How does a brand that’s been known for making waves and amassing a super cult following along the way in all 40 years its been around, make its grand debut in Chicago? They open a new concept store designed in partnership with Rem Koolhaas’ OMA/AMO. Stone Island, the luxury Italian brand opened their Chicago flagship store (48 E. Oak Street), located on the tony shopping Oak Street and this is more than just a store. Stone Island partnered with the international architectural firm OMA/AMO to revolutionize its stores’ ID to create points of references, hubs for its communities. Stone Island Creative Director and President Carlo Rivetti who was in town for the Chicago store opening festivities said, “Stone Island and AMO share values of innovation, functionality, and passion. I am very happy to begin this important partnership, a new visual approach for our stores, to speak to our communities.”
Stone Island from the beginning as a brand, has distinguished its self one that pours as much into its research as the final product and the new ID launched with the Chicago flagship store will offer spaces transcending transactional activities designed to experience the wealth of the brand research and experimentation on design and product manipulation, to share experiences and interact with its fan. Stone Island, with its easily recognized compass rose logo has always navigated its brand and wares away from trends, one might even say they, along with the subcultures that scoop up their products, set the trend. Stone Island’s approach in transforming materials from typical into unique is evident in the Chicago flagship shop.
The new concept by OMA/AMO within a new, 180-square meter retail space for Stone Island in Chicago, features altar-like spaces highlighting Stone Island’s devotion to technology and development, shared by its followers. Niches for archival pieces and prototypes – results of years of experimentation in Stone Island’s lab in their Ravarino headquarters – showcase past thinking and future ambitions about product design. “Research and innovation are at the core of Stone Island. The space, materiality, and program of the stores underpin the brand’s ethos, and reinforce a sense of belonging of its community of like-minded people” says AMO Director Samir Bantal.
A walk through the store is an experience in of itself. When I arrived I was immediately drawn to the red floor at the entrance before gazing up to the large digital chandelier above, suspended from the ceiling, broadcasting Stone Island’s culture to its community. The store walls feature stone-like palette, which to the average eye looks like concrete but its actually not, its cork – the central material to the Stone Island stores! The cork is burnt, sandblasted and coated, turning dark and textured, while maintaining its sound-absorbing, humidity-controlling features. Another unique transformed material in the store was the fitting room area, featuring corrugated steel panels, sand-coated, acquire a soft surface.
Early in 2021, it was announced that Remo Ruffini’s Moncler had acquired Stone Island a surprise move to many in the fashion/business industry. The new Stone Island Chicago concept store by OMA/AMO will usher similar concept openings in Seoul, Munich and Stockholm.
Its worth noting that OMA/AMO is part of the design team that will bring the Discovery Partners Institute, part of the $7 billion “The 78” mega-development coming to the South Loop area of Chicago.
*All images credit: Marco Cappelletti, courtesy of Stone Island and OMA / AMO
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pronounced: Boh-la-jee, like the Bellagio but w/o the O. SLC Editorial Director, loves to write about topics at the intersection of career and lifestyle for today's young professional and future leaders.