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Brief Published: 27 Sep 2011

Excelsior: Milan’s Floating Retail Paradise


In a direct challenge to Milan’s formidable boutique culture last week, Excelsior – the city’s first luxury department store – opened with a bang. Boasting lavish interiors, it features an equally impressive façade, designed by French starchitect Jean Nouvel.

Owned by retail group Gruppo Coin, which was until now a mid-market specialist, the seven-storey retail destination is located in a former cinema in the Italian fashion capital’s grand Galleria del Corso shopping arcade.

The façade carries Nouvel’s usual brand of spectacle, with sharp-edged aluminium slats angled to allow a peep show of images on LED screens behind. Inside, walls are embellished with reflective coating, designed to bounce light from the LED screens, while the floors are separated from the perimeter walls, creating the illusion that they’re floating in mid-air.

And Nouvel isn’t the only star – filmmaker and art director Marco Braga has also been drafted in to curate the store’s art selection. 

Retail theatre in the extreme, all eyes are watching to see what kind of impact the store will have of the city’s famous independents.


Jean Nouvel

Gruppo Coin