CARTIER REMODELS, MOVES TEMPORARILY

Byline: Wendy Hessen

NEW YORK — Beginning Tuesday and continuing to next May, anyone seeking to satisfy his or her Cartier cravings will need to walk a bit further uptown from the company’s familiar Fifth Avenue townhouse.
The luxury-goods and fine-jewelry retailer is about to undertake a major renovation of its landmark flagship. In the meantime, Cartier will purvey its wares from cozy yet contemporary digs at 711 Fifth Avenue in the former Coca-Cola store, sandwiched between the Disney store and the Hugo Boss construction site.
The six-story Italianate palazzo, originally constructed as a residence for Morton Plant in 1905, was acquired by Cartier for its headquarters here in 1917.
“It is important to us to reflect what the building was, both as a private home and later when it was successfully converted to a retail establishment,” said Simon Critchell, chairman of Cartier Inc.
Most of the renovation will concern the ground-floor and second-floor interiors. A renovation of the upper floors, which house executive and staff offices, has just been completed.
In keeping with the current trend for less intimidating, more inviting luxury-store designs, Cartier’s plans call for opening up the space with bigger, head-to-toe windows for more accessible displays and allowing passersby an unobstructed view inside.
The main Fifth Avenue entrance, currently at the far left corner of the building, will be moved two windows to the right, allowing shoppers to see into the entire store, from front to back. The current rounded red awnings will be replaced with tailored, retractable canvas awnings, similar to those used in the Twenties.
A major change is the reinstallation of the residence’s original main entrance, under an ornately carved limestone balcony on the 52nd Street side. Upon entering, visitors will climb either side of a short staircase and find themselves in an oval room with a carved oblong opening in the ceiling, providing a view into the second floor.
From the oval room, customers can descend through a doorway into the double-height main jewelry and watch area facing Fifth Avenue or walk through two other doorways leading into either the high-jewelry salon or a room dedicated to antique Cartier pieces. Beyond those two rooms are areas for wedding jewelry and gifts, as well as stationary and writing instruments. The second floor will house leather goods, scarves and customer service.
The oak panels that cover the main-floor walls are being restored and lightened to coordinate with the limestone flooring and a color palette of tonal grays and whites, with touches of Cartier’s signature burgundy.

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