Fashion shop i2 FashionFrankfurt am Main 2013
Crown jewels in a cage and safe
Bars all around, and a designer safe in the middle for the most beautiful shoes. At i2 Fashion, the masterpieces are carefully guarded. The shop interior makes reference to the banking city of Frankfurt, the financial heart of Germany. This innovative concept was devised by the Dutch designer Maurice Mentjens, whose work is heavily based on symbolism and associations.
Frankfurt has a new fashion shop: i2 Fashion. This high-end fashion shop is located on Alte Rothofstrasse, a side street of the famous Goethestraße. With top brands such asLouboutin, Balmain, Gucci, Lanvin, Dolce & Gabbana, Zanotti, Prada, Valentino, Saint Laurent, Fendi, Givenchy, Todʼs, Jimmy Choo, D-Squared and Victoria Beckham, the collection at this new store fits in perfectly within this exclusive shopping district. The owner, Iman Hesso, approached Maurice Mentjens for an interior design of a likewise elite level.
The symbolism of a safe
The designer Maurice Mentjens, who lives and works in the Euregio Meuse-Rhine, is also known as a 'designer of the imagination.' All his architecture projects involve the quest for a 'sense of place’, the identity of the place or environment. This is then translated into a unique ambiance through the media of symbolism. Frankfurt am Main is of course characterized by its role as a financial centre. It is also one of the few European cities dominated by skyscrapers, which has resulted in it gaining the nickname 'Mainhattan'.
This business focus, together with the fact that i2 Fashion is housed in the lower floors of a bank building (Sparkassen- und Giroverband Hessen-Thüringen), formed the conceptual basis. 'Clothing and shoes are more valuable than money for many fashion-conscious women' says Mentjens. 'Fashion objects are their real treasures. The idea therefore emerged to design the shop as a bank vault, with valuable goods kept safely behind steel bars.'
In the elaboration of the design, this conceptual reference is connected with practical aspects. The steel railings of the cage construction that fills the entire space also serve as convenient clothes racks. The theme of the bar-like grid extends throughout the premises, running along the walls, over the windows, and around the iconic spiral staircase behind the façade. In some spots, the linear image is repeated endlessly by means of reflections in mirrors. Even inside the fitting cubicles, the clothes rails are reflected into infinity in the two dressing mirrors opposite each other. 'It is as if you step from a full shop into a completely empty shop - a seemingly parallel world.' This is one of the intriguing 3-D transformations so characteristic of the Maurice Mentjens signature.
The shop interior of the ground floor (women's department) and first floor (men's department) is almost identical. The long, rectangular floor tiles in a satinized concrete look match perfectly with the wealth of stainless steel used, giving the shop as a whole an urban feel. In order to preserve this minimalistic character, the tapered spaces contain understated furnishings with monolithic Corian display units. The area of the fitting cubicles features a round seating element, a simple silver-grey lozenge shape. Thanks to the reflective sheeting, the fitting cubicles themselves seem to blend in seamlessly with the long wall and its clothes racks.
The crowning glory is the treasure chamber in the centre of the room. This reflective display case unveils the 'crown jewels': the collection's most special shoes. It is a special design by Patrick Baden, a graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Maastricht specializing in Jewellery & Product Design. His portfolio now also includes luxurious 'designer safes,' produced in limited editions by Carus safes.
Made to measure
The design of i2 Fashion has been one of the most exciting jobs that Maurice Mentjens has done, not least because of the enthusiasm of Iman Hesso and her partner Patrick Baden. 'She has a flamboyant and very distinct taste; a real Bird-of-Paradise who also attaches great importance to impeccable quality.'
Besides the LED lighting, almost everything has been custom-made especially for the shop. For instance, the load-bearing column of the sculptural spiral staircase has the same diameter as the other columns in the shop and structure. The i of i2 Fashion is also seen in the door handle design. The clothes racks made of bars and railings are also sophisticated works of art. Although no assembly aids are visible, the horizontal tubes can be removed from the uprights to create a different layout. To this end, Maurice Mentjens developed a smart locking system whereby the locking pin can only be operated by means of a strong magnet. Ultra-minimalistic yet flexible - the ultimate detailing.