It may be small but it is perfectly formed... Oozing luxury with mirrors, precious metals, crystals and bespoke fabric and furniture pieces, this little perfume and candle store in Manhattan is the second project for Diptyque by London’s Jenner Studio
Project: Diptyque store, New York
Design: Jenner Studio
Size: 34 sq m
Completion time:Nine months
If, as Mark Twain said, Americans are ‘the most luxury-loving people on the earth,’ then the residents of New York should find plenty to satisfy them at the Manhattan store of Parisian perfumer and maker of scented candles, Diptyque. Candles and fine fragrances aside, the luxurious interior, by British design practice Jenner Studio, is worth a visit on its own.
Jenner Studio had worked with the company before on its concession at London department store Liberty, and the project was so successful that Diptyque gave the designer carte blanche for the renovation of its New York store.
‘We got this project on the back of our work for Liberty, and how we captured the brand and moved away from the preconceived idea of what luxury is,’ says Jenner Studio’s creative director Christopher Jenner.
The interior of the store on Manhattan’s cherry-tree-lined Bleeker Street is a lesson in luxuriousness, replete as it is with the finest materials and exquisite craftsmanship, but Jenner was careful also to represent the heritage of the brand in the design, and reference the store’s location in New York City.
‘For me it was really about discovering the brand history, finding the true essence of that brand and what that really represents,’ says Jenner. ‘Diptyque had drifted away from its beginnings, so this project was about rediscovering and reinvigorating that.’
Founded in 1961 by three friends – painter Desmond Knox-Leet, set designer Yves Coueslant, and Christiane Gautrot, who was working in an architecture practice – Diptyque originally produced printed fabrics, so Jenner decided to take some of those original prints and incorporate them into designs for bespoke wallpaper and fabric.
The designers also used the kind of traditional Mohawk Native American beadwork and basketwork that would have been produced on island of Manhattan as inspiration for some of the prints.
The walls of the store are panelled with 200 mirrors, each of which was been individually – and painstakingly – painted by a British artist with iconic images of Paris and New York. The mirrors are supported by a specially made steel structure.
Jenner designed all of the furniture, including a lamp whose glass shade, hand-blown by London glass studio Aaronson Noon, contains real silver and gold. Art nouveau-inspired display cabinets made of American walnut have legs made of solid turned aluminium – a reference, says Jenner, to the golden age of American industry that produced New York’s Chrysler building, while display tables, based on traditional French console tables, have legs upholstered in one of Jenner’s specially designed fabric prints.
Tabletops, made of Greek Thassos marble, are lit from beneath by LEDs so that the light shines through the clear crystals in the marble and makes them sparkle. As a final touch the tabletops are also etched with the Diptyque logo. ‘It took us a long time to get those tables right, but we’ve had so many requests from people wanting to buy them,’ says Jenner.
The luxury continues with a ceiling of pressed tin in a pattern straight from the Thirties and a grand steel and glass chandelier, crafted so that its shape mimics that of the Diptyque logo.
With this kind of luxury, it’s all in the detail, and Jenner points out a cupboard door where one of Diptyque’s original floral patterns has been applied to the surface of the dark American oak using the traditional technique of marquetry. ‘It’s those small details that make people say, “Oh, what is that?”,’ he says.
While synthetic materials can now offer a fair substitute for wood, stone and marble, this project shows that you still get what you pay for, and according to Jenner ‘everyone from the president to the chairman to the CEO’ is thrilled with his take on all-out luxury.
‘We were given so much freedom by the client,’ says Jenner, ‘we were basically allowed to write our own brief. Once they saw what we wanted to do they basically said, “Here’s the space, now go for it”.’
This article was first published in fx Magazine.