On a crisp evening before Christmas, New York City’s Fifth Avenue was packed with shoppers hurrying to pick up last-minute gifts. The stores — appropriately decked out with the subtle signage and tasteful decorations mandated by the city for businesses here — beckoned customers with softly glittering LED bows, stars, and supersize trimmings. But none conveyed the dynamic aura of the year-old Armani/5th Avenue boutique, a four-story glass-enclosed box on the corner of 56th Street wrapped in a virtual blizzard of LEDs that cast reflections of its fleeting light storm onto the glazing of the adjacent Trump Tower.
The carefully planned display evolved from a close collaboration between the client, Giorgio Armani SpA, and a design team headed by architects Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas. Working from Armani’s own brief, the Fuksases employed a holistic strategy for the 43,000-square-foot shop, a new concept that integrates Armani’s numerous fashion brands for men and women. Located in a recent extension of the 1959 Corning Glass Building by Harrison Abramovitz & Abbe, the New York flagship store includes an area for Armani Casa and top-floor real estate for the company’s culinary ventures: a sweets shop, Armani/Dolci; and an urbane restaurant, called Armani/Ristorante, with views of Central Park. The architects called upon Speirs and Major Associates (SaMA), a London-based lighting-design firm they had worked with on previous Armani flagships, to assimilate the lighting with the architecture so it would be imperceptible yet effective.