Unwrapping a Gift

Italian luxury retailer Coscia exports whimsy and surprise to its new Shenzhen, China, store
Posted February 23, 2015

Surrounded by several five-star hotels, and adjacent to the largest convention center in China, the Italian-based luxury retailer Coscia targets a concentrated population of affluent consumers. The 38,000 square-foot store that opened last June in Shenzhen, China, is strategically positioned at the entry of the Wongtee Plaza mall; its debut in the Chinese market showcases 11 luxury brands, including Gucci, Armani, Zegna, Dior and Saint Laurent.

Relatively new to high-end fashion, executives at Coscia wanted to create a memorable shopping experience, fit to appeal to their new clientele. In support of their brand image, they partnered with Storeage Shanghai, sister company of the Amsterdam-based retail design firm, to give the city of Shenzhen a beautiful gift.

The design concept started with the idea of regalo – loosely translated, the Italian word means “unwrapping a surprise.” According to Leendert Tange, managing director at Storeage, the concept of regalo led to the overall design solution. “We wanted to go wild in this store – stylish, but wild,” says Tange. “Many luxury retailers forget that a smile is the most beautiful luxury one can offer to their customers.”

While the overall environment is a projection of the Coscia brand, the various fashion names are immediately recognizable, with each name emblazoned on a meandering ribbon suspended below the ceiling line. Additionally, each fashion brand is announced by a large-scale display case prominently highlighting the collection.

The store’s open floor plan – free of walls and built-out interior architecture – relies on the ribbon-shaped ceiling detail above and distinctive flooring changes below to serve as unifying elements pulling the space together. The floor, featuring three colors of marble, is evocative of a giant piece of wrapping paper, while the framing ribbon above completes the package. An array of wallpaper, paint, metal and soft-fabric surface treatments offer diverse tonalities and textures to each individual brand experience.

Focal points along the main aisle feature a sculptural menagerie of full-sized animals, inspired by the works of artist Francois Xavier Lalanne. Tange adds, “We wanted to introduce humor to the environment in the form of the animals.” Designed to invite people to touch the luxury offerings, while integrating art into the environment, these artistically rendered, sculptural animals double as highlight display cases. (The original concept centered around a grouping of penguins carrying evening dresses in their beaks.)

An eclectic mix of contemporary furniture is placed throughout the environment, keeping with the mood and aesthetic sensibilities of the in-store luxury brands. All furniture items are carefully curated with appropriate fabrics, shapes and upholstery one would expect from the likes of Gucci, Ferragamo or Saint Laurent.

Seventy-three percent of the store’s total sales volume is driven by Coscia Suites, the store’s VIP area. Featuring a champagne lounge, where one can enjoy a flute of Moët Hennessy, the VIP area can accommodate a couple of customers or a large private party. Accessories and apparel are loosely merchandised throughout for a low-key, relaxed shopping experience. The majority of shopping in this section is done via tables where the consumer can select items of their liking. The store’s private shoppers then pull together various looks, presented in generous 10-foot-diameter fitting rooms, comfortably furnished in soft fabrics and carpets. Catering to husbands or boyfriends, the VIP area also boasts a cigar room where rare and exceptional wines and cigars are sold.

Coscia’s gift to Shenzhen is a holistically designed luxury destination, sure to put a smile on the faces of all who enter. 

Coscia, Caserta, Italy

Design and Architecture
Storeage, Shanghai, Amsterdam; Leendert Tange, managing director; Martijn Hoogendijk, design director; senior designers: Ian Clarke, Maria Lucas; Germans Ermics, graphic designer; Li Kang, account director; Xiang Chen, project manager.

General Contractor
Kingsmen Shanghai Co. Ltd., Shanghai

Photography: Richard Cadan, Fairfield, Conn.