Sandra Weil Couture - flagship store by Zeller & Moye
Sandra Weil, Brazilian fashion designer on-the-rise, opened her first flagship this past December in the heart of Mexico City’s Polanco district, an upscale neighborhood home to numerous luxury-label retailers. To craft a concept slightly off the beaten path, Sandra Weil Couture (Mexico City) tapped architecture firm Zeller & Moye (Mexico City).
Creating a luxe look on a tight budget was a challenge the architects were able to meet by designing each detail internally and sourcing local craftsmen to bring the materials to life. Through these measures, they were able to significantly cut costs while supporting area workers.
To visually correct the architectural flaws in the existing space, parallel, repeating, vertical wooden louvers were implemented in the 540-square-foot store, masking its crooked floorplan, columns and structural walls that otherwise couldn’t be hidden. Weil’s high-end dresses are merchandised between the timber planks to dually serve as a fashionable, functional space-saver. The wooden curtain formed by the slats provides privacy for customers inside, preventing full views from the bustling street, while still allowing shoppers to peek out from the interior – a must-have request from Sandra Weil herself.
“You’re protected in a way. I’m thinking of the bride who’s selecting her dress – obviously she wants to have a bit more of an intimate experience,” says Christoph Zeller, architect, principal, Zeller & Moye. “It’s almost like a cocoon from the city.”
A tropical wood native to Mexico called banak, typically used to make furniture, was chosen as the store’s primary material for its warm color and soft feel. The wood was left untreated to complement the minimalist aesthetic of Weil’s designs. A darker Mexican wood was sourced for the flooring, also untreated, to create a variation in tone and hide visible marks from foot traffic.
The lighting is affixed in clusters, rather than a uniform pattern, to draw shoppers through the labyrinth created by the space’s segmented shape, while bright LEDs clearly illuminate apparel in the shop’s niches. Custom-designed and fabricated copper accents, including garment rails, hangers, drop lighting and furniture, hint at the brand’s understated opulence and evoke the glamour of bygone architecture.
“We found that copper conveys a certain degree of luxury that, say, stainless steel doesn’t have,” explains Zeller. “We wanted to have something that you [could] associate with older buildings [rather] than with contemporary architecture. The color gives it a little bit of a twist.”
The architects approached the store’s concept without preconceived notions of typical retail design, and plotted out their ideas on a physical model throughout the process to test the design’s functionality.
“We have very different approaches [than those of] professionals who strictly focus on store design. We are architects. We design spaces, moods and enclosures,” Zeller says. “It sounds very basic, but as architects, we don’t think, ‘What can we present inside the space?’ We think, ‘What’s the visitor experiencing in that space; how does it have to function?’ Functionality comes first.”
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