The Manolo Blahnik store in Moscow’s Nikolsaya Street offered an opportunity to update the country’s traditional Dacha architecture with contemporary materials and processes. Located in Tretiakov Plaza, a high end retail district, the store is presented as a richly crafted box.
The long rectangular retail unit features three walls of glazing, complicating the programme and the need to create distinct and intimate display space. The use of ebonized strips of wood, set vertically to reference Dacha design, creates a solid ‘exterior’ that is then contrasted with a lace-like interior structure. The lace effect was achieved by laser-cutting thin DuPont Corian panels, resulting in interior walls that are white and delicate and form diaphanous screens to create privacy and mystery as well as a strong sense of craftsmanship. The abstracted pattern uses gilded leaf motifs and is also repeated on the legs of the bespoke furniture.
The store sits adjacent to the main entrance to the Plaza, its 15m long dimensions creating a catwalk-style promenade along which new shoes can be tried and admired. The Corian provides a finely detailed backdrop for the bold forms and colours of the shoes, while the ebonized wood is also carried through into the interior to continue the theme of a box of delights. In Russian, the word for traditional lace, kruzhevo, is closely related to the word for encircle, Okruzhite. The design response built upon the idea of encircling and enclosing the space, with the two boxes, one of wood, one of lace. In this way, the store references the vivid landscapes of the Russian fairytale, a fantastical environment of pine forests, deep snow, carved wood, and mystical, totemic objects.