Cartier’s unveils ephemeral scenography outside flagship renovation
The French have always had a way with renovation, ever since luxury brands here took Christo’s art concept of wrapping structures and turned into a method of draping whole stores and boutiques in ads and imagery while they were being renovated.
This week, Cartier took the concept to a new level, as it unveiled a substantial new work of urban scenography outside the brand’s historic flagship store in central Paris.
Located at 13 rue de la Paix, the store was opened by Louis Cartier, the grandson of the founder, in 1899 and is Cartier’s largest Paris store. It is now enjoying a massive, two-and-a-half-year overhaul before an expected reopening in September 2022 with a five-floor uber boutique, making it the biggest Cartier boutique in the world.
Cartier has spent over a year developing the new wrapping with a team of 100, including architects, artists, designers, engineers, mountaineers, model makers, sculptors, skilled metalworkers and painters on the scenography. The result is a 25-meter-high walking space, and a style that faithfully captures the original façade.
Designed to allow tourists and Parisians to learn more about Cartier, without stopping pedestrian traffic on the western side of rue de la Paix, the key artery into Place Vendôme, the single most famous square for high-end jewelry on the planet.
Working with signage experts, JC Decaux, the new structure includes a 500-square-meter backdrop; 28 personalised decorative windows finished with gold steel Cartier monograms; three cornice rows preserving the façade; some 400 square meters of marble-style billboards, with a trompe-l’œil resembling the boutique; and over 50 handmade decorative items, including column capitals, bases, emblems and logos.
Christo used to say that wrapping buildings was autobiographical and so is this haute-gamme street decor. Every few months, the windows will recount elements in the history of Cartier, beginning with an on-site exhibition on the marque’s long associate with the panther and a history of its signature red box.
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