September 1, 2010

Double Vision: Philip Johnson Alan Ritchie Architects Expands DDC Domus Design Collection

It was for an unlikely lo­cation near the Empire State Building that DDC Domus Design Collection inked a lease a decade ago. Even more remarkable, perhaps, was the news that Philip Johnson Alan Ritchie Architects would remodel the corner storefront. When it opened, foreign manufacturers able to show luxury contemporary furnishings in the U.S. for the first time were thrilled. “They considered New York a stepping stone for the rest of the country,” partner Siamak Hakakian explains.

The DDC expansion now continues in the same part of Midtown, with another 30,000 square feet. That’s so gargantuan, in fact, that he and his brother, partner Babak Haka­kian, committed to walling off about a third of the space to form a separate flagship for Minotti, a company that DDC has repped for six years, alongside the likes of Edra, Matteograssi, Missoni, and Vitra.


According to a principle orig­inally outlined by the mighty Philip Johnson, it’s important to avoid conventional display windows, which scream, “Don’t touch!” Studio Gaia principal Ilan Waisbrod, who participated in the early stages of the renovation at DDC Domus Design Collection, essentially seconds that opinion. Hence the window displays set on low platforms-easy for shoppers to walk up to and into.

Partitions at three-quarter height set the window displays apart from the rest of the ground level. To accomplish a similar task in the center of the sales floor, Waisbrod added nonstructural columns to define a square “gallery,” then tiled the columns and the floor between them in a white glass composite. “Tourists walk in thinking this is a museum,” DDC partner Babak Hakakian says. To the rear of the gallery, a staircase in transparent structural glass announces the presence of a mezzanine and a basement.

All three levels carry up-to-the-minute products from the just-launched DDC Collection, such as a cozy sugar-white rug in Argentine rabbit fur. But the past receives its due as well: DDC art director Jens Ahlemeyer scattered the sales floor with prize Persian rugs from the Hakakian family’s homeland. 

While connected to DDC Domus Design Collection, the Minotti showroom maintains a distinct identity and a separate street entrance. “We’ve been calling them yin and yang,” DDC partner Babak Hakakian says of the contrasting moods on either side of the wall. While DDC itself is white, Dordoni Architetti’s Rodolfo Dordoni, who also designs Minotti furnishings, has painted Minotti mostly black. 

He used beams and columns of blackened steel to enlarge the mezzanine and inserted a series of higher and lower platforms to create multiple paths through the display “rooms,” creating the “per­ception of movement,” he explains. Paneling is ebonized oak, sandblasted to raise the grain. The ceiling’s expanded-aluminum grillework-comparable to what Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa/SANAA used on the outside of downtown’s New Museum of Contemporary Art-is painted a high-gloss black to lend a kinetic feeling. Elsewhere, the ceiling is white stretched vinyl subtly echoing yang values: heaven and light.

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