Valextra, the Italian luxury leather goods brand based in Milan, has opened a store in the chic enclave of Bal Harbour at the northern tip of Miami Beach, Florida. Designed by New York and Tucson-based Aranda/Lasch, the 90 sq m interior is inspired by the entryways of Milan’s palazzo’s: gates, lobbies and corridors connecting the indoors with outdoors.
‘Valextra is rooted in its Milanese history, the detailing of their products is unparalleled in its execution,’ says Benjamin Aranda of Aranda/Lasch. ‘They are sophisticated in their understatement, but at the same time sensual in their colours and patterns.’
This Milanese tradition serves as the direction for the store’s design and material explorations.
Visitors first encounter the design approach in the facade, which is clad in the city’s signature porous stone, Ceppo di Gre.
Inside, the store reinterprets the fundamental elements of a classic palazzo lobby: marbles, metals, rare wood and reflective surfaces, all presented in a combination of sophistication and abstraction.
The collections are presented on stone pedestals, which use Arzo marble blocks (the same material which can be found in the Via Manzoni flagship in Milan), floating on a light metal mesh. ‘The metal is a common industrial material made graceful through a reflective polish and meticulous detailing,’ explain the design team. ‘The heavy Italian stones appear to be floating on a net.’
Monolithic marble shelves flank the space and provide a cantilevered surface for display and storage of Valextra’s small leather goods.
One distinctive feature of the store is a long metal coil used to organise the leather products.
Beyond this, at the rear of the store, is a display designed as two wing walls, clad in Alpi laminate by Ettore Sottsass. The composition is typical of Aranda/Lasch: geometric modules whose repetition creates an effect reminiscent of crystals and minerals.
To complete the space, a fabric ceiling softens the light alongside hidden spotlights, a combination typical to a museum or art gallery.
‘Overall, there is a simplicity in the details with a maximum material impact,’ says Aranda/Lasch. ‘It is an environment that is contemporary and flexible, fluid and refined, that emphasises the small Valextra masterpieces as exemplars of Milanese craft.’
Photography: Robin Hill