+ 94 Greenwich Avenue Project
94 Greenwich Avenue by Steven Holl is the first of this new collection of Editions de Parfums boutiques designed by one of the greatest architects of our era.
As always, the location and the character of the building were major factors, as for which I would chose to generate the design. I wanted to work with someone that had a great understanding of the West Village, probably a New Yorker. I was looking for an artist whose style would contrast harmoniously with the character of this particular block. Also, my wish was to work with a top architect, but someone whose practice would be small enough so I would work directly with him, rather than with a battalion of assistants. Last but not least, as always - similar to when working on a perfume, I wanted to commission an artist capable of erecting a building to withstand the test of time, a future “classic”.
Steven Holl soon became an obvious choice. I had known and admired Steven’s work from his use of light in small spaces, such as D.E. Shaw’s offices in NY, his freedom with shapes, as illustrated in Y house in the Catskills or in huge projects, such as his Linked Hybrid in Beijing. The facade for Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York had always made me dream. Furthermore, I was convinced that an artist capable of making such a beautiful small scale object, as well as these huge Chinese cities, had unlimited potential.
For my first conversation wit Steven, the only requirements were: the presence of the portraits of the perfumers, the presence of refrigerated cabinets to store our perfumes, and the existence of smelling devices to allow our clients to truly discover each composition. Finally, I explained that our stores are always comfortable places where visitors feel at ease and manage to get away from the stress of every day life, “places where time stops”.
To these four signature elements I added one idea: creating a store that “like a drawer” would be a whole, exterior and interior would be one, embodying the same style and material. That drawer would be slid into the building, in place of the restaurant that happened to be there currently.
Steven’s only requirement was to work with lighting magician Hervé Descottes, which I gladly agreed to, knowing how crucial attention to detail is - especially in a small space. I knew of Hervé’s reputation since my days with Andrée Putman who was a great admirer of his talent, and I was convinced that having the man who lights the work of the very best architects on the planet, would bring a sort of holiness to Steven Holl’s design.
Steven, who didn’t just want to make a pretty object, but something contextual, asked me about my trade. Fascinated by this still quite novel understanding of our olfactory faculty, Steven who conceptualizes all his work doing watercolors early in the morning, came up with two semi circles shapes as a leitmotif of the future store design.
Texture was the other crucial element of the future endeavor. The minute I entered Steven’s office I was fascinated by a generous panel door made of a new material called aluminum foam: a sort of giant sponge made of aluminum. A big slab of silver lava. Steven was thrilled to use it and decided to oppose it with walnut wood.
A contemporary drawer slid into a brownstone house. An interior making one with the exterior, opposing semi-circles, aluminum foam and walnut and Hervé Descottes’ magic.
These were the bases of this future construction.