Il Fondaco dei Tedeschi, Venice
Fondaco dei Tedeschi, Calle del Fontego 30100, Venezia, Italy
An iconic structure at the foot of the Rialto Bridge, the Fondaco dei Tedeschi is a Venetian landmark dating back to 1228. A recent overhaul by OMA has converted the 72,000 square foot space from one-time mercantile centre into the city’s first luxury department store.
OMA has reinterpreted this landmark as a modern destination, while preserving its centuries-old history.
Conceived as the ‘Harrods of Italy’, the four-storey redesign balances the historic with the unapologetically modern day. Exposed brick, original archways, terrazzo floors and a largely untouched floor plan contrast with glossy red escalators and brass highlights. The individual store spaces incorporate polished marble and swirling light fixtures for a minimalist aesthetic that offers a contemporary take on classic Italian design.
Luxury Italian brands such as Fendi, Gucci, Armani and Valentino are represented, along with those from across the pond, with offerings largely oriented towards accessories and keepsakes. In keeping with this is the array of fine arts and crafts on offer on the ground floor – a refined contrast to the touristy trinkets sold on the streets. Murano glass, Venetian masks and locally crafted olive oils, biscotti and gourmet items abound; a cafe and pastry shop conceived by Michelin-starred chef Massimiliano Alajamo and designed by Philippe Starck offers elegant cuisine amidst design vignettes that speak to the mystery of Venice. A top-floor space hosts events and exhibitions, with an accompanying terrace offering 360 degree views of the city assisted by informational panels outlining key points of interest.
It’s a signal that Venice’s history of mercantile power is still going strong.