Dsquared2 overhauls traditional luxury for transformative experiences

MILAN – Continuing the brand’s expansion beyond high-end retail, Dsquared2’s headquarters in Milan saw the addition of a luxury spa and gym earlier this year. ‘It’s the latest stage of an overarching restoration of the historical Enel building,’ says Michele Pasini, who together with Barbara Ghidoni and Marco Donati cofounded Storage Associati, the Milan-based architecture firm that undertook the design for Dsquared2. ‘We’re creating a total lifestyle, moving from nutrition to health to fashion. It’s a very personal project based on what brand founders Dean and Dan Caten enjoy most in life. They want to empower people to live a better life.'

Above the brand’s showroom and offices is the penthouse level, which houses a poolside bar and a restaurant, Ceresio 7. Heading the kitchen is Elio Sironi, a chef known for his Mediterranean cuisine and attention to nutritional values. For the interior, Storage Associati’s architects worked together with another Milanese outfit, Dimore Studio. The restaurant, which opened in 2013, was their first step in the realization of a holistic lifestyle destination.

Spa and gym occupy three lower levels, one of which is semi-underground. These facilities represent a new departure for a clothing brand best known for its playful collections and designer denim. Guests discover a grown-up air of opulent simplicity that harks back to the 1930s heyday of the building and espouses a fuss-free approach to health and fitness. Instead of the lurid colours and plastics so familiar to the patrons of contemporary gyms, Storage Associati’s design has the pared-back brutalist look of a space that’s been reduced to the bare essentials.

All non-loadbearing walls were removed from the cavernous gym area, which is dominated by Ceppo Lombardo stone. Flooring is made of black sprung rubber. The muted palette continues in teal-tinted glass, as well as in window and door frames in black-painted steel. Much of the gym equipment was supplied by Italian wellness giant Technogym; bespoke pieces range from wooden Olympic rings to bodyweight setups. It’s easy to imagine a mustachioed Milanese gentleman boxer taking his daily exercise here some 80 years ago. Elegant details in brass and hand-dyed okumè wood are complemented by basic materials such as raw concrete.

The spa may have a timeless aesthetic, but the designers are at pains to emphasize that it’s part of a more egalitarian project. Pasini explains that ‘it’s open to anyone who wants to be a member’ and that it’s meant ‘to feel open to the city and to the world’. As well as the main gym floor and spa area, members have access to various treatment rooms, saunas, hammams and classes that range from barre and calisthenics to anti-gravity weightlifting and yoga.

‘Because luxury spending is shifting from stuff to experiences – and now to personal transformations – it makes sense for brands like Dsquared2 to put transformative experiences at the core of their offer,’ says Victoria Buchanan, strategic researcher at The Future Laboratory, a leading trend-forecasting consultancy. ‘Consumers have a growing desire to care for themselves in a holistic manner, which includes both physical and mental health. It’s a status thing, too; people who want to be perceived as caring about their bodies invest in transformative services.’ Dsquared2’s wellness centre is a clear investment in a future that combines looking good with feeling good.


This article was previously published in Frame 117. Pick up your copy to read more about trends in fitness spaces.

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Frame 117

This issue explores the shifts in the fitness industry towards wellness as a branded experience and luxury commodity. We visit boutique fitness studios and sophisticated work-out facilities that combine exercise, hospitality and retail.

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