Theatrical history informs Storagemilano's overhaul of Bally showroom in Milan
Gold doorways, amphitheatre-style display shelves and velvet furnishings appear in fashion label Bally's showroom in Milan, which Italian studio Storagemilano has designed to hint at the building's dramatic past.
The 2,400 square-metre Bally showroom occupies a corner plot in Milan's Porta Venezia district, displaying the luxury fashion brand's seasonal collections at ground level and accommodating its communications, design, and merchandising employees in offices on the upper three floors.
At the turn of the 20th-century the building had operated as a theatre, before becoming a cinema in 1925 that eventually closed in the late 1980s.
Local studio Storagemilano were told to keep this history in mind when revamping the interiors, which are now opulently decked out in luxurious materials like marble, brass, and velvet.
"The emphasis was placed on retaining key elements from the past, whilst linking them to contemporary and modern attitudes of intervention," explained Bally.
Visitors access the building through a domed foyer, which is anchored by a huge rust-red marble counter. A ring-shaped chandelier composed of neon letters that spell out the brand's name is suspended at the centre of the ceiling.
While the space's existing brick surfaces have simply been freshened up with a coat of white paint, the studio has replaced the formally dark-tinted windows with frameless panels of glass to let in more natural light and allow passersby to look in from the street outside.
"The entrance was designed as a gallery space with a rotating display of new works – connecting with the community and providing a window into Bally," added the brand. "This is the foyer of our theatre."
The same coloured marble is used to create a bench seat and to frame the space's three gold doorways, which are centred by tall panels of brass that can be pivoted to reveal or conceal the inner showroom.
Here, shoes are presented on stepped shelving blocks that are meant to emulate the seating in an amphitheatre. Crafted from fibre concrete and built on wheels, the blocks can be moved around to create different display "scenes".
As clothes are hung on slim brass rails that line the peripheral walls, the centre of the room is dotted with large chest of drawers upholstered in rich, egg yolk-coloured fabric. Grey marble-topped tables and chairs designed by French architect Jean Prouvé have also been used to dress the space.
Blush-pink velvet rugs are placed at several points across the floor as a subtle visual nod to the heavy velvet curtains typically drawn across a theatre's stage before a performance begins.
Earlier this year high-end fashion label Calvin Klein opened a striking showroom in Paris, which featured paint-splashed ceilings and a huge hanging sculpture composed of pompoms, fringing, and chrome buckets.
Photography is by Alberto Strada.