Upon recruiting French studio Architecture & Associés to design their first ever store in Paris, avant-garde Dutch fashion house Viktor & Rolf requested a rather daunting—and possibly slightly insulting—design vision. "We said we would like a store that's invisible or a store that's hardly there because often we find store designs very intrusive and just too much," Viktor & Rolf co-founder Viktor Horsting told Dezeen. Indeed, instead of requesting eye-catching architectural flourishes—sorry, no Zaha Hadid swoops or funky space pods here—the aim here was for the clothes to take center stage against an entirely gray, entirely felt background.
So just how "invisible" is the final product? Well, while the design team did stick to neoclassical elements—like a grand, sunken central shopping area and a colonnade of arches running above the stairs—it turns out that nearly 7,000 square feet of gray felt is actually pretty wacky, and more reminiscent of a large scale art installation than an unobtrusive shopping experience. Still, it appears the brand's bigwigs are pleases with the results, praising the muffled quality the felt lends the space and the "surreal experience" of shopping inside an entirely fabric-covered landscape. "You're really by yourself even though it's a big space, and even though the architecture is rigorous and graphic, it's not imposing or too grand," says Horsting. "It's really an intimate place. It's quite beautiful." Dezeen has a few more shots of the hushed, monochromatic interiors, right this way.