It used to be that fine jewellery houses preferred an identikit boutique design of dark, intimate interiors lined with dusty museum-like showcases – all the better, they reckoned, to let quality gemstones shine. Since Peter Marino was invited to apply his golden touch to watch and jewellery boutiques across the globe for the likes of Chanel, Graff and Bulgari, the industry has been persuaded that jewels sparkle all the more if the environment reflects their patrons’ modern aspirations.
Hence, the arrival of Jaime Hayon’s contemporary grand salon for Nirav Modi’s New Delhi flagship, Patricia Urquiola’s pared-back luxury for Panerai and David Collins Studio’s sumptuous modernism for De Grisogono. Adding to that prestigious list is the London jeweller David Morris, which has worked with the former sculptor and furniture designer Eugene Brunelle to design its first boutique beyond the UK – in Paris.
While the exterior is an innocuous addition to the Rue Saint-Honoré’s Eastern string of noisy fashion façades, inside the boutique is a soothing balm of architectural purity, its somewhat futuristic feel made even more gorgeous by the choice of exquisitely quiet materials. Gold-infused copper vitrines, alabaster doors, metallic-weave coverings and walnut consoles amount to a subtly elegant luxury. ‘The keen eye for detail, innovative use of materials and the colours are a perfect reflection of our house DNA,’ confirms Jeremy Morris, managing director of the storied London jeweller.
The three-storey boutique is joined by a stone staircase with an inlaid alabaster handrail which, softly backlit, emanates a filmic glamour. The alabaster floor-to-ceiling doors on the ground floor, meanwhile, are edged in faceted rock crystal – a detail only apparent when the doors are opened. Awkward spaces become rich highlights, illuminated by long oval mirrors. The overall feel is of a soft, calming light permeating the boutique and its naturally luminescent gems.
Brunelle also designed the furniture – desks and chairs in light woods, with a modern but starkly minimalist 1930s feel. Traditional techniques were key: classic cabinetry, patinated steel and specially commissioned rose-tinted copper plating for the frames of the jewellery showcases. It’s interesting to learn that Brunelle collaborated with Hermès for over a decade, creating window designs, interiors and event staging for the French maison. It shows.
In opening the Paris boutique, David Morris had a vision to create ‘a new architectural environment’. In choosing Bruenelle the jeweller has unveiled a new take on the display of precious stones. In redefining the jewellery buying experience for modern tastes, the British jeweller is questioning that age-old belief that ‘prized treasures be concealed behind closed doors’.