He may not be a household name, but renowned architect Peter Marino has played a key role in shaping the image of some of the world's top luxury brands, designing stores for the most elite names in the business. He’s the man behind any Louis Vuitton, Dior, or Chanel boutique that you’ve ever visited.
So it makes sense that Marino was asked to be the guest speaker during the dinner at last week's Financial Times Business of Luxury Summit held at the Plaza Hotel. There, clad in his signature all-leather duds, he sat down in discussion with the paper’s fashion editor Vanessa Freidman to speak about the notable artwork he’s commissioned for his bespoke boutiques. “I think luxury brands want people to equate anything exquisite in life with their product,” Marino said of the reasoning behind his design hallmark.
Turns out that Marino never commissions less than three pieces of art per store, and each demands considerable collaboration. He requires (sometimes unwilling) artists to create new work that speaks to both their own creative signatures as well as those of a brand. The results vary from giant installations to paintings to sculpture to digitalized storefronts. Marino recently enlisted Israeli talent Michal Rovner to use the latter format when creating work for Chanel’s Hong Kong flagship. The piece took a full year to conceptualize and was seen by an estimated seven million pedestrians.
With commission tabs typically weighing in at between $300,000 and $3 million per store, one could easily consider Marino one of the art world’s most significant patrons, especially in today’s less-than-friendly art market. Not to mention that each boutique receives a makeover (including new artwork) every 3-5 years. In fact, many of the pieces that have been switched out of Vuitton’s various boutiques will soon become a part of the brand’s upcoming Louis Vuitton Foundation for Creation art museum, opening in 2014.
But don’t call Marino an art dictator. “I prefer art Tsar,” he told Friedman.