Christofleâ€™s new Beverly Hills flagship
The founders of Christofle (Paris), the venerable French silver company, didnâ€™t consider the impact of â€œbrandingâ€ and â€œcustomer engagementâ€ back in 1813 when they began producing the classic creations that have graced the tables of royalty and dining rooms onboard luxurious transatlantic ocean liners and in todayâ€™s finest restaurants.
But they must have instinctively understood the value of these attributes or they wouldnâ€™t be thriving today, more than 200 years later. They even had a corporate logo â€“ a bee emblem that marked each piece â€“ a regal symbol of the French empire.
To this day, the humble insect distinguishes Christofleâ€™s one-of-a-kind pieces and is carried through the design of the companyâ€™s new Beverly Hills, Calif., flagship.
The elegant, modern boutique showcases Chistofleâ€™s sterling, silver-plate and stainless flatware in an intimate, homey space that encourages customers to leisurely and carefully consider what is often a major purchase intended to last a lifetime and to be handed down to future generations.
StÃ©phane Parmentier, creative director, Christofle, envisioned a fresh, updated expression of the brandâ€™s classic aesthetic for the west coast store. (He designed the companyâ€™s New York store as well, in addition to stores in London, Shanghai and Hong Kong.)
Partnering with Shawmut Design and Construction (Los Angeles) and Oâ€™Neil Langan Architects (New York), Parmentier created a jewel box-like space that showcases Christofleâ€™s extensive line and includes crystal vases and glassware, porcelain dinnerware and sculptures created especially for the flagship.
The narrow 1005-square-foot space was remodeled over a period of 12 weeks with the team working around the clock due to city restrictions on daytime construction. Also, the small size of the shop dictated that only a few workers were able to be onsite per shift.
The focal point of the store is a long, back-lit, bronze communal table set with flatware, providing a more personalized and interactive experience for customers, a first for the company. â€œI really love the communal table,â€ Parmentier says. â€œItâ€™s an important tool for Christofle because it represents welcoming family and friends, in addition to being a very functional and elegant way to display our flatware.â€
Custom features include a display wall that incorporates interlocking pieces to create honeycomb-shaped shelves that subtly reference Christofleâ€™s bee emblem. Properly lighting the nooks was critical, Parmentier says. â€œThe light couldnâ€™t be too cold or too warm, otherwise the silver would have looked like gold. It was very tricky to find that balance.â€
The storeâ€™s Los Angeles locale is reflected in furnishings sourced at local vintage shops and art dealers. â€œWe try to find the soul of each shop, a personal identity,â€ Parmentiere says. â€œA shop must be pragmatic â€“ its purpose is to sell the product â€“ but for me a shop without an artistic feeling is lifeless. So we always [strive for] both the practical and the artistic.â€
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