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Rome Showroom.
Photography by Dondup.

Dondup were one of the five denim pillars” in Italy during the 90s. LVMH invested in them and the CEO wanted a new concept for the Rome store. They bought this retro warehouse next to the canal in Rome and wanted something which would hopefully translate into a shop concept later down the line.

They’re a big brand with a very different buying season to the traditional fashion season; it may go on for five or six months with hundreds of buyers through their showroom year-round. There could be 35 teams of different buyers in the space at any time as well as their army of 12 full-time models who are constantly changing there so the design had to maximise display space and provide separate seating areas.

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Rome Showroom.
Photography by Dondup.

We looked at every kind of the denim – stonewash, ripped, heavily laundered in lots of blues, acid yellows, greens in their Pantone – to create a complementary back drop of earthy tones for the architecture and the furniture. We looked at distressed, weathered materials — concrete, rusty metals. The space had a beautiful angular concrete frame, lovely gridded metal windows and the canal view on the outside, so we cleaned up the concrete, and in five days it was transformed. We laid beautiful concrete tiles of two metres across the whole floor and created these models of oxidised steels as the frame point for the furniture and the rails where the clothes could be divided up into a section of stores. The materials were very simple — brushed brass, and a little cute detail point, like the rivet in denim, in every piece of furniture. It was all designed to act as a complementary backdrop to the varied denim collections on display. The bespoke display units were designed to be modular for flexibility.

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Rome Showroom.
Photography by Dondup.

They were freestanding and could be arranged in a multitude of different ways. There was also a series of desks for the buyers – all kit they could play with. It’s not a big space at 600 square metres so the rails were mobile. It was such a big success that we did another one in Milan. A whole new brand image was created which will be followed by the roll-out of a new store concept consistent with Sybarite’s showroom identity that they’re selling to partners and franchisees around the world.

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Rome Showroom.
Photography by Dondup.