Via Manzoni, Milan, Italy

We decided with Paul Smith that each flagship store should have a distinct character reflecting the city in which it is situated. This would give us the freedom to vary and develop the architecture within the Paul Smith idiom. So long as sites can be found that are typical of their city, mixing the character of the place with Paul’s wide-reaching and eccentric ideas should give the flagship stores individuality. 

In London, Westbourne House is in a grand stucco townhouse in a smart but bohemian residential district. In Milan, Paul Smith at the Palazzo Gallarati Scotti is set within a vast 18th century palace facing onto the noisy streets of Milan.

The store is in double-height rooms and galleries around a former cloistered courtyard. There are intimate spaces as well as dramatic views from the upper level. The idiosyncrasies of the old building are accentuated, original details are restored and new architectural elements fit loosely within this space. New walls are built as illuminated glass panels to contrast with the old walls which have been re-plastered in the traditional italian way with an extra measure of pink in the mix for vibrancy.

The original worn and cracked terrazzo floor was kept and junctions with new, brighter pink terrazzo are delineated using mosaic. A new terrazzo stair is suspended from a hanging glass panel. Display cabinets are simple glass boxes held in steel straps. Antique furniture was bought for its decrepit beauty and transformed by juxtaposition with unexpected materials and inserts of glass. 

All elements from the architecture to the furniture and fittings were designed or sourced by Sophie Hicks Architects.

Project featured on:

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  • Custom Made, 2006 Absolutely Fabulous, Prestel Verlag Publishers, 2006
  • Flagship Stores, Loft Publishers, 2008

Photograps by Lee Funnell (1, 7, 10 and 11) and Phil Sayer