|(composite photograph) click images for larger view|
In selecting the new Burberry store on Michigan Avenue as her calling-card critique, interim Tribune architecture critic Cheryl Kent has chosen to rechannel Blair Kamin's worst schoolmarm tendencies, slamming it as "a screaming chrome ornament", "a boor", and a "noisy drunk", concluding, "That's sort of a bad joke like the Burberry store is a really not-funny, bad joke." (Seriously - does that last sentence even qualify as English?)
|Chicago Marriott, left; 600 North Michigan, right|
Once upon a time, as can be seen in remnants such as the Jacques Building and Women's Athletic Club, north Michigan Avenue was the chic street of the city, with upper-end shops, galleries and restaurants housed in classically-styled edifices. That day is long gone. At some point in the 1970's, the Mag Mile began to usurp State Street as Chicago's great commercial thoroughfare, and it has gradually become a series of malls separated by stretches of architectural glop. And lest we over-sentimentalize the past, remember that the Mag Mile was once home to a Woolworth's Five and Dime, and that the current site of Tiffany's was previously a McDonalds.
Compared to Robert Stern's goofy tin facade for Banana Republic, now replaced with a "tasteful" glass front, the new Burberry is the height of reticence. If you want to be offended by something, be offended by the growing inequality of our current Gilded Age Redux, not by the highly engaging design of the new Burberry's, which opened late in November. It replaces a far more modest two-story precessor . . .
|Prada Store, Tokyo, Herzog and DeMeuron, architects - photograph Wiiii, Wikipedia|
|Prada store, Chicago|
|Crate and Barrel store, Michigan Avenue, Chicago|
The hand of Burberry Chief Creative Officer Christopher Bailey, a/k/a the "brand czar", can be seen in the design of every aspect of the Burberry experience, including the new Michigan Avenue store, carried out by Callison Barteluce architects of New York. In a 2009 interview with Lauren Collins in The New Yorker, Bailey talked about his own experience as a middle-class sixteen-year-old going to buy the gift of a watch for his mother at a designer store . . .
The service was so intimidating and so unpleasant . . . And I really wanted to call my dad aferward and say, 'Dad, it was amazing, and there was this and there was that!' But instead I was like, 'Oh, Dad, it was awful. It was horrible.'Bailey is clearly looking to create a more inviting scenario for Burberry in general, and Chicago in particular. According to Crain's Chicago Business's Brigid Sweeney, he designed Burberry Michigan Avenue as total retail theater, with floor-to-ceiling "digital walls" and a hyper-connected environment which may have more Apple product than Apple's actual store up the street - iPhone docks, untethered iPads for salespeople and embedded iPads for customers. Plus 500 loudspeakers and 100 display panels.
told Crain's, "How we use technology was going to be our greatest differentiator," and adds that in the luxury segment, 70 percent of the customers shop on-line but shop in the physical stores.
The photograph that accompanied the Tribune review depicts the new Burberry facade in the highest possible contrast, the chrome elements sticking out like plastic on a cheap radio. Using a photograph that documents your opinion is always fair game, but the way the inset strip of windows doesn't read at all is an over-the-top misrepresentation.
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