Case study: Prada, achieving a stand-out look with white-coated aluminium cladding
Prada, IFC Mall, Shanghai
The Prada store in Shanghai made quite an impact with its unusual façade.
Its location, the IFC Mall International Finance Centre Mall, is located in Lujiazui in Pudong, Shanghai and is built by Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd. The shopping mall is six storeys high and is of more than 110,000 square meters. It creates the ideal location for the Prada store surrounded by other luxury brands such as Gucci, Bulgari, Tiffany and Dolce & Gabbana.
The design for the façade contrasts with recent other Prada store fronts, which take a linear design, and also with the surrounding stores in the IFC Mall.
The cool-looking façade, fabricated by Double Stone Steel, is very different to either the linear style in Chongqing or indeed Rem Koolhass’ Fondazione Prada, Milan which is clad in 24 carat gold leaf. The 2014 Chongqing two façades are a tribute to the Venezuelan artist Carlos Cruz-Diez who creates kinetic artworks. The Shanghai façade is linear only in that there are criss-crossing indented straight grooves which divide up the circular recesses. The punched out design of the circular recesses, or indented cones, are redolent of a child’s base board for a peg game. From a distance, as you can see in the photograph below, this gives the impression of a soft, quilted surface.
The material used to create this design is coated aluminium which forms a lightweight cladding. At the base of each indented cone are light fixtures which illuminate the façade at night. The cone serves to offset the light beam which gives a sense of movement as the store is approached.
The store’s designer and architect is Roberto Baciocchi who creates the majority of the Prada and Miu Miu interior and exterior design. This design was also used on the Las Vegas Prada store
The origins of the Prada brand
Prada was established in 1913 in Milan, Italy by Mario Prada and his brother, Martino as “Fratelli Prada” or “Prada Brothers” The stores now sell sold men's and women's clothing, leather goods, travel accessories footwear, eyewear and fragrances and Made to Measure service. In 1913 Mario and Martino were selling steamer trunks and handbags.
The brand was revitalised by Miuccia Prada, Mario’s granddaughter who joined the company in 1970, eventually taking over from her mother Luisa in 1978. Miuccia released ranges, not in leather, but in the black nylon material that her grandfather had deemed only suitable for use as wrappings for the steamer trunks. This was a big departure from the original style of merchandise and took a while to get off the ground. A black tote bag however, launched in 1985 was an overnight success and established the brand as a design leader.
Today Prada has over 250 stores around the world. 33 of these are in China.
Miuccia Prada says, on the difference between the Miu Miu and Prada brands:
"Designing for me is a very complex process. There are many ideas that I want to express in one object, very often contradictory. The creative process in Miu Miu is completely different from that of Prada. Miu Miu is not as complicated and thought out as Prada. Rather than being young, Miu Miu is immediate Prada is very sophisticated and considered; Miu Miu is much more naive/. The solution, when I am working on Miu Miu, has to come immediately, instinctively, spontaneously with whatever is available at the moment. If I think three times, I stop"
Why luxury brands are such a success in China
The typical millionaire Chinese person is on average fifteen years younger than his (the norm is that they are male) Western counterpart, being 39 years old rather than 44. Market analysts predict that by 2020 44% of luxury goods customers globally, will be in Greater China (Greater China being an unofficial term for mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan). The Asian millionaire likes global luxury brands such as BMW and Bentley and also Cartier and Patek Philippe watches, of which they usually own several. By 2020 the luxury goods market is forecast to more than double from today’s levels to $515 billion.