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Las Vegas
Giorgio Borruso Design

Giorgio Borruso Design concocts a surrealistic ambience of amoeboid shapes for an Italian shoe and apparel shop

© Benny Chan

For more photos click on 'photos & drawings' above.

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By Suzanne Stephens

Playing Las Vegas is not easy––even if we’re talking about store design. How does a boutique compete with the chaotic kitsch of the casinos? Or the baroque brassiness of the hotels? Giorgio Borruso, a young Italian architect who opened a design studio in Los Angeles six years ago, did not take the Minimal route. Fornarina may be mostly white, but it is a far cry from the Miesian clean-machine look of a Jil Sander store. No. Salvador Dalí’s surreally melting forms, the monster plant from Little Shop of Horrors, and maybe Elsie de Wolfe’s glamorous white interiors come to mind when you enter Fornarina. And you can still see the merchandise.

To fight the barnlike quality of the 2,350-square-foot rectangular space with 29-foot-high ceilings, Borruso designed a series of viscerally organic shapes dominated by four large, hooded, tentaclelike objects hanging from the ceiling. Each one harbors a steel spine carrying LED lighting fixtures and aluminum tubular frames, which in turn support custom acrylic, spherical protuberances encased in a special nylon elastic fabric that Borruso developed with Eventscape of Toronto. Directional incandescent spots mounted in the soffits of these sculptural elements provide illumination––and in turn seem to ogle the customers.

Shoppers entering the store first confront suspended transparent resin panels 16 feet high, partially enclosing the central space. Blobby fiberglass rings mounted on the
vertical panels turn out to be two-sided vitrine elements, in which small-scale items, such as shoes, are displayed. A pearlescent paint coats the majority of the rings, while the rest gleam with a chrome finish. As customers move past these unusual partitions, they arrive at the perimeter of the space, where apparel is displayed. Here Borruso designed the white custom-cast fiberglass walls to look like soft, fleshy protrusions lighted from inside. Although Borruso had begun working with a computer-modeling program, he and the Los Angeles fabricator, Bam Bam Design, relied on hand-sculpting the pieces out of foam, then making molds before casting them.

Want the full story? Read the entire article in our February 2005 issue.
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Formal name of Project:

Las Vegas

Gross square footage:
2,350 sq. ft.

Fornari USA

Giorgio Borruso Design
333 Washington Blvd #352
Marina Del Rey, Ca. 90292
Tel: 310-821-9224
Fax: 310-821-9350


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