project/client: Carlo Pazolini
location: Milan, Italy
designer: Giorgio Borruso Design
Carlo Pazolini is the trade name of the Moscow-based company selling Italian-made footwear that made its first foray in the West when it leased a lofty storefront in Milan and hired the Los Angeles-based designer Giorgio Borruso. CEO Ilya Reznik told Borruso, “We want to go international. Can you give us a language that has the power to impress fashion centers and bring the brand to a higher level?”
Borruso understood the retailer’s need to make a statement. “They left me completely free to devise an appropriate response,” he says. “Designing elements that defined the language and could be combined in different ways, according to the size and location of future stores.”
Borruso began to sketch forms that could serve as display shelves and seating. He found inspiration in the beauty and flexibility of his small son’s feet. A major challenge was to maximize the impact of the concave glass façade. By clustering the shelves on the back wall and introducing color accents in a monochromatic interior, he created a secondary façade that reaches out to the sidewalk, especially when brightly lit after dark.
The 100-ft.-long interior was gutted, leaving only a pair of cast-iron Corinthian columns from the original structure. The floor was covered with large pavers of high-gloss white porcelain, providing a durable surface that is easy to clean. Two-thirds of the rear wall was clad in narrow strips of black wood, and the ribs, set at different depths, peel away at one end. The shelves are cantilevered out on metal rods like outstretched hands, mediating between the lofty space and the human-scaled bags and boots. In the men’s section to the right of the entry, the rear wall is a curved expanse of white plaster, broken only by cantilevered aluminum cabinets and shelves.
The designer wanted seating that would morph out of the shelves to achieve a continuity of shape and texture between objects on the wall and those on the floor. Paola Lenti, an inventive furniture designer, came up with the novel idea of bonding polymer and wool felt without glue, and varying the density of the polymer to provide a soft surface for sitting and a rigid back for support. As Borruso notes, “It’s a process that has never been used before and it allowed us to create pieces that are light yet resilient and have a sharp-edged profile that seems to float in the void.”
Project: Carlo Pazolini. Client: Simone Domenella. Architect: Giorgio Borruso Design; Giorgio Borruso, principal designer. Contractor: REAL srl. Lighting: Studio Luce Rema Tarlazzi S.p.A. Photographer: Alberto Ferrero.
Cellular Seating and Wall Display: Paola Lenti. Architectural Millwork: Chiavari, srl.
Location: Piazza Cordusio, Milan, Italy. Total floor area: 4155 sq. ft. No. of floors: 1.