maximum functionality, has been creating displays for accessories and fabricating them in Italy for 20 years. While its style has evolved, the quality of the displays makes each of them simultaneously able to foreground the product while remaining an object of sculptural beauty in its own right.
The displays are now part of the store's $250 million Grand Renovation, which began several years ago. Anchoring the floor are OMA/Rem Koolhaas-designed escalators. Stacked to maintain open sightlines, they connect the floors visually while smoothing traffic flow. Most notably, however, they are sheathed in iridescent dichroic film, the colors of which shift as shoppers glide between levels.