Balenciaga is a luxury fashion house founded in 1919 by the Spanish designer Cristóbal Balenciaga in San Sebastián, Spain and currently based in Paris. Now headed by designer Demna Gvasalia, the brand has become an international sensation, seen by many as spearheading a next zeitgeist and frequently reinventing the “rules” of fashion.
Via custom fabrication studio, Bednark, we were given the opportunity to fabricate custom architectural elements for the international brand’s new San Francisco & Costa Mesa stores in California. Based on the brief we received for the new stores, it was clear that the client was looking for minimal, raw, industrial-looking cast concrete that would compliment the brand’s colorful clothing & accessories well.
For this project, we were asked to fabricate concrete wall panels & floating shelves for each of the stores. The vision was for all the walls to be clad with the pre-cast panels and for the brand’s products to sit on the shelves underneath bright lights.
In order for the shelves to float off of the walls, we had to make sure they were as lightweight as possible. In order to accomplish this, the wall panels couldn't be more than 1" thick and had to be “Z-clipped” to the walls. Sounds easy enough right? Well not so fast - some of these shelves were over 12' feet long which made this a much tougher task. Additionally, the shelves also had to have channels cast into them in order for the inset lighting to be added as well as internal wire chases to provide a power source.
For the wall panels, size and weight were also of concern. Here we used a lightweight glass bead filler for the concrete to lighten the load and also integrated carbon fiber mesh so that it was a little bit flexible. Believe it or not, these were some of the largest wall mounted panels we had cast to date. In short, we had to concoct a concrete mix that was light, strong and still looked good.
When all was said and done and the stores were fully merchandised and set up, we were thrilled with the results of the project. Taking into account how quick the turnaround time was for these projects, there was very little room for error as it would have set us back on production time, potentially putting the project in jeopardy. Looking towards the future, we actually have a few more Balenciaga stores lined up and we can’t wait to see how they turn out!
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