Design treasures uncovered and reimagined

As part of the French capital’s ‘new renaissance’, the restoration of Samaritaine attracted leading agencies and designers whose work has ensured that one of the oldest buildings in Paris – and the location of the most illustrious new store in travel retail history – retains its magnificent heritage while introducing an equally compelling modernity.

Japanese architectural agency Sejima and Nishizawa and Associates (SANAA) was assigned the restoration of the Art Nouveau and Art Deco buildings on the rue de Rivoli side, as well as the addition of a new modern building.

Founded in 1995 and awarded the prestigious Pritzker Prize in 2010, the agency is known for several major projects including the Christian Dior store in Ginza, Tokyo. In France, SANAA also designed the Institute of Modern Art in Valence and the Louvre-Lens Museum.

The SANAA signature is clean, bright and fluid architecture, thought through to the smallest detail.

For Samaritaine, SANAA completely renovated the Art Nouveau building, creating patios to bring in skylights, imagining a new structure whose undulating glass façade “weaves a real dialogue between past and present in a game of reflections with the buildings opposite”.

A Japanese wave lands on French shores {Photo: We are Contents}

International design firm Yabu Pushelberg adds its signature through the design of the Port-Neuf building’s interior. Based in Toronto and New York, the Canadian studio’s work in experiential locations and interiors of department stores has included Barneys New York and Lane Crawford in Hong Kong.

At Samaritaine, Yabu Pushelberg highlights the Eiffel Tower and its luminosity while bringing a warm, refined style to all floors of the Pont-Neuf building, with the exception of the beauty area that was created by Hubert de Malherbe. Again combining an historic façade with a contemporary approach, Yabu Pushelberg offers a nod to Parisian cobblestones through its use of terrazzo to offer visitors a friendly shopping experience in the form of a chic Parisian stroll.

Has there even been a more glorious backdrop for an accessories range in travel retail? {Photo: We are Contents}

The agency also designed furniture and rugs to coordinate with bronze and touches of grey-blue from the original decor.

Hubert de Malherbe has added his distinctive touch in the beauty area. A specialist in commercial design, the French architect has completed spaces for Dior Beauty boutiques, Fenty pop-up stores and the first Hennessy bar in Shanghai, among others.

Hubert de Malherbe has created a distinctively Parisian setting replete with parquet floors, gilded brass structures and mosaics in a nod to the building’s Art Nouveau origins {Photo: We are Contents}

For Samaritaine, he designed the basement of the 3,200sq m beauty area, the largest in Europe. His ‘city stroll’ design takes inspiration from Paris and Samaritaine’s Art Nouveau past to include parquet, personalised floor mosaics and gilded brass structures reminiscent of floral green and houses, as well as references to the Eiffel Tower.

The Rivoli building’s urban spaces are ‘signed’ by French agency Ciguë which has led design projects for Aesop, Isabel Marant and Veja boutiques. At Samaritaine, the French agency has imagined an avant-garde decor echoing the modernity of the concept store and streetwear offered on the Rivoli side.

Photo: Matthieu Salvaing

Photo: We are Contents

In the new glass setting, three floors are designed to appeal to millennials. Ciguë illustrates its artisanal and radical approach by using raw or recycled materials and, in a nod to Paris, Morris Column-style structures and references to Haussmannian interiors and facades are also featured.

Interior designers Chloé Nègre, Karine Chahin and Virginie de Graveron (Atelieramo) added their signature to the Samaritaine Apartment and two private lounges, which are dedicated to jewellery.

According to DFS, they were inspired by the “motley style of Parisian apartments that mix classic French furniture and more contemporary codes” to feature coloured leopard designs and repurposed tailor’s tables, along with other elements.

The design trio found some of the store’s original furniture, including an 18th century wrought iron bed which was transformed into a bench, on the store’s fourth floor.

Photo: Matthieu Salvaing