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NEW YORK — Georg Jensen’s newly expanded and redesigned flagship at 687 Madison Avenue has all the comforts of home.
This story first appeared in the December 15, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The 2,500-square-foot unit looks like a clean-lined modernist house that could have been designed by Alvar Aalto or Arne Jacobsen, celebrated Danish architects that influenced Mark Pinney, the London-based designer of the Georg Jensen store.
Ulrik Garde Due, Georg Jensen’s president and chief executive officer, said the flagship will do about $2,500 a square foot in sales. “Our comps are 7 percent above last year’s [year-to-date] comps in the U.S.,” Garde Due said. “We’ve started working with Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s, saks.com, Gump’s and Michael C. Fina.” The company plans to open a shop at La Rinascente in Italy.
“The Madison Avenue store is a very Danish environment,” Garde Due said. “It’s like a Danish home — sleek and contemporary, yet cozy and warm.”
Classic Danish furniture by Fritz Hansen and Thomas Kjærholm is featured, and ceilings, carpets and floors all were made in Denmark. Expansive glass windows bring the outside in and vice versa, and ornamentation was kept to a minimum — the better to show off Georg Jensen’s designs.
“We are a luxury Scandinavian lifestyle brand,” said Garde Due. “We’ve updated our positioning to reflect timelessness, quality and functionality.”
Lush still lifes in store windows and on the dining room table are at once sensuous and elemental, as is a display of hydrangeas, roses, succulents, pomegranates and silver hollowware, all on a bed of moss.
The living room, with its fireplace and chimney, has shelves — called an icon wall — which show off antique and modern Georg Jensen pieces, such as a sterling silver fish tray for $80,000.
“We felt our stores were too museumlike,” Garde Due said. “There was too much merchandise behind glass. That’s so un-Danish.”
Stools are drawn up to the counter of the kitchen, which doubles as the cash wrap. The counter is where the latest products are displayed to prompt discussion and interaction between the staff and customers over a glass of Champagne or a cup of coffee. An area between the veranda and kitchen is a courtyard garden.
“For the last five to 10 years, we’ve focused on jewelry and watches,” said Garde Due. “Jewelry is the cornerstone of our business and accounts for 70 percent of sales. The new store marries all the worlds of Georg Jensen.”
Jewelry is still strongly represented with a gallery with display cases made of blond wood. Wood is a predominant indoor material in Scandinavian homes and was used for both the flooring and the slatted wall and ceiling panels of the store.
Garde Due said the new prototype will be rolled out to stores in Asia, Europe and elsewhere in the U.S.