Lafayette Maison Different From The Rest

Carole Sloan, Staff Staff, September 20, 2004

Lafayette Maison, a home furnishings store organized by living space, is five floors of merchandise and presentation that dramatically breaks away from conventional retailing.

Galeries Lafayette, parent of the new home store, crossed boulevard Haussmann and renovated the landmark building using all of its 150 windows as an integral part of the environment. Light, whether from the windows, the overhead lighting or the spectacular central atrium housing the escalators, plays a critical role in the overall impact.

The central atrium is a major statement in contemporary design with its lighting laminated into glass panels with no sign of wire connections. The atrium was designed by Ingo Maurer, known for his unconventional approach to lighting, space and shape.

The 107,000-square-foot store completes the long-term renovation of the parent which now includes Lafayette Home and Lafayette Gourmet, as well as the main store for apparel. Overall, the Galeries Lafayette complex is 646,000 square feet. Lafayette Maison opened in March.

For bed and bath, which is on the top floor, designer boutiques — all understated and smaller than the American versions — occupy most of the perimeter of the floor. Lafayette Maison, unlike traditional department stores, brings its mattress department onto the bed and bath floor — a logical move in terms of the basic concept of merchandising by living space.

Brands are an important merchandising tool throughout the store. In bed and bath, each has appropriate but understated signage. In housewares and appliances, the brands are listed on columns. In dining, brands are highlighted on table settings as well as in shops and other signage. Furniture brands are set above individual vignettes.

The center of the bed and bath floor is dedicated to the new — many are exclusives to the store and new product is brought in on a regular basis.

Among the designer shops in bed and bath are Armani, Casa, Jalla, Olivier DesForges, D. Porthault, Bassetti, Descamps, Manuel Canovas, Anne de Solene, Dorma and Laura Ashley.

A light-hearted approach to presentation, as well as surprise elements, are designed to stop, and amuse, browsers. In the bath area, a washing machine sits with towels. A teak slatted chaise is used to highlight new colors of a towel collection, while a huge candle-wax bathtub created by architects Stephanie Maupur and Nicolas Hugon also attracts attention.

Interestingly, there is no towel wall. All towels are either integral parts of the designers spaces or set within a bath area of towels, accessories and fragrances.

Signage is a key element in the effectiveness of the bed and bath floor with “nouveau” signs announcing new products or ideas. Presently, Easy Clip, an exclusive system for fastening bedding, is one of the key “nouveau” offerings. A Jeans bed uses full-sized printed jeans, down to the tear in the knee, as a bed ensemble.

Elsa C is highlighted with three center-floor vignettes bringing in the designer's lighting and fashion accessories to accompany the bedding. A bright, contemporary bedding ensemble from Modun in shades of red is another newcomer.

Rugs are shown on the living room floor along with furniture, accessories, window coverings and lighting.

Using the theme, “Tout changer sans changer tout” — basically “All can change without changing everything” — the store creates an environment to encourage impulse purchases.

And telling merchandise or design statements is an important part of the marketing thrust. In the store's current circular, for example, a spread featuring red throughout the home includes bed, bath, furniture, rugs and housewares.

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