‘The most important thing is light,’ says New York-based architect Richard Meier when discussing his design for Peek & Cloppenburg’s flagship Düsseldorf store. Rebuilt to celebrate the company’s 100th anniversary, this stunning building stands out in the city’s dense landscape in much the same way that Peek & Cloppenburg itself stands out from other department stores in Germany.
Ever since 1902, when Johann Theodor Peek and Heinrich Anton Cloppenburg opened their first clothing stores in Düsseldorf, Peek & Cloppenburg has adhered to a staunch set of standards to ensure that it rises above the rest. The company’s commitment to luxury, in its products and the design of its stores, is a driving factor behind its impressive longevity. A laser-sharp eye for innovation has also helped the brand to attract customers decade after decade: Peek & Cloppenburg pioneered pret-à-porter fashion in Germany in the early 20th century and introduced rolling videos of catwalk shows in-store.
From Armani to Zegna
Peerless luxury is at the heart of Peek & Cloppenburg. Since the company’s beginnings its garments have been made from the finest fabrics, using the most efficient production processes available in order to keep costs reasonable. The importance placed on quality is reflected in its choice of designer concessions; the range is diverse, featuring major names from Armani to Zegna.
Stores cater for all generations and recent years have seen Peek & Cloppenburg attract younger shoppers. Visitors to one of its branches are likely to find fashion aimed at younger consumers on the lower floors and more sophisticated collections on the upper levels. And it seems that Peek & Cloppenburg has got its mix just right: the company now has 64 stores across Germany and 41 abroad, employing 13,500 people.
See and be seen
Despite this success the brand is ever evolving, and seeks out the best locations and store designs to give it a retail edge. The first Peek & Cloppenburg stores were established in the most prestigious locations as they were intended to be places ‘to see and be seen in’. The Düsseldorf flagship store is especially important to the company and it is fitting that the shop has been redesigned to mark Peek & Cloppenburg’s centenary.
The store occupies an unusual position in the city, lying between the historic and elegant quarter of the city with its Belle Époque-style houses, and the eastern district. The new design of the Düsseldorf flagship store is intended to bridge the gap between these two diverse areas of the city while still incorporating Peek & Cloppenburg’s trademark sophistication; its clean lines, fine materials and airy open-plan layout express a very modern form of understated luxury.
The link between building and brand
Richard Meier’s signature style meshed perfectly with Peek & Cloppenburg’s design ethos. His favourite materials, coated aluminium wall cladding and Roman travertine, alongside an appreciation for natural light, work well with the brand’s belief that atmosphere and architecture can enhance the shopping experience. His construction, an impressive monolith of glass and steel, looks ultra-modern but it’s interesting to note that this style of metropolitan store was an idea generated by Peek & Cloppenburg, influenced by the company’s large pre-war properties.
Richard Meier’s complete understanding of the link between building and brand made him the ideal person to tackle this project: ‘We have tried to create a building that gives a very strong image for the company, and wanted to do this through light, space and transparency.’ By transforming its stores, the brand hopes to recapture the spirit of the city’s grand shopping palaces and to reflect the prestige of the fashion that is available in-store. Of course, practical considerations influenced the striking design as a lighter interior means that customers can see the products more clearly, makes them feel more comfortable and ultimately encourages them to spend longer browsing and buying in the store.
Whether flicking through glorious Burberry Prorsum petal-soft gowns or indulging in Riccardo Tisci’s gothic romance at Givenchy, the fashion enthusiast can disappear into a sartorial wonderland when they venture through Peek & Cloppenburg’s imposing doors.