Location: Munich, Germany
Project Team: Eric Carlson / Director, Pierre Tortrat / Associate, Valérie Vaudoyer / Project Architect
Local Architect: Jan Hehenberger, Munich, Germany
Building contractor: Gerhard P. Wirth, Nürnberg, Germany
Contractors: Franck Franjou, Paris / Lighting consultant – Abisz, Velen Germany / Furniture Contractor – Films Hors Ecran, Paris / Audio Video Consultant – Thalweg, Montreuil / Landscape Consultant, Pur-Metall, Hohenbrunn Germany / Metal
Project Area: 2,000 sqm
Project Year: 2008
Photographs: Jimmy Cohrssen
The new headquarters building for the fashion brand ESCADA will receive each season hundreds of visitors from all over the world over to unveil their latest collection. ESCADA commissioned the Parisian studio CARBONDALE to design the architectural “public face” including the entry façade, entry court, interior courtyard, lobby and furniture totaling 2,000 sqm.
The 3 main spaces, the entry court, lobby and interior courtyard spaces are visually aligned with transparent facades to form an immense 75meter long runway that flows through the center of the building. The ground plane of each of the 3 areas is uniquely inscribed with succession of linear bands serving to unify and give rhythm to the formal entry procession. At the entry court these stripes are composed of two textures of concrete for the walkway and 4 species of flowering plants. Each plant species takes turns blossoming in correspondence with each of the 4 climatic & fashion seasons. The 4 different flowering colors, red, white, pink and violet are the first device to transform the visitor’s experience. At the interior courtyard the stripe composition alternates between bands of grass and concrete paving. The combination of mineral and vegetal materials practically allows for punctual usage without damage, yet visually when perceived perpendicularly from the lobby the courtyard appears completely green. Inside the lobby the stripes are manifested in the flooring through varying sized bands of polished concrete and polished aluminum and in the ceiling with irregularly positioned full-length lighting gorges.
The open 600m2 lobby interior is interspersed with 5 boxes like objects extending from floor-to-ceiling varying in size, tone and function. The first “box” is the entry vestibule, lined with a white lacquer paravent, suggestive of folding screens used for changing clothes. The large central “box” contains the reception and the small 2-level box contains the public elevator. Two additional “inverted boxes” are recessed wall alcoves which signal the entries into the showroom and restaurant spaces.
Each of these 5 box elements along with 2 central columns are wrapped in an extraordinary and inventive surface composed of vertical blades of polished, linished and brushed stainless steel mounted in an irregular zig-zag pattern. Inspired by the pattern made by dressmaking scissors, this unique triangular facetted profile is also sculpted into the custom wool carpet and leather furniture. Rather than simply applying color to distinguish the different “boxes” CARBONDALE expresses the material by tinted the stainless steel in silver, light-gold, gun metal blue, and bronze.
Notorious for burring the limits between architecture and furniture design, CARBONDALE created the seating area in the proportions of a super-stretch limousine wrapped in matt black leather. The 12meter long seating-table element is composed of an enormous floating slab enveloped in angular undulating leather from which three seating areas are carved out and capped in a continuous serpentine backrest.
To further animate the pure geometric lobby a 4.5meter high vertical video is positioned next to the showroom alcove reflecting and fragmenting the larger-than-life runway models. The giant screen is composed of 8 vertically mounted frameless plasma screens synchronized to display a single seamless moving image.
The robust linear of architectural surfaces create an ephemeral composition of textures and reflections that render the Escada headquarters both modern and luxurious conveying the essence of the brand.