Intelligent Design

Timeless Spaces for every season

In fashion, each season brings a new opportunity for exper-imentation, play, and invention. That is, unless you’re a fashion architect like Laurent Deroo, whose work is decid-edly seasonless. With every store he designs for French label A.P.C., the challenge is to create a timeless home for an evolving brand.

A.P.C.’s founder, Jean Touitou, first approached Deroo 10 years ago, when he was looking for an architect to design a recording studio in-house in his Paris flagship store. Deroo has since been at the helm of the brand’s low-key global invasion—designing its stores in cities like Hong Kong, Tokyo, Los Angles, and Berlin. He credits his long-term partnership with Touitou for the success of his innovative retail projects. “It has given us time to develop a relationship of mutual understanding. Jean and I have found here a common ground and taste for things. On this basis of shared values, we’ve been able to translate A.P.C.’s evolution and my own onto each new project.” The pair’s latest collaboration, a two-story teak-clad store on Dover Street in London, opened in September.

Taking cues from A.P.C.’s chic, unfussy aesthetic—clean lines, minimal adornments, and raw denim—Deroo says that his work aims to be “simple but not poor, respectful but not invisible, luminous but not dazzling.” Accordingly, his stores are airy, modern spaces. Despite his understated approach
to architecture, the effect, Touitou has said, “it is even more interesting and important than the design of the clothes themselves.” So interesting was Deroo’s A.P.C. Harajuku store that Sofia Coppola used it for the strip club scene in Lost in Translation. The location scouting led to personal commissions: he designed Sofia’s vacation home in Belize, and is developing an extension of Francis Ford Coppola’s Blancaneaux Lodge resort.

For Deroo, a successful space—commercial or otherwise—can take on a spiritual quality. “In a time that thrives on an obsessive desire for virtuality and immateriality, I work on the materiality of spaces. I am convinced that spirituality resides in matter more than it does in virtual and disembodied thoughts, bodies, beings, spaces,” he says. Through his work he hopes to carry core values: simplicity and strength, elegance and accessibility. It is a timeless approach, indeed.

– Claire Stapleton