Portfolio: Galeries Lafayette, Istanbul

The department store made its debut in the region this past May
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Posted November 13, 2017

The storied Paris department store retailer made its debut in Istanbul this past May, continuing to expand its reach beyond the French capital. In partnership with local retail holdings company, Demsa Group (Istanbul), and located at the bustling Emaar Square Mall, the 102,257-square-foot destination features Parisian allusions gilded in Turkish opulence.

In the beginning phases of the project, the space was an empty box, says CEO Alexander Plajer of Plajer & Franz Studio (Berlin), the firm charged with creating the Istanbul outpost. Without escalators or a clear wayfinding path, the design team started from scratch.

Contrasting materials like wood and natural stone, as well as bronze and other reflective metals, call attention to specific points of interest throughout. A mix of sandblasted glass and wood partitions separate brands along the main walkway, and decorative luminaires highlight attractions. Originating from various French flea markets, vintage 1950s, ’60s and ’70s furniture and decor complement the contemporary interior stylings.

“It’s not as big as some department stores,” says Plajer. “And this is a new trend with department stores – making them smaller. Before, size mattered, and now it’s more about quality and service.”

The locale features engaging services, including the women’s department program, “Get Ready in 30 Minutes!”, where she can get a hair blowout, polished nails and makeup application in about half an hour, so she’s ready for a night on the town.

An ornate dome in the space’s 65-foot-wide atrium was created by the design team out of laser-cut, polished stainless steel prisms using a machine that applies 80 tons of pressure to shape materials. The finished dome is reminiscent of the iconic cupola at the brand’s Paris flagship on Boulevard Haussmann.

With each step a customer takes through the space, says Plajer, light bounces off the prisms in different ways, providing exciting visual intrigue.

“It’s not a [digital] image that you need to change, it’s a static installation, but the reflection is very nice,” explains Plajer. “When you pass by on the escalator, the stainless steel surface reflects all the colors from the fashion nearby. Every step you go, the color changes, and it’s really beautiful.”