Italian architectural practice DC10 Architects has been working with Leica Camera, the leading German maker of high-precision cameras that revolutionised the world of photography, since 2012.
DC10 Architects have designed numerous stores for the prestigious brand, starting with its first Italian store, in Milan, and continuing with stores in central Bologna, inside “Camera” the museum and Italian Photography Centre in Turin, in a former brewery in Istanbul, in an Art Deco heritage building in Porto and in a historic building in Rome where Borromini worked, where the architects used MAXFINE surfaces by FMG Fabbrica Marmi e Graniti of the Iris Ceramica Group. As well as the most recent stores: Florence, where the spaces were recently renewed, and London, where an elegant new store on two levels is being constructed in Mayfair.
The idea behind each of these projects is to improve the in-store user experience in order to attract people, and especially younger people, to photography and cameras. The architects don’t see these projects simply as retail stores, but as important cultural meeting places. The stores fulfil a number of functions, offering users a vast range of experiences such as photography exhibitions in the Gallery and workshops in the Academy. Seeing as the Leica brand is already an icon in its own right, the architects downplayed the brand identity aspect of the stores: floors with grey backgrounds, big white walls on which to display photographs, an emphasis on the importance of light, a social table that can also be used as a cash desk, and a number of common items of furniture for displaying products.
On the basis of these common elements, the architects of DC10 interpreted each place and space differently, making every store unique with its own characteristic features.
In Milan, for example, where they wanted a contemporary style with dynamic, “friendly” spaces, they chose materials such as cement, resin, and untreated iron. The Turin store is based on a minimalist style, with a concrete cube inserted into the existing volume to double the amount of display space.
In Rome, the store is located in a historical building near Piazza di Spagna with the walls on the inner courtyard designed by Borromini. In this historic place the architects of DC10 decided to create a play of different surfaces, contrasting materials and shadows, making use of big 100 x 300 porcelain slabs MAXFINE Roads collection in the colour Grey Calm.
The Leica store in Porto, Portugal is located in a heritage building in the city centre with an Art Deco façade and interiors with marbles, decorations and plasterwork.
In the past, the building was home to well-known famous local coffeeshop, the Excelsior Cafè, and the architects of DC10 preserved the memory of this place and transformed it into an element of design narration. To recreate the atmosphere of the day, they used local materials to cover the building’s surfaces and created a coffee area on the ground floor between the Store and the Gallery, while the upper levels contain the Office and Academy areas.
Studio: DC10 Architects http://studiodc10.com
Project heads: Alessia Garibaldi, Giorgio Piliego, Marco Vigo
Location: Porto, Portugal
Surface area: 300 sqm
Structural design: Duarte Morais Soares
Lighting design: Erco
Technical supervision: Alessia Garibaldi, Marco Vigo, Giorgio Piliego
Total usable floor space: 300 sqm
Marmo Bardiglio floors
Suppliers: Iris Ceramica Group floors, MAXFINE Roads Grey Calm (in the Rome store)
Contract of work: Taramelli srl (for the stores in Milan, Rome and London)
Lights: Erco Germany and Decorative Flos
Stools: Pedrali or Magis
Standard furnishings: Leica / Dula and Ima