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Armani Opens Largest Casa Store in the World

Giorgio Armani unveiled his largest Casa store on Wednesday, during Milan’s international furniture and design exhibition, the Salone del Mobile.

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MILAN — Giorgio Armani unveiled his largest Casa store on Wednesday, during Milan’s international furniture and design exhibition, the Salone del Mobile.

Located in central Via Sant’Andrea, in the golden shopping area centered on Via Montenapoleone, the three-story, 17,280-square-foot store previously housed the designer’s first signature brand boutique that opened in the Eighties. The new space also marks the 10th anniversary of Armani’s home division.

“This store was a necessary step as it allows us to display our newest items,” said Armani, looking tanned and fit.

Lodged in a mid-1900s building with a Saint Maximin stone facade, the store is outnumbered in terms of windows by the existing Casa banner in Via Pisoni, next to his Emporio megastore in Via Manzoni, which will continue to stand given its visibility. Armani’s new bathroom concept, a modular system with vanishing edge pools, minimal taps and foldaway fittings created in collaboration with the Spanish group Roca SA, was presented in the Via Pisoni store this week.

“The body must stand out [in a bathroom], the rest is extra,” noted Armani, who, summing up his design aesthetics, said: “I don’t want to invent anything, I just want to do something that makes sense, that will last and is of good quality.” Furniture must be functional, he added. “I see some spectacular pieces around, which can’t be used,” he said.

While the Casa line bowed 10 years ago, Armani was outspoken about its genesis, conceding he has pinned down his real desires for this division in the past five years. Equally candidly, the designer said he enjoyed the Salone mood and referred to “people in the design industry,” as belonging to “a more poetic world” and “a younger crowd, less arrogant and pretentious,” compared to the fashion scene.

While the economy dampened 2009 revenues at the Casa division, which the previous year reached $54 million, the first months of 2010 showed 12 percent growth compared with the same period last year. In 2010, the company plans to open stores in São Paulo, Brazil; Shenzhen and Guangzhou, China, and Amman, Jordan. There are 29 Casa stores and 38 shop-in-shops in 45 countries around the world. Europe accounts for 45 percent of the brand’s sales, Asia for 26 percent, the Middle East for 23 percent and the U.S. for 6 percent.

Armani’s interior design service, which was launched in 2003, now contributes more than 30 percent of Casa sales, which have recently included residential projects in Istanbul and Milan, and the ongoing Cavour 220 development in Rome. The designer said around 35 percent of his time is dedicated to the Casa line.

The first floor of the new Milan store is dedicated to the interior design service provided by the designer’s architects to private customers and property developers. Main elements in the store include two staircases in brown Eramosa stone; bronze polycarbonate panels edged in polished black metal trim, which separate the different areas; silver tatami floors and polished black lacquered tubular supports with Plexiglas shelving for accessories.

Armani’s first hotel, furnished with his Casa line, will be unveiled in Dubai on April 21. The designer’s hotel in Milan will follow, scheduled to open at the end of 2011.

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