From Italy with Love

By Lola Thélin

Photos by Bryant Botero


For a quick jaunt to Italy—the land of high-quality materials, design and craftsmanship—step into 813 Madison Ave. in New York. The redesigned Max Mara flagship boutique has been in the portfolio since 1994, and the moment to reintroduce it to the world as a more luxurious environment has arrived. “Every piece of structural element within the boutique was imported from Italy—the stone, marble, steel; everything is a testament to our commitment to our Italian heritage,” says Maria Giulia Maramotti, director of North American retail and global brand ambassador of Max Mara.

Pioneered by Milan-based Duccio Grassi Architects and three years in the making, the 5,000-sq.-ft. space is a true representation of the values of the brand: simple and contemporary shapes, precious materials that complement in contrast and impeccable finishes presented in a fluid floor layout that provides an intuitive customer experience of Max Mara’s core brands. “Our design approach is a combination of experimentation and research influenced by different artistic influences,” says Duccio Grassi, founder and CEO of Duccio Grassi Architects.

A restored neoclassical exterior welcomes guests into the main entrance featuring a gray ceppo stone flooring and a hand-treated stone and brass wall. The existing staircase connects the three floors and has been restored and renewed with oak treads, iron balusters and a brass handrail. The second level features a smoked oak floor in a Hungarian herringbone pattern, accented with Giallo Siena marble for the walls and dark iron fixtures. “As architects and designers, we focus on materials, surfaces and the interaction of natural and produced light with these surfaces,” adds Grassi, whose firm custom-designed light fixtures and a tubular brass diffused chandelier.

Keeping Max Mara’s brand heritage at the forefront, the architect team allowed the building’s history as a private residence to play a key role in the design concept, resulting in a series of salons and personal rooms with an overall exclusive residential feeling. The original walls, bricks and windows are no longer covered or obscured, and natural light shines through and adds an architectural element when it hits the chandelier.

The result is a blend of historical touches with clean, elegant lines and refined finishes that reflect the brand DNA.


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