Designer Marc Jacobs is known for his edgy fashion collections, theatrical runway shows, and his colorful personal life. But the interiors of his brand’s stores are typically subdued to keep the focus on the products—which range from high-end to affordable men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing, as well as fragrances and accessories. One recently opened store is the first brick-and-mortar location devoted to the new Marc Jacobs Beauty line. Produced by Sephora, the line includes more than 120 products.
The 425-square-foot corner space on Bleecker Street in Manhattan’s West Village—which had previously housed several Marc Jacobs brand iterations, most recently the accessories line—opened in August to become the fifth brand store within a few blocks. Like most of the 300-plus Marc Jacobs stores located in more than 30 countries, the beauty store was designed by New York–based Jaklitsch/Gardner Architects.
Fourteen years ago, Jacobs’ business partner Robert Duffy hired the firm based on a contractor’s referral to design his apartment, and subsequently, several more residences. Then he asked Jaklitsch/Gardner to design San Francisco’s first Marc Jacobs store, even though the firm had no retail design experience at the time. Their business relationship blossomed based on shared values. “Robert and I both resist easy consumption, and he’s always looking for something that is timeless and classic,” says Stephan Jaklitsch, a principal at Jaklitsch/Gardner. “The cycle of fashion is such that things get consumed every six months, but architecture lasts longer and needs to be able to stand on its own.”
A central fixture houses multiple functions
To create the timeless interior that Duffy desired, Jaklitsch and his team drew inspiration from classics such as the movie La Dolce Vita and retail interiors from the 1930s by French designer Jean-Michel Frank—as well as Jacobs’ concept for the beauty products’ packaging. Set against a white Thassos marble floor, a five-foot-ten-inch by six-foot-six-inch black granite table designed by Jaklitsch/Gardner occupies the center of the store. Water-jet stone cutting technology allowed the architects to achieve delicate, scalloped edge details.
The table’s form and its hand-polished surfaces echo the packaging of many Marc Jacobs Beauty products with rounded edges and a high-shine finish. The table is striking and glamorous, but it is also functional. “We originally designed a separate cash wrap counter, but we chose to concentrate everything within the table to make it as theatrical as possible,” Jaklitsch says. It serves as the point of sale while accommodating three makeup artists working simultaneously. Artfully concealed drawers store their tools of the trade. Instead of specifying standard makeup counter stools with swivel bases, the architects designed leather-upholstered stools with dramatically cantilevered stainless steel frames.
Lighting and displays highlight products
Above the table hangs a chandelier designed by the architects in collaboration with Kacper Dolatowski of Axon Design Inc. The fixture comprises 14 black and crystal blown glass globes set within polished stainless steel vitrines. Since the act of applying makeup requires special lighting, the architects called for upgraded LED lamps within the store’s existing track lighting system, which is cleanly recessed within slots in the ceiling. They also specified new LED fixtures to backlight an existing wall of white acrylic panels, creating a flattering glow within the modest space.
While the black table is the focal point of the customer experience, the displays along the back wall prominently showcase the beauty products. Sephora produced the slotted makeup trays to align with their standard sizes. Working closely with Sephora to coordinate dimensions and tolerances, Jaklitsch/Gardner designed vitrines made from satin polished stainless steel, mirrors, and clear radiused glass to fit around these cores and tie into the brand aesthetic. Similar customized displays will be installed in other Marc Jacobs stores across the United States. Marc Jacobs has not yet announced plans to replicate this beauty store concept. But with recent news that Jacobs and Duffy are exiting their 16-year relationship with Louis Vuitton to concentrate on their own brand, it might only be a matter of time.
Marc Jacobs Beauty
- Architect: Jaklitsch/Gardner Architects
- Client: Marc Jacobs International
- Where: New York
- What: 425 square feet on one floor
- Cost/sf: Withheld at client’s request
Key Design Highlights
- The focal point of the customer experience is a black granite table. The curved, black packaging of many Marc Jacobs Beauty products inspired the table’s form.
- Standard Sephora displays were customized to reflect the Marc Jacobs retail aesthetic.
- The architects worked with local fabricators to create the table, chairs, and the chandelier.
- Existing track lamps and ambient fixtures were updated with LEDs selected to enhance the experience of applying makeup.