Steven Holl designs Frederic Malle’s boutique in New York’s West Village
Frédéric Malle has spent the last 14 years trading on his good taste. Since starting his perfume label, Editions de Parfums, in 2000, the charismatic fragrance expert has nurtured some of the most avant-garde and adventurous creations from the industry's most lauded perfumers. Today not only marks the company's birthday (its first store at 37 Rue de Grenelle opened on the same date), but also sees Malle venture into a new realm of curation: architecture. With the opening of his new West Village store, Malle heralds a new edition of standalone stores designed by top architects.
'My plan to open more free-standing stores around the world allows me to live my childhood dream: "publishing" the work of great architects in the form of Editions de Parfums stores,' the entrepreneur explains. 'I will have the same sort of creative relations with architects that I have with perfumers. I will ask them to design their dream shop with no compromise, nor limitation, although this time there will be a budget!'
For the inaugural effort, Malle wanted to work with an architect who had an understanding of the idiosyncratic nature of the West Village. 'I was looking for an artist whose style would contrast harmoniously with the character of this particular block,' he says. 'My wish was to work with a top architect, but someone whose practice would be small enough so I would work directly with him, rather than with a battalion of assistants.'
The answer came in the form of Steven Holl, whose work Malle has long admired. Says Malle: 'I stated my only requirements: the presence of the portraits of the perfumers, refrigerated cabinets to store our perfumes, and the existence of smelling devices to allow our clients to truly discover each composition. Finally, I stated that our stores are always comfortable places, where visitors feel at ease and manage to get away from the stress of every day life, places where time stops.'
From the outside, the boutique is a futuristic slipped disk, inserted into the brownstone-lined Greenwich Avenue. Upon entering, visitors are met with a lustrous silver interior. The walls and ceiling are made from a porous aluminum foam; a material that Holl also used for a giant door in his office. Walnut wood panelled floors run across the 400 sq ft space and vertically in the form of matching display counters, an arching bench and a semi-circular shelf, which trails off around the room and joins with a similar frame that decorates the glass storefront. On one wall, framed black and white portraits of participating perfumers hang tastefully over chilled cabinets containing bottles of fragrance, while three smelling pods adjacent allow visitors to experience the scents in all their purity.
The feeling of calm is palpable. 'You arrive here, and it's like a parentheses in your life,' Malle summed up. To complement the intimate space, the shop boasts an intuitive lighting system designed by Hervé Descottes, a creative accomplice of Holl and the likes of Andreé Putman and James Turrell, which subtly adjusts and dims according to the time of day. Venture further in and you might also catch a glimpse of the circular private garden - the perfect finishing touch.
With more stores to come in London, Miami and Los Angeles, we're eager to see what other creative collaborations Malle is concocting.
94 Greenwich Avenue
New York, USA
Pei-Ru Keh is the US Editor at Wallpaper*. Born and raised in Singapore, she has been a New Yorker since 2013. Pei-Ru has held various titles at Wallpaper* since she joined in 2007. She currently reports on design, art, architecture, fashion, beauty and lifestyle happenings in the United States, both in print and digitally. Pei-Ru has taken a key role in championing diversity and representation within Wallpaper's content pillars and actively seeks out stories that reflect a wide range of perspectives. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children, and is currently learning how to drive.
Last chance to see: Sharjah Biennial 15, ‘Thinking Historically in the Present’
Built on the vision of late curator Okwui Enwezor, the Sharjah Biennial 15: ‘Thinking Historically in the Present’ offers a critical reframing of postcolonial narratives through major new commissions
By Amah-Rose Abrams • Published
For London Gallery Weekend 2023, the mood is hardcore
With London Gallery Weekend 2023 almost upon us (2 – 4 June), here’s our list of must-see art exhibitions
By Harriet Lloyd-Smith • Published
Birkenstock celebrates its most memorable styles with colourful capsule (and matching socks)
Birkenstock marks the 40th, 50th and 60th anniversaries of the Gizeh, Arizona and Madrid sandals, respectively, with limited-edition versions
By Jack Moss • Published
Es Devlin collaborates with Chanel on monumental exhibition
Es Devlin has created an immersive labyrinth to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Chanel No5
By Mary Cleary • Last updated
New Affiliates architects make groundbreaking perfume bottle
Régime des Fleurs debuts its first men's fragrance, with a bottle design by architects New Affiliates, one of the fast-emerging practices in the Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory 2021
By Mary Cleary • Last updated
Louis Vuitton bottles LA summertime into three new fragrances
Correspondingly sunny artwork for the Les Parfums collection comes courtesy of Los Angeles' native Alex Israel
By Elly Parsons • Last updated
DS & Durga opens first boutique in New York
By Rosa Bertoli • Last updated
Claus Porto opens its first global boutique in NYC
By Pei-Ru Keh • Last updated
Flower power: Frédéric Malle and Alber Elbaz reinvent the floral fragrance
By Emma Moore • Last updated
Olfactory overhaul: New York perfumer DS & Durga reveals four new scents
By Christopher Stocks • Last updated
Something’s cooking: Kuwaiti perfumery The Fragrance Kitchen opens in NY
By Pei-Ru Keh • Last updated