Project Name
Fornarina

Location
London

Square Footage
1,700

Architect
Giorgio Borruso Design

Client
Fornarina

Credits

Architect of Record
Studio 2000

Project Manager
Buzzoni

Photographer
Benny Chan/Fotoworks

Millwork, Furniture & Fixtures
Buzzoni

Resin Flooring
Buzzoni

Giorgio Borruso Design has become renowned for the surreal spaces it creates for retailers. The firm posits that customers themselves are on display in such a space, surrounded by strange, oversized organic shapes. In the Fornarina flagship in London, the architect wanted to create the feel of customers being “swallowed whole” as they entered the store's glowing interior — a sharp contrast from its relatively staid exterior. To make the most of the constrained site, Borruso Design created a backlit membrane with 1,300 feet of LEDs that can change color to shift the mood in the selling space. A selling wall featuring molded polycarbonite elements held in place by industrial strength magnets, meanwhile, can display up to 300 shoes at a time. The $1.7-million space's most dominant feature is a central curvilinear staircase that connects the store's two levels. Described as “resembling the segmented exoskeleton of a trilobite,” the staircase is made from metacrylic components and weighs a massive five tons. SADI judges lauded the space for being “totally immersive“ and for having “a lot of ‘wow’ factor.” Another judge commented that Fornarina is “a compelling immersive and memorable shopping experience that delivers the brand mission of creating a dreamlike, multisensory experience.” Besides being deemed the best entry in its category, judges also unanimously selected the project as the Grand SADI winner because they felt that it, out of all the projects, most exemplified “Superior Achievement in Design and Imaging.“ It is the one project that the judges pointed to that didn't feel like something they'd seen before. While they lauded other projects in the competition for executing on difficult design problems or being flawless examples of how to create a lifestyle center, only Fornarina jumped out as something that could be labeled ‘revolutionary.’