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Attention to Detail | Interview with Studio AMV

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Studio AMV is an architecture firm formed in 2017 by Anna Philippou, Marie-Charlotte Prosperi and Victoire Guerlay. The three crossed paths at Atelier Jean Nouvel, an architect studio where they worked for a few years. In 2016, they left to start their studio AMV (which represents their initials). They’ve worked closely with the French luxury brand Balmain, and are responsible for the concept behind many of their stores, including the flagship store in Montenapoleone, Milan.

MiND had the opportunity to speak to Anna, Marie-Charlotte and Victoire in Paris.

Anna Philippou, Marie-Charlotte Prosperi and Victoire Guerlay

“We always start working together on the creative part, like the concept development. We complement each other; we don't really divide the work.”

What led you to come together & create Studio AMV?

The three of us met at an Architect studio, Atelier Jean Nouvel, while working on a project together. Being architects, at the end you want to have your own studio. We had the same vision, same school, and similar ways of working & thinking.

Balmain Office, photo by Romain Ricard

We officially started working together when Oliver Rousteing, the artistic director of Balmain, approached us to do the interiors for his apartment in Paris. It gave us the motivation to keep going. We did the first phase of the apartment; he wanted everything to be ready in 2 weeks! Maybe because in the fashion world, things go really fast. We planned the entire décor, and in order to be quick, we fabricated a lot of furniture, because it was quicker than ordering it from shops, which would have taken us around 6-8 weeks. Before we arrived, the house had three different living rooms in the space. So we thought of making one big, central living room, where people can gather around. Olivier was happy with the result.

When Balmain moved to their new offices, it was in a nice building, but the interior didn’t reflect the brand. So they decided to redo the offices, and Olivier asked us to do it. The office has a 360-degree view of Paris, and again we thought the best thing to do was create something very central. We like to mix modern and vintage materials. There were some cupboards that we couldn’t change because of structural elements, they were all made of wood, so we put mirrors on the outside and on the top, so you reflect Paris on the top.

Balmain Office, photo by Romain Ricard

"Everything was in the detail."

At the same time, Balmain was bought by a new holding company. They were moving into new offices, and developing their retail side, because they only had a few boutiques at the time. They were really developing their accessories collections. We started to build a connection with Balmain, and the next step was that he asked us to work on the concept stores globally. The first concept store was in Milan. In a year and a half, we have done 30 stores all over the world. It was quite a challenging start – to create our studio, find the right team, etc.

Balmain Paris Store, photo by Diego De Pol

What values of the brand do you consider while designing their stores?

In the first meeting, we asked Olivier what his vision was and he said he would like to create a place where it feels like Paris, because to him Balmain represents Paris. He wanted to reflect this worldwide.

They wanted to have individual rooms for each object, one for bags, one for shoes, etc. We decided that the best thing to do was to create a Parisian apartment. This was the starting point of the concept. We used elements of French interiors that everybody recognizes are French – like the Versailles parquet, chandeliers, mirrors, fireplaces, etc. With other retail spaces, things are around the outsides, so we wanted to make it more central so everyone would look at the middle of the space. We try to keep the history of the space as much as possible. Even though we used many traditional aspects, we tried to twist them to make them modern, because Balmain is quite young.

“Every room has a function.”

We try to keep the store concepts uniform worldwide in order to make the Balmain stores recognizable. If we keep changing the store concept, we will lose the idea of bringing Paris all over the world. But at the same time, we didn’t want visitors to understand the entire concept straightaway. We want them to discover it, because every room has different details and materials.

Balmain Milan Store, photo by Diego De Pol

Could you describe your style?

We do not believe in having a style. Every project has a context and different parameters. All projects we’ve done have different character. We like to imagine different stories. We have to first understand the client and then create a project for them. We like to show that we can adapt our work – we don’t have a style, but we have the ability to create a concept pertaining to each project. With architecture, you are taught to be open to everything.

What concepts do you find interesting that you would like to work with?

We would love to design a hotel. We would like to work on these big co-working spaces, like Wework, etc – it’s a new way of working. We are also doing some apartments, which is a different approach.

“Retail is very different from residential. In retail, everything moves quickly.”

Balmain Paris Store, photo by Diego De Pol

What are your inspirations?

Anything and everything can be an inspiration. You’re walking on the street, and you notice something, or you watch a movie and you think, “Oh that detail was nice!” You have to keep your eyes open.

 

Balmain Milan Store, photo by Diego De Pol

What is the secret to your success?

A good team and hard work! Also to never give up – even if we have a complicated idea, we say ‘let’s do it!’

MiND wishes Studio AMV success in all of their future projects.

Interview by: Lisa Zanon & Elena Parise
Contributing Editors: Isabelle James & Akanksha Salunke