BLOG+

AN INTERVIEW WITH AN ARCHITECT FROM A+D CONCERNING THE DESIGN FOR A UNIQUE SHOWROOM WITH LUXURY WATCHES

2008-10-18

Darek Gocławski

Interview with Justyna Andreas, managing director of La Boutique Souisse and Krzysztof Kołodziejski, the architect of the showroom from A+D Studio.
 
- La Boutique Souisse is celebrating it's anniversary…
 
- Justyna Andreas: The company began doing business in Poland fifteen years ago. It was the first store with luxury watches and jewelry between the Tatry Mountains and the Baltic Sea. The number of companies that we represent changes, but they're always Swiss brands. Currently: Ebel, Hermes, Rado, Omega, Piaget, Longines, Herbstrith i Audemars Piguet. From the beginning we've had the same address: Chmielna St. 9 in Warsaw.
 
- The headquarters is the same, but it was redone recently.
 
- K.K. The showroom consisted of two spaces, on two different levels, while the staircase, connecting them was pressed inside the construction wall. Our main interest was to find a  new way to connect these spaces. A jewelry boutique is a challenge for an interior designer. To brake axes - by differentiating the two levels and connecting the two spaces - wasn't our initial architectural idea, we become drawn to it through a series of methodological analysis. We, that is I and my co-designer - Marek Witaszewski. The hardest was to find a relation between both of the spaces that would provide a feeling of intimacy, so important in the process of buying something as personal as jewelry or a watch.
 
- Please show the readers of "Sukces" around this interior.
 
- K.K. The first space is crowned by a spacious showcase, where the most precious pieces are exhibited - the flagships of the showroom. Next we walk between the corners of singular showcases in order to go upstairs, to the second space. The dark brown color  of the furniture surprises with simplicity, forming a sort of passe partout for the watches.
 
- The lighting seems exceptionally important in a showroom like this....
 
- K.K. I would even say, it's most important. In this case we decided on a certain experiment. The watches shouldn't be lit by halogen lights because they increase the temperature when glowing, which is very damaging for the chronometers, while the warmth  dries the leather of the straps, so we had to find a different way to illuminate them. We decided on diodes, installing six thousand of them, some having beacon properties enabling them to illuminate both in cold and warm light. The showroom has over thirty running meters of showcases, that's why we needed so many diodes. Every showcase has four switches to turn on and off individual sections, therefore we can illuminate differently for example white and yellow gold. I think this is the first store in Poland, that is totally dominated by diode lighting. Very helpful to us in realizing this lighting design was Paweł Gajda. It's mostly due to him, that the assortment in La Boutique Souisse, shines so tempting in artificial light. We can arrange the lighting, so it is optimal to any individual watch. What more, with beacon diodes we can illuminate any specific dial. The lighting is divided into sections, so you can arrange it, in such a way to obtain the best atmosphere  for any season of year or time of day. The entire interior is illuminated from the ceiling by halogens. We're using simple laws of physics here, where the angle of light reflection equals it's incidence angle, so no one is blinded by the gleam. The renovation lasted five weeks and consisted of several teams: building, electricity, telephone, furniture etc.
 
- The furniture almost fills the entire wall.
 
- K.K. By installing furniture from floor to ceiling, we were able to solve the problem of storage and lack of a back-room. In the showcases we find all the assortment while such things as catalogues, boxes etc. are kept higher up. We intentionally avoided any extra gadgets or decorations.
- J. A. This is also due to the fact, that shopping in our store is an entirely different experience, then in shopping centers. We try and sustain a very private, even intimate, atmosphere.

???
 
- J.A We have a very personal, individual approach to the customer. The transaction itself is only the end result of being with the customer. Often our clients are public figures, but obliged to keep a professional secret I can't give any names. Most of our customers are regulars, that have been coming back to us for years, therefore after some time they can count on discounts. We try to match watches to individual personalities and looks. If somebody wants to buy a model that doesn't suit him or her, we do everything to convince him otherwise and it's not about  persuading the customer to a more expensive buy.
The same approach applies to jewelry. We all know that brunettes look better in white gold rather then yellow, while blonds have the other way around. But with jewelry ornamentation it all depends on how the specific customer looks, how she dresses, where she works, and in this sense we try to be helpful.
 
- K.K. We have three parking spaces. You have to come in from Marszałkowska St., stopping directly in the back of the store. The showroom has a discrete door, like in old baroque furniture. Pushing the right panel enables you to go outside. The cash register works the same way, there's also a safe hidden in the furniture. We try not to use locks or  door handles, everything works on touch.
 
- Does La Boutique Souisse have more watches or jewelry?
 
- J.A. Around 70% of our assortment is watches, bought mostly by men.
 
- Does that mean, they're more punctual then woman?
 
- J.A. I think that's too far fetched. Women are certainly more interested in jewelry, very upscale, 18 carat gold, both yellow and white, often with diamonds.
 
- You also realize collective orders, right?
 
- J.A. Often companies come to us wanting to buy several, identical watches, high class, to  give to their best employees.
 
- I've noticed that a lot of foreigners come to La Boutique Souisse…
 
-J.A. Foreigners from outside of the EU can get a 70% tax return, calculated into the price of the watch bought in our store. They get a substantial money return, when leaving the EU.
 
- The most expensive product in La Boutique Souisse is…
 
- J.A. MC 12. Watch. Limited edition. They only made 150 of these watches. In Poland the  price is around a million zloty. This is a great investment, because luxury chronometers, like antiques, become more valuable by time.
 
Interviewer: Tomasz Zbigniew Zapert