Text description provided by the architects. La Rinascente is a historic department store on Milan’s Piazza Duomo which was remodelled in 2007 by a series of architects under the stewardship of Vittorio Radice, who made his name with landmark buildings for British department store Selfridges.
Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands remodelled La Rinascente’s top floor, creating an open space which houses a grocery market, stand-alone food concessions and a restaurant, guiding users around the space with a trapezium floor plan and maximising views to the Duomo. The standout feature is a three dimensional back-lit ceiling – a bespoke solution inspired by honeycomb which adds sunshine throughout the day and drama at dusk. The ceiling is made up of a frame of aluminium extrusions, the concealed fluorescent light fittings shining on to the soffit and bouncing back down through the translucent panels to create a diffuse light. The effect of undulation and depth is achieved through the use of four types of triangular panel with four visible facets, so that the shoppers experience a different effect each time they view the ceiling. All the triangular elements point towards the front of the store ensuring an appropriate dynamism.
The project represents a natural progression from the firm's previous retail and restaurant work. Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands recently completed designs for the new Lane Crawford department store in Hong Kong, and is responsible for the acclaimed top-floor restaurants at the OXO Tower on London's South Bank and at Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge, Manchester and Edinburgh. In Milan the practice worked with restaurant consultant Dominic Ford of Ford McDonald Consultancy, thus reconstituting the team behind those successful UK projects.
Paul Sandilands, Director of Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands said, “This project presented a fantastic opportunity to create a new shopping and restaurant facility at the flagship store of one of Italy’s foremost fashion retailers and in a most amazing location with views just waiting to be experienced.”