When it came to Nancy Gonzalez's new Icon boutique within Harrods' historic Egyptian Room, president and creative director Santiago Gonzalez knew exactly what he wanted: 'I knew which brands were surrounding us and thought, if I'm going to be in the middle of a marble quarry with Fendi, Céline and Saint Laurent all in marble, I need to look warm and rich,' explains the avid art collector.
Juggling the restrictions defined by the store's iconic pillars, Gonzalez decided to use the same approach that he had recently applied to a four-year restoration of his 16th century, UNESCO protected home in Cartagena, also anchored by columns. 'We wanted to dress around them, but not touch them,' he says. 'We looked at Eileen Gray's screens as a starting point,' he continues, describing the late Irish furniture designer's artful dividers as the ideal concept to masterfully guide traffic through his shop-in-shop.
With this spatial notion in mind, Gonzalez worked with long-time collaborator Rawlins Design to conceive the 700 sq ft space, exploring the 'rich materials of the Art Deco era', fused with the 'dynamic forms of the Italian futurist art movement' to create a shop-able installation.
American artist Michele Oka Doner (who's often referred to as 'nature's scribe'), was then commissioned to create a series of 16 sculptural screens inspired by natural textures and cast in 24 carat gold. The snaking divider's open lacework similarly reference the house's exotic skinned accoutrements that are scattered along the piece's gilt and glass-shelved arms. 'It has to look good as a sculpture from every side,' he remarks, running a hand over the smooth honeycomb-like structure. Lit with miniature LED lights to exude a golden baroque glow, Gonzalez adds that he was inspired by the light and art movement of California.
To complete the installation, a stepped, circular centerpiece devised of seven interlocking pedestals has similarly been fashioned from rosewood, solid bronze and illuminated glass - materials that may also serve within Gonzalez's next art-fuelled flagships, scheduled to open in Dubai and Macau in 2015.