PARIS — Spruced up and able to welcome a flood of holiday makers, Galeries Lafayette has restored its crown jewel, the hovering, stained glass cupola of its historic Boulevard Haussmann flagship.
Over two years, the Paris division retailer peeled off layers of pipes and wires, and added a brand new, clear glass cowl to cap the century-old monument of Art Nouveau structure, permitting pure gentle to stream in by way of the hand-restored stained glass panels. Workers added a brand new pulley system to affix the annual, stories-high Christmas tree and strips of LED lights that may be programmed in several colours.
The undertaking comes as retailers rethink their areas as locations of leisure within the digital period, defined Eric Costa, president of Galeries Lafayette Group’s actual property arm Citynove.
“You have to offer an experience that goes beyond the practical, you have to de-stress clients who are in a hurry — because if they’re stressed and in a hurry, they may as well buy something through the internet,” mentioned Costa, chatting with a small group of journalists gathered on the shop’s sky bridge, which juts out into an unlimited empty area, 4 flooring up.
Retailers have to present individuals a superb motive to exit, he mentioned, citing spectacular structure as a superb draw.
“The cupola is a good symbol because of its history, patrimony, and the vast empty space — it’s a luxury,” he mentioned, gesturing towards the rows of ornate balconies that ring the within of the constructing.
“The role of empty space is a subject in itself, in architecture — and even more in a commercial space,” he mentioned, recalling the pre-internet period when retailers lowered ceilings and packed merchandise into each nook.
The cupola has contributed to the shop’s place as an emblem of French artwork de vivre, recognized the world over, famous Costa, earlier than taking his guests by way of an internet of ironwork to achieve its summit — providing a peek on the previous Christmas tree hook and sweeping views of Paris.
Built in 1912, the construction was designed by Ferdinand Chanut, that includes glasswork by Jacques Grüber and curved ironwork by Louis Majorelle. In current years, the shop has counted round 37 million guests yearly.
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