Brioni's latest store opening - a magnificent new Milanese flagship that sits in the luxury brand's historical home in Via Gesù - was celebrated over the weekend with an installation created by Greek designer Michael Anastassiades in conjunction with Brioni creative director Brendan Mullane.
Wallpaper* acted as matchmaker for the pair, fusing the two creatives for the magazine's annual Handmade project during the Salone del Mobile. The fruits of that teaser project are now revealed on the ground floor of the store (until 12 July), housed inside the very same building that hosted our Handmade exhibition three years in a row.
Entitled 'Blue Hour', the installation (also documented in our July issue, W* 184) features two chairs, a table and lamp contained inside a 3.2 metre tall, 2.5 metre wide cube. Every square inch of the walls, ceiling, floors and the furniture is covered in Brioni's hand-brushed 150 super fine wool flannel in midnight blue.
'The fabric is very dark, very light-absorbing, and very matte,' remarks Anastassiades, who flew in for the opening of the store. 'There is no sheen or reflective surfaces to it so when you first look at it, you can hardly understand what is going on.'
Indeed, a quick first glance at 'Blue Hour' registers nothing more than a two dimensional flat black sheet. Then slowly, as the eye adjusts, one begins to make out the sharp lines of the furniture and the three dimensionality of the space. 'And when the layers start unveiling themselves, you notice how beautifully tailored each object is,' Anastassiades adds.
The entire installation was painstakingly upholstered in fine suiting wool inside Brioni's factory in Penne, Italy - a high-end laboratory that has only, up until now, produced clothing. The cone shaped lamp is covered in a cotton normally reserved for men's shirting. 'We've given a su misura experience to the [installation] and tailored a beautiful, almost second-skin suit to its realisation,' says Mullane.
In line with Wallpaper's Handmade mission, the project reveals what can happen when talent and know-how is cross-pollinated across various disciplines. 'What was most interesting was that both Brendan and I share the same philosophy and approach even though he comes from fashion and I from design,' says Anastassiades. 'We both have the same appreciation for high quality.'
An obsession for high quality dominates the 1,200 sq m store. Designed by local architectural firm Studio Park Associati, all three floors of the space are wrapped in bronzed brass trimmings, 'cannucciato' ribbed Bahia wood, Eramosa marble and Navona travertine floors. Furniture includes Poltrona Frau armchairs and Ruckstuhl rugs, along with chairs and lamps designed by Studio Park and produced exclusively by Driade.
Six full-time tailors are employed inside the space to offer bespoke services using traditional, hand-crafted techniques. At the same time, Brioni has jumped into the high-speed digital world by launching Virtual Mirror, a technology system that allows Brioni clients to simulate and visualise suits in thousands of fabric and colour variations on a virtual mannequin. Rolling out in three phases, the platform will eventually allow clients to actually view their own image in a 3D mirror, wearing the clothes themselves.