Van Cleef & Arpels Parigi by Jouin Manku

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Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku draw on traditional skills and cutting-edge technology for their take on a typically Parisian interior, inspired by the Place Vendôme.

The designers selected Paris limestone as their material, treating it as Van Cleef & Arpels’ craftsmen might, starting with a stone and working it up into a design, full of poetry, movement, subtlety and finesse.

Van Cleef & Arpels Parigi by Jouin Manku

An avant-garde spirit

Van Cleef & Arpels and Jouin Manku have for many years been united in their shared passion for creativity, ingenuity and a certain avant-gardism.

This relationship, embodied by the complicity between Nicolas Bos (President and CEO, Van Cleef & Arpels) and Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku, is evident in Jouin Manku’s interior designs for the Maison’s emblematic boutiques in Hong Kong, New York and Paris.

The duo is also responsible for the design of five substantial exhibitions dedicated to Van Cleef & Arpels: «The Spirit of Beauty» at the Mori Arts Center, Tokyo; «Set in Style» at the Cooper-Hewitt National Museum, New York; «Timeless Beauty» at MOCA, Shanghai; «L’Art de la Haute Joaillerie» at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris; and from April–August 2016, Van Cleef & Arpels: «The Art and Science of Gems» at Art Science Museum, SingaporeIn 2016, all eyes will once again turn to the Place Vendôme, a place synonymous with Parisian elegance and French High Jewellery.

Adjacent to Van Cleef & Arpels’ historic Place Vendôme address, renovated by Jouin Manku in 2006, 20 Place Vendôme poses a new creative challenge for the designers. Diving further into the fundamentals of a Maison that they know well, their task was to deliver a new, unexpected interpretation that would both charm and deliver the sense of wonder so important to Van Cleef & Arpels.

Expressing the graceful elegance of stone

To this end, Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku proposed working with the raw material of the Place Vendôme, a public square designed at the end of the reign of Louis XIV by Jules Hardouin-Mansart: a perfect octagon all in stone, restrained and geometric.

VAN CLEEF & ARPELS Paris by Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku

The designers would treat Paris limestone as Van Cleef & Arpels’ craftsmen might, starting with a stone and working it up into a design, full of poetry, movement, subtlety and finesse.

An exceptional showcase for the jewellery collections

In setting this stage for the theatrical display of pieces of jewellery and watches, Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku have orchestrated an interior of curves and organic shapes.

The choice of softly coloured materials contrasts with the sparkles of the precious stones: smoked wood, wool or silk rugs, embroidered fabric for walls and ceilings.

VAN CLEEF & ARPELS Paris by Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku

A particular attention has been paid to the display cabinets, which are objects to admire in themselves: a stone surround, a backdrop of sculpted, smoked oak, a dome covered in gold leaf: these details bring a warmth and intimate atmosphere to this new space.

The staircase: sensuality in stone

Upon arrival, the visitor’s gaze is immediately drawn to the key architectural feature of the project, the staircase. Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku’s work is often characterised by a majestic stair. A staircase can give a space a theatrical dimension, and invites further exploration.

The stair sets the tone for this new project. A true tour de force, the stair’s technical workings are completely hidden, in just the same way that Van Cleef & Arpels’ famous Serti Mystérieux™ provides an invisible setting for precious stones. The stair is made of seven large blocks of numerical milled stone, pierced down the middle. A cable suspended through the centre lends the structure rigidity, like a spinal column.

The handrail, meanwhile, gives the stair its presence: made in wrought-iron, another typically Parisian material, its design is inspired by the wings of a butterfly. Despite the solidity of the material, the structure has an incredible lightness.

Delicacy and transparency, an impression of movement… these are the ideas that informed the design of this unique piece. The stair welcomes the visitor from their very first glimpse, its organic, generous shape inviting them to climb upstairs where they discover a sequence of salons reminiscent of a Parisian apartment. At the foot of the stair, a tall oval display case with an elongated, cut-glass, domed cover plays with the light and the sparkle of jewels.

An elegant and fluid atmosphere

Upstairs, to balance the mineral presence of the stone and wrought-iron, Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku have used a palette of colours from grey to beige, to a subtle sea green. Display cases and ceilings are decorated with a scattering of plant motifs carved in plaster or stone.

The same design is embroidered on the fabrics that cover certain walls and ceilings, a reference to the natural forms that inspire Van Cleef & Arpels’ designs. The series of salons on this upper level align with the arched windows that give impressive views over the Place Vendôme and its column. The surrounds of these windows are decorated with a relief-work tangle of rustling leaves, filled with butterflies, birds and stars.

There is no better light than daylight for appreciating the purity of gemstones,making these salons the ideal private environment for presenting exceptional pieces of jewellery. Meanwhile objects and documents from Van Cleef & Arpels’ archives are displayed in purpose-built cases that line a corridor. The elegant atmosphere is further enhanced by the furniture, also designed by Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku.

VAN CLEEF & ARPELS Paris by Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku

Interpreting the precision of a jeweller’s work

The principal idea guiding the design was to celebrate the resolutely Parisian features of the premises and create a soft, warmly welcoming space through which the visitor would move.

The existing series of adjoining salons have been turned into themed spaces where pieces of jewellery can be displayed alongside the fascinating story of Van Cleef & Arpels, so that visitors can explore the Maison’s origins, history and creativity.

At 20 Place Vendôme, the designers decided on an architectural interpretation of the minutiae and precision of a jeweller’s work. To meet this challenge, Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku called in talented specialists to realise their original designs. Decorative plasterers, stone carvers, metalworkers and carpenters pooled their expertise to push the technical limits challenged by the designers and address the project’s specific complexities.

A project that celebrates human skills

Just as Van Cleef & Arpels’ exceptional pieces can only be made by hand, so it is the combined efforts and skills of the teams engaged by the two designers that have created this sensitive interior where stone is brought to life. With the help of new technologies, the specialist craftsmen have succeeded in meeting Jouin Manku’s design challenges– a genuine demonstration of the role designers play in the evolution of skills.

The convergence of the designers’ vision with an exceptional level of craftsmanship has enabled the creation of a space that brings exquisite jewellery into a contemporary realm, with an unmistakeably Parisian identity.

Agence Jouin Manku
Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku, Jong Kim, Elodie Martin, Tania Cohen, Charles Pons, Julien Lizé
Site architect SLA Architecture
Lighting Design Voyons-voir

Stone stair
Atelier Jean-Loup Bouvier
Wrought-ironwork AOF
Plasterwork Sofrastyl
Fit-out/ Furniture Gendre
Furniture SPB
Embroidery Stéphane Corler
Gilding Goard
Parquet Rocacher
Electrics, lighting Henri
Main contractor Lefaure et Rigaud
Photos courtesy Eric Laignel

by AN shopfitting magazine no.134 ©