VENICE. The Fondaco dei Tedeschi, located at the foot of Venice's Rialto bridge, reopens to the public as a luxury retail centre with space for culture as well.
The restored palazzo which many Venetians know as the Post Office building has come under new management by luxury goods retailer DFS, a subsidiary of the colossus LVMH Group, while still belonging to Benetton. The new luxury retail centre will be formally inaugurated on Friday evening at an invitation-only event and open to the public on Saturday.
VIDEO / Here is the view from the rooftop
"I am happy to have led this project, which restores a building constructed for this very purpose to its origins," said DFS Italia deputy chairman Roberto Meneghesso. "Our company was looking for a market in the heart of old Europe and we jumped on the chance to open in the most beautiful country on the continent and in the most beautiful city in Italy," he added.
PICS / Yesterday and today
Customers can find bags, shoes, accessories and other luxury fashion items of various brand labels spread out over four floors, while on the top floor there is a space dedicated to culture and art. It will also be possible to take a guided tour of the Fondaco dei Tedeschi. DFS has spent "several dozen million" euros in long-term investment on its first sales point in Europe.
The retail centre is expected to have a turnover of 100 million euros and approximately 2 million visitors a year. Over 400 people have been trained especially to work in the structure. Of these, half are in their first job, 80% have been given a permanent contract and over 70% are women.
Step Inside T Fondaco dei Tedeschi
To enter T Fondaco dei Tedeschi, guests can arrive on foot from Campo San Bartolomio or down the Rialto Bridge, or they can alight off a boat at the building’s Grand Canal entrance.
From there they can marvel at the expansive central covered courtyard. Look up and admire the geometric architectural play that has been created by inserting a monumental inverted archway alongside one of the interior walls – its concrete and metal framework echoing the traditional arcade archways that line the terrazzo corridors of the Fondaco.
It is on the ground floor that Italian food, design and culture come together to immerse visitors in the very best that the country has to offer. In the courtyard of T Fondaco dei Tedeschi, under a light-filled atrium, is an elegant Venetian café/restaurant developed by the world-famous interior designer Philippe Starck in partnership with Italy’s most revered culinary family.
Through cuisine, AMO will offer purity and lightness in the heart of the theatrical opulence of the T Fondaco dei Tedeschi. The menu – created by the inseparable Alajmo brothers, Massimiliano, the youngest chef in the world to have received three Michelin stars, and Raffaele, “maître des lieux” of all the Alajmo family restaurants – will feature simple, modern twists on classic Italian cuisine in a space designed specifically to create a sense of conviviality. AMO, cuisine to unmask the pure self.
PICS / The opening
T Fondaco dei Tedeschi’s Cultural Awakening
The addition of a fourth floor to the Fondaco’s existing structure was a critical piece in DFS’ mission to make the store so much more than just another shopping destination. This is where the company will forge a new connection between commerce and culture in a remarkable new event space for Venice. In partnership with local artists and cultural institutions, a series of exhibitions and a wide range of initiatives such as talks, concerts and screenings will be held within this “Event Pavilion” for the general public.
The space was designed so that it would be flooded with natural light thanks to a clear glass ceiling. Within that pristine environment, a continuous flow of cultural events and exhibitions will display a variety of visual arts, fashion and design showcases. This will give both international and local visitors the opportunity to discover and reconnect with the Venetian and Italian way of life and will transform the Fondaco into a new and original venue for arts and culture in Venice.
The inaugural exhibit, which will run from the store’s opening in October through mid-January 2017, presents a visceral exhibition by one of Italy’s most highly regarded artists. Called “Under Water”, the site-specific project
was created by Fabrizio Plessi, who looked at the historical connections between the East and West that were made through relationships forged in Venice.