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Two New Design Showrooms Worth a Visit (Not Just a Like on Instagram)

If you’re in Paris or New York, spend an afternoon in these gorgeous historic spaces and find design inspiration IRL.

Bottega Veneta's 'The Apartment' Photo: Adrian Gaut

Shopping for design is a serious pursuit. Digital browsing can only take you so far. Ordering a sofa without actually sitting on it is the wild act of a risk-taker. Some of us want to sample the real thing. The design world is masterful at creating the perfect stay-awhile environment, and that exact magic has been unleashed in on two new concepts this month. Both are dedicated to providing transporting experiences that only fantastic turn-of-the-century architecture can provide. If the correlation between a beautiful interior and the desire to buy everything in sight has not yet been made, we’re asserting it here. Science agrees.

For Sarah Lavoine, the space had to be right. In the Passay area of Paris, in the 16th arrondissement, she discovered a beautiful alleyway that lead to an old locksmith workshop. The building itself was already was already a steel-and-glass paragon to urban-industrial fantasies. A converted 19th century space with original beams, a metal staircase, and courtyard—this would become the newest site of Maison Sarah Lavoine. Within this authentic space, Lavoine, the Paris-based interior designer with cult-like status, fashioned her own enticing concept shop vistas from living room to dinner table, bedroom to closet. Her furniture creations and women’s fashion mix with her tabletop, décor, lighting, and all the considered lifestyle essentials for the sophisticated shopper.

Still, Lavoine is acutely aware of how the online world has not only altered the simple pleasures of shopping but of what a shop owner purveys. “The internet has changed so much how this game is played,” she says. “People are browsing to find inspiration, there are just so many sources.  So, whenever I’m putting together a new retail concept I always want to find what’s going to make the place more than just a store. I want to offer an experience that is going to be uplifting and as inspiring as what you can find online. That’s the reason why we do not limit our offer to furniture or home decor, because sometimes you would get it to buy a vase and you would leave with a T-shirt and linens. Exactly how you would do online thanks to very smart suggestions.”

And in New York, Bottega Veneta managed to surprise jaded New Yorkers with a new manifestation of its enviable style. The Upper East Side’s stylish new resident extends across 15,000 square feet and five floors. The company’s latest maison has all the trimmings, including a bronze ball-chain curtain and dramatic stair hall with a clear glass balustrade and handrail to set the tone. The chic Italian fashion brand skipped the sleek thrills of modern architecture and combined three 19th-century town houses into one lush space. The fifth floor is devoted to a new concept, The Apartment, where the label’s covetable furniture, lighting, tabletops, and accessories are presented exactly how we like them—in a home setting. Creative director Tomas Maier’s well-appointed interior vision not only features the latest incarnations of the house’s signature intrecciato weave, but also his curated fine art selections. Not to mention a true rarity in Manhattan: daylight.

In response to the digital life we cannot escape, appointing a beautiful interior and showcase for the Bottega Veneta world seems fitting. “The process has taken many years,” Maier has said of the maison project. “But I think it was worth spending that time to achieve something on this scale. This store is my gift to our East coast clientele.”

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