Merchants of Luxury: Dolce & Gabbana’s New Stores

Eric Carlsen of Carbondale has recently created two new stores for luxury fashion brand Dolce & Gabbana—one in Venice, Italy, and another in Monte Carlo, Monaco. But put them side by side and you’d never know it was all the work of one person. In Venice, a historical interior design with local palatial references and craftsmanship felt right. In Monte Carlo, contemporary sleekness meets Italian baroque. Yet both carry the spirit of D&G.

Last autumn, Dolce & Gabbana announced its abandonment of a homogenous approach to retail, and embarked on evolving its global stores worldwide, with each one featuring unique design.

Venice, Italy

Dolce & Gabbana’s palatial new store in Venice is among the first fruits of an alternative retail direction for the Italian fashion house. The Venetian design draws on both D&G’s heritage and the unique architecture of the city.

“In the past, we’ve done different things with elements of stores, like facades or layouts, but to say everything is different in every [Dolce & Gabbana] store, is very radical,” explains the Carbondale founder Eric Carlson, who designed the Venice boutique. Reflecting the house’s own multifaceted aesthetic – one that blends Sicilian baroque with flourishes of humour, and cartoonish prints with sensual silhouettes – its design reflects a play on details from history and modernity.

“One of the things we learned about Dolce & Gabbana, was its approach to striking contrast: the clashes of ideas and colour, and the modern with the baroque,” says the US-born, Paris-based architect. The entrance to the boutique is a celebration of Venetian mercantile craftsmanship. Its floors are paved in multi-coloured inlays of ancient marble, while the walls are adorned with wooden bas-reliefs depicting scenes of the city’s artisanal and commercial life during the late 19th century.

The 800 square meter boutique is located on one of the main shopping streets — a busy passageway to Piazza San Marco. The design enhances the elegance of venetian culture preserved in the 1880s Palazzo Torres.

Monte Carlo, Monaco

Close to the sea, in one of the most symbolic places of the Principality of Monaco, Dolce&Gabbana is opening a boutique for Men and Women in Monte-Carlo. Near the famous Casino and Café de Paris, the space is a self-contained world of sophistication, luxury and fine tailoring.

Occupying a total surface of 800 square metres on three levels, the shop’s structure and furnishings create a unique experience, combining Dolce & Gabbana’s unmistakable elegance and style with the glamorous atmosphere of the Côte d’Azur.

“For the Monte-Carlo boutique we drew inspiration from the elegance, luxury and charm of the city itself. We like the idea that those who enter the shop feel immersed in the glamourous atmosphere of the Côte d’Azur: a magical place, a holiday destination renowned the world over. And we are delighted to continue our Grand Tour here”.

“To design a place fitting for Dolce & Gabbana and their “jet set” clientele in the Principality of Monaco is to create a paradise of opulence and exclusivity. I started by defining sharp, crisp, pure geometric spaces, then lined their surfaces with contrasting rich polished pink quartz stone, black marble, and vast planes of beveled mirrors to produce a luminous effervescent architectural orchestra of reflections… it’s magical, a triumph of beauty”.

Renowned for their extensive research and strategy based design process, Carbondale has compiled a 600 page “bible” that outlines how an in-depth understanding of the client and context provides rich and genuine foundations for the creative process as well as assures the credibility and quality of the final project, this commitment to the “exceptional” is what makes Carbondale’s collaboration with their clients special.