“Architectural.” “Graphic.” “Clean lines.” Tomas Maier used those words in reference to his cruise collection for Bottega Veneta, but he might as easily have been speaking of another just-completed project, his new design studio that occupies 4,000 square feet in the Fuller Building on 57th Street. All stark white and sanded glass, the digs are a minimalist’s dream; there’s not even an inspiration board in sight. “The [cruise] collection is finished,” Maier says. “The boards will come for spring.”
Yet the decor’s austerity feels less harsh than calm — and serviceable, its practicality rooted in a multitude of movable parts. “I wanted a space that could be completely modified,” Maier explains. “All these walls, they all slide,” either up and down or side-to-side. One area sections off into a satellite office for design staff visiting from Milan; elsewhere, sliding walls reveal floor-to-ceiling mirrors making for an unobstructed fitting room.
Such versatility is essential to Maier, who designs Bottega Veneta from three outposts — Milan, New York, and, less frequently, his home base in Florida — where he works out of an office within the headquarters of his eponymous firm. While most of Maier’s early design work for Bottega happens in Milan, fittings occur there and in New York, a reality that has made him a too-frequent trans-Atlantic commuter. He expects this new space, complete with state-of-the-art video conferencing equipment (hidden when not in use), to substantially reduce his number of trips.
Bottega’s sales office and showroom remain above the house’s Fifth Avenue store, also the previous location of the studio. “There is nothing commercial going on here. This is only creative,” he says, adding that part of the commercial office will relocate to the Gucci tower. As for whether he considered transferring his studio there, he offers an emphatic “no.” “That belongs to somebody else,” he says. “I wanted this space. It’s very clean, so when you bring the garment in, the garment is the king.”
For cruise, architectural shapes reign, “a little Bauhaus, squared and then collapsing,” the designer notes. Throughout, he incorporates vibrant tones played against black and white. There are obvious surf references, but the designer says it¹s not about hanging 10. Case in point: bold-bicolor pieces which, though reminiscent of scuba gear, are inspired, Maier explains, by “the Romanian girls — you know, the gymnasts.”