Work in progress
Sheila Kim -- Interior Design, 4/1/2003 12:00:00 AM
An artist's work is never done. Particularly at London boutique Gibo, the house label of the Italian manufacturer that produces garments for Hussein Chalayan and Viktor & Rolf, among others. Gibo's new collection of quirky and feminine women's wear, shoes, jewelry, and accessories is produced under the creative direction of designer Julie Verhoeven, a former fashion illustrator, and sold in the Georgian building recently known for housing the flagship of Alexander McQueen.
The 1,800-square-foot Mayfair space, a collaboration between Verhoeven and Cherie Yeo Architecture + Design, was inspired by the humble, off-the-cuff approach of arte povera, thanks in large part to a felicitous discovery. During the gut renovation, Verhoeven and Cherie Yeo stripped away old fixtures and cabinetry to uncover a 50-foot-long sidewall detailed with cornices, picture moldings, garlands, and pilasters as well as architect's markings from previous renovations. Rather than re- finishing the wall, the duo left the dilapidated stretch exposed to serve as a canvas for additional artwork. For instance, Verhoeven and her husband, artist Fabio Almeida, used a picture molding to frame an ink drawing inspired by the store's interior. Their sketch shows a checkered floor, a facsimile of the building lobby's, joined by a bust that resembles one of the vintage mannequins used for accessories.
Along the arte povera wall, Yeo placed a cash-wrap desk and a run of stainless-steel display tables, all Corian-topped. Because the Corian is the same thickness as the leather-upholstered seats of custom benches below, the pieces read as a continuous unit of alternating heights. A 21-foot-long wall facing the cash-wrap desk is also clad in Corian, this time perforated to accommodate pegs for displaying shoes and other small items.
Opposite the arte povera wall, Yeo devised an artful yet practical fixturing system. Clothes hang on stainless-steel arms attached via hinges to a gray concrete wall. Most of the time, the arms are extended to show clothing. To accommodate a store event or simply facilitate floor cleaning, the arms pivot back into recesses in the concrete—"like tools in a do-it-yourself kit," says the architect. In the shop's front window, another stainless-steel unit frames elements in rotating installations by various guest artists and Verhoeven herself.